6. Mrs Bates' House
Standing atop a hill behind the motel cabins, the Gothic, Victorian style mansion is definitely the scariest house in cinema history even more so than that one with a face in The Amityville Horror
and the dilapidated ruin that houses horror's ugliest villain, in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
7. The SoundtrackBernard Herrmann's
string score is simultaneously rich and sensual, and horrific and harsh. It immediately exemplifies the terror on screen and portrays as much emotion as the characters. A host of imitations have been produced in the wake of it's success, and it's become the signature tune for shocking horror in pop culture/parody.
8. The Performance of Anthony Perkins' Career
Before Psycho, the young Anthony Perkins
was something of a teen idol - a handsome actor whose awkward shyness made him a hit with young girls audiences. Immediately before Psycho, he had starred alongside Jane Fonda in Tall Story
, a sporting college rom-com. Perkins was gifted with the boyishness of Tom Hanks but without the confidence.
Alfred Hitchcock cast him as the sexually disturbed serial killer Norman Bates as something of a novelty, very much hiring against type and using the familiar Perkins persona, to create something even more menacing than if he had hired Robert Mitchum
, or any other vet screen villains. Perkins manages to make the audience feel sympathetic towards him before slowly revealing to us that even the innocent, charming boy next door could be as murderous as anyone.
The performance made his career, and in a way also ended it as he was unable to convince Hollywood directors that he could be seen as anything but Norman Bates ever again. He was to play the character for three further sequels, even writing and directing Psycho III
9. The Flushing Toilet!
Psycho was the first film to break the censor's taboo of showing a flushing toilet!
It hardly seems an unmentionable (and 'un-showable') piece of equipment these days, but Hitchcock's display of this was used to distract the censors from his important risqué moments (i.e. the murder, Norman in drag etc). There's been no looking back since and the toilet has become a regular feature in motion pictures (just remember the constant flow of teen movies in the 90s, where drunk kids puking in the bowl was the sign of a good party!).
10. The New Face of Horror
Hitchcock's film changed the face of the horror genre forever. It's widely cited as being the first movie to feature the conventions of the slasher film sub-genre, whilst also kicking off a slew of successful psychological horrors during the 60s and beyond. Without Psycho, it's difficult to believe Leatherface, Freddy Krueger, Michael Myers or Jason Vorhees would ever have existed.