I apologize for not having posted anything in over a week, but a cold has been kicking my butt. Just a common cold, not the infamous H1N1 (swine) flu that’s going around, but still, its having its way with me.
I read the novel Psycho by Robert Bloch. I’ve seen the movie probably dozens of times. It is a Hitchcock classic and many might point to it as the first slasher flick, although if you really take a look there is no gratuitous violence, which is the life’s blood of a true slasher flick.
Hitchcock was rather tasteful. First, the movie was in black and white, so there is no blood. The famous drain scene is just a black liquid mixing with the shower water. And the knife is never shown actually slashing the person, there is a lot of cut scenes showing with Janet Leigh screaming and defending herself, then Anthony Perkins as Mother slashing at something. I believe there’s only one quick scene where the knife and Janet are in the same sequence.
But slashing is not what that movie is about. Even with that amount of violence, the main ingredient in Hitchcock’s horror was suspense, it was psychological horror of the “what’s going to happen next?” and “is his Mother crazy?”
And, now that I think about it, the most shocking thing in that movie was that Janet Leigh, a big time star at the time, was killed so soon in the movie. NOBODY was expecting that and it stunned everyone.
So I finally got around to reading the book. Let me tell you. Its been a long time since I read a book that quickly. I’d say within 8 hours. I couldn’t put it down. Yes, I know the story. Yes, I know the ending. And yet, Robert Block was able to weave a story, using several Point of View characters, such as Marion Crane (Janet Leigh’s character), Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), Sam Loomis (John Gavin, Marion’s boy friend), Milton Arbogast (Martin Balsam as the Insurance Investigator), and Lila Crane (Vera Miles as Marion’s sister).
Despite knowing what was going to happen, Bloch still manages to create suspense, you still have empathy for his characters, and you still keep turning the pages to see what will happen.
If you haven’t yet read this classic in the horror genre, do so. You’ll be glad you did even as you’re locking the shower door.