Download The Rough Guide to Horror Movies PDF

TitleThe Rough Guide to Horror Movies
PublisherRough Guides
ISBN 139781843535218
CategoryArts - Film
File Size10.4 MB
Total Pages288
Document Text Contents
Page 2




Page 144


The shower scene was

terrifying but showed less

than is often thought

of audience manipulation and sus-
pense, and Psycho is the most fright-
ening film ever produced because
he made a murderer the nice boy
next door, meticulously laced his
sleekly modern chiller with subtle
wit and repeatedly had the violence
happen when least expected.

Psycho is a manual for any would-
be horror director: the shower scene,
which seemed to show everything
— blood, stabbing, naked flesh — but
actually showed very little; the cas-
cading death on the stairs, seen from
above until Bernard Herrmann 's
seminal shrieking strings shatter the
silence and our nerves; Lila finding
the corpse of Norman's mother in
the cellar basement and hitting a
lightbulb as she recoils that accents
every frightful eye-socket detail and
mummified wrinkle.

Based on Robert Bloch's grisly
pulp novel, itself based on the life of
Wisconsin necrophile Ed Gein, the
story, and its surprise ending, is now
part of the fabric of popular culture.
Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) and

her lover Sam Loomis (John Gavin) can't marry because of his
heavy debts. So Marion steals $40,000 from her real estate employ-
er and leaves Phoenix, Arizona, to start a new life with him in
California. A heavy storm and fatigue cause her to spend the night
off the beaten track at the Bates Motel, where shy owner Norman
(Anthony Perkins) seems to live with his elderly, cranky mother.

After Marion is murdered in the shower, her sister Lila (Vera
Miles) joins Sam and insurance detective Milton Arbogast (Martin
Balsam) to investigate her sudden disappearance. It's only when
Sam and Lila learn from the local sheriff (John Mclntire) that Mrs
Bates has been dead for years and search the Bates home to solve the
mystery that they discover the terrifying truth. Norman is a schizo-


Page 145



phrenic homicidal lunatic who has kept his mother's rotting corpse
in the house and takes on her domineering personality in the effort
to deny his crime of matricide.

Psycho was revolutionary in many ways. It was the first movie in
which a character who had been cleverly positioned as the main pro-
tagonist was killed off early on (after forty minutes), to make the initial
murder even more disturbing, and that was the reason Hitchcock
chose Janet Leigh at the height of her celebrity: no one would guess
that he would dare dispense with Tony Curtis s wife so viciously and
arbitrarily. Hitchcock also broke new ground by filming a toilet bowl;
by putting a star (Leigh) on screen in a brassiere in a movie that wasn't
sexploitation; and by casting a popular teen idol, and Top Forty hit-
maker, as a murdering transvestite. Anthony Perkins knew he was mak-
ing the career move of his life: he was right, but he didn't know how
typecast he would be because of the film's astonishing success.

Psycho was also the first English-language movie to be promoted
with the "No one ... BUT NO ONE ... will be admitted to the
theatre after the start of each performance" gimmick. Audiences of
the day thought nothing of arriving in the middle of movie and
leaving during the next showing; Hitchcock knew that his shock
ending would never work in that environment and he instigated a
permanent change in viewing habits.

Most significantly, though, Psycho was the first horror movie to
scare audiences senseless and leave them rigid with terror.

dir Stuart Gordon, 1985, US, 86m
cast Jeffrey Combs, Bruce Abbott, Barbara Crampton, David
Gale, Robert Sampson cin Mac Ahlberg m Richard Band

Rhode Island recluse H. P. Lovecraft's Herbert West - Reanimator short
stories were going to be the basis of a play at Chicago's Organic
Theatre and a pilot for a television series, but innovative stage direc-
tor Stuart Gordon was persuaded by first-time producer Brian
Yuzna that film would be the best medium. The horror world
will always remain eternally grateful, for Re-Animator is a witty
excess-all-areas horror gem capturing perfectly the sick humour

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