Psycho:
Fear

         The scariest movie ever made might seem far-fetched. Especially since the movie was made so long ago one might ask, “How could they even be capable with the technology they had, to make the best anything ever?” First of all, let us not forget Orson Welles’ 1941 Citizen Kane was made even earlier. Secondly that is precisely the beauty of the movie. It does not tell you anything. As Janet Leigh said, “The brilliance of Psycho was that your imagination was allowed to flourish.”

         The imagination ran wild. The beautiful but chillingly simple string-only orchestra sent chills down even the most brave of people’s spines. Bernard Herrmann basically created a masterpiece in the string instruments. And Hitchcock was no stranger to suspense movies. He was, as people said who worked with him, “the master.”

         I feel that Psycho (1960) exemplifies the art of film making while still making the movie accessibly to a mainstream audience. In fact, the movie was so popular one drive-in in New Jersey had cars lined up for three miles, waiting to see the movie. It was just that good.

         And it broke precedent. From simple things to being the first movie to show a toilet on screen (much less flushing it), to using a string-only orchestra, to being one of the first to show a lead actress in a bra--all of these were groundbreaking for their time.

         But the most impressive and thus memorable moment in Psycho was the infamous shower scene. Seven days went into the making of the scene. The end effect is one of the most horrific in cinematic history and at the same time most beautiful. Post movie release, it was said that Hitchcock got letters saying that people were too scared to use a shower after watching the scene. Furthermore, the whole scene was shot without showing one breast: without one knife penetrating skin--just one’s imagination seeing everything.

         That scene immediately after one views it burns itself into one’s memory--forever changing the way one looks at a shower. It also showed film makers everywhere that they do not have to show a knife going through skin to be scary, and[they do not have to show total nudity to capture an audience. It was the peak of horror films.

A. J. Casey

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