Halloween Horror Marathon: Psycho

poster - psycho
Each week, Halloween Horror Marathon does some themed posts. We kick off the weekend by seeing a movie in the theater. We call it Cinematic Saturdays. We were supposed to see Eli Roth’s new cannibal flick, The Green Inferno, with our brother, but he’s in Wichita watching a couple exchange tungsten rings for a wedding. Rather than sit by ourselves and feel grossed out, we’re going to talk an upcoming cinematic screening.

I’ve had the experience of watching Alfred Hitchcock‘s Psycho in a variety of situations. I’m pretty sure the first time I saw it as a kid, I already knew the basic premise, but the film is so well done, it really didn’t matter — and, honestly, the real kicker is that even if you know the shower scene is coming, nothing really prepares you for its rapid and confusing savagery.

Then, after said big to-do, there’s still an awful lot of creepy, disconcerting film to come, made all the more odd by the fact that you’d become quite invested in Marion Crane as a viewer. Now what? Everyone knows the first part of the film, but while that’s a bit of a crime caper, the vast majority is a typically taut and engaging Hitchcockian thriller.

Calling Psycho a horror film is pushing the boundaries of the genre somewhat, but I feel that, as giallo and other psychological thrillers like Eyes of a Stranger have horrific elements to them, it’s a valid inclusion. As a matter of fact, I saw the movie in not one, but two classes in college. The latter was a class called “Pop Culture of the 1960s,” which makes perfect sense, but the first class was entitled “Literature of the Gothic.” Psycho as Gothic seems almost more absurd than outright horror, until you consider Gothic’s tropes.
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There’s the uncanny, which is there in spades. There’s what’s referred to as “a pleasing sort of terror,” meaning that you’re frightened, but pleasantly so. And obviously, the double, as well as the idea of the architectural setting of the story reflecting the characters of the story. Given that the rather more modern Bates Motel sits below what is essentially a Second Empire home, there’s a mirroring of modernity and the past. Add into that the fact that the interstate left the hotel on what is now a rarely-used side roaad, and there’s another layer.

Psycho is a film that offers up new things every time one sees it, and even though the basic plot points mean that seeing the big setpieces will no longer surprise even the youngest and most naive viewer, it’s a gorgeous piece of economical filmmaking. Hitchcock’s use of his television crew means that he gets the most out of a lean budget, squeezing every scene for the maximum allotment of discomfort.

This is all a roundabout way of saying Lawrence’s Liberty Hall will screen Psycho on the big screen tomorrow, Sunday, October 4, at 7:00pm. Tickets are $8.00, and more information is available here. It’s also available as a quite-affordable, very loaded, extremely gorgeous Blu-ray, which you can purchase right here.