by: The HORROR Man
Now we delve into the realm of the slasher film.
Oh the slasher film, how vast are ye? There are so many titles to choose from. Better start this off with a genre must see. Gory, good, and a bit cheesy. This is how we like our slasher films around here. So with out further delay I give you the ” grandaddy” of all slasher films:
Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho is a must for this time of year. This film changed the way a horror film should be filmed. Anthony Perkins role as Norman Bates is one of legend to this day. Any horror fan, scratch that, every horror fan has this on there favorites list. The film is so iconic and has such a aura to it that it shivers the spine.
Phoenix office worker Marion Crane is fed up with the way life has treated her. She has to meet her lover Sam in lunch breaks and they cannot get married because Sam has to give most of his money away in alimony. One Friday Marion is trusted to bank $40,000 by her employer. Seeing the opportunity to take the money and start a new life, Marion leaves town and heads towards Sam’s California store. Tired after the long drive and caught in a storm, she gets off the main highway and pulls into The Bates Motel. The motel is managed by a quiet young man called Norman who seems to be dominated by his mother.
Janet Leigh who portrays Marion Crane in the film shocked audiences, not by her grizzly death but her strutting around in only a slip and bra at the beginning of the film. Remember this film was released in 1960 so many peoples viewpoints were not as open as today’s. In the opening scene, Marion Crane is wearing a white bra because Alfred Hitchcock wanted to show her as being “angelic”. After she has taken the money, the following scene has her in a black bra because now she has done something wrong and evil. Similarly, before she steals the money, she has a white purse; after she’s stolen the money, her purse is black.
Then who could forget the infamous shower scene? There is probably no other scene in cinematic history that made an audience literally jump out of there seat!
There is nothing new to say about Psycho that has not already been said. Psycho is without a doubt, a must see for, not just horror fans, but for movie fans in general. What Hitchcock did with this film is something of legend. One of the reasons Alfred Hitchcock shot the movie in black and white was he thought it would be too gory in color. But the main reason was that he wanted to make the film as inexpensively as possible (under $1 million). He also wondered if so many bad, inexpensively made, b/w “B” movies did so well at the box office, what would happen if a really good, inexpensively made, b/w movie was made.
It took twenty two years for the sequel to Psycho to even be considered. So let us continue our journey into madness with:
PSYCHO II (1983)
Some viewed a sequel to Psycho as a slap in the face. Yet many on the other had disagree. The actual plot and storyline for Psycho II is very well written. Anthony Perkins returns to play his most recognized character Norman Bates. This was a relief to many fans.
Now declared legally sane, Norman Bates is released from a mental institution after spending 22 years in confinement over the protests of Marion Crane’s sister Lila Loomis, who insists that he’s still a killer and that the court’s indifference to his victims by releasing him is a gross miscarriage of justice. Norman returns to his motel and the old Victorian mansion where his troubles started, and history predictably begins to repeat itself.
The script was written by horror legend Tom Holland and proves just what a fan he was of Hitchcock’s original. Director Richard Franklin had such an undertaking in trying to recreate the suspense of the original that many thought it could not be done.
Watch Psycho and Psycho II back to back and its a great double feature. There are no plot holes to speak of and the chemistry between Meg Tilly and Anthony Perkins is amazing. Meg Tilly was never allowed to watch any sort of television as a child, and so had never seen the original Psycho (1960) and was unaware of its significance. She didn’t understand why the press was giving all the attention to Anthony Perkins for his comeback role in this movie, and one day on the set Perkins overheard her say, “Why is Tony getting all the attention?” Perkins was upset, didn’t talk to her during filming, and recommended that she be replaced, even though half of her scenes had already been shot.
Add to this the fact that, as the viewer, you feel great sorrow for Norman. He’s been through so much and all he wants to be left alone. This of course does not happen for Norman. The ending of this film was such a shock that words alone can not convey how brutal it was.
Now if those two films are not enough for you, well sit back and enjoy:
PSYCHO III (1986)
Anthony Perkins did double duty in Psycho III as director and reprising his role as Norman Bates.
One month after the events of PSYCHO II, Norman is still running the Bates Motel along with “Mother”. Things are going fine until Norman falls in love with a fallen nun, takes in a greedy drifter, a nosy reporter sticks her nose where it doesn’t belong and a series of murders begins once again.
All these things happen within a months time? Can you imagine that? That would make anyone go crazy…again! Psycho III has some amazing storytelling and really wraps up the Psycho mythos. Yet there was much to still want from the franchise.
As the viewer, we see just how crazy Norman really is and why he does the things he does. Psycho III can best be labeled the most gruesome of the sequels and most shocking. The sequence where the fallen nun shouts “THERE IS NO GOD” sends shivers down ones spine.
Director Anthony Perkins originally wanted Jeff Fahey to be completely nude in the foreplay scene between Duke and Red, but Fahey felt too uncomfortable being completely nude on camera, so he was allowed to hold two lamps to partially cover himself.
Where the film was lacking, the acting took over. Personally the cast of Psycho III made this movie better than any of the sequels combined.
Sadly, during filming of this movie, Anthony Perkins was diagnosed as HIV-positive when he went to a clinic for routine medical examination.
Now before you think your safe we have one more notch to add to your Psycho viewing pleasure. Sadly this one was a strict “made for t.v” version”.
PSYCHO IV (1990)
Psycho IV is actually the lesser watched film in the Psycho franchise. This does not however take away fro it the relevance it has to the entire story behind Norman Bates.
Norman Bates returns for this “prequel”, once more having mommy trouble. This time around he is invited to share memories of mom with a radio talk show host, but Norman fears that he may kill again for his beloved is impregnated with his child and Norman cannot let another PSYCHO loose in the civilized world.
Norman Bates is again released from the mental hospital he was placed in at the end of Psycho III after serving another few years and is apparently rehabiliated for the second time. Norman is now married to a young nurse named Connie and is expecting a child. However, Norman fears that the child will inherit his mental illness.
Meanwhile, Fran Ambrose is a radio talk show host who is discussing the topic of matricide with guest Dr. Richmond, Norman’s former psychologist. The radio station receives a call from Norman, who uses the alias “Ed” to tell his story.
When Norman first calls into the radio show, he says that his name is Ed. Robert Bloch, author of the original novel “Psycho”, based Norman Bates on real-life Wisconsin serial killer and cannibal Ed Gein
This film explains everything. Olivia Hussey plays Norma Bates, Normans mother, and proves just how crazy she was as well. You see young Norman played by E.T star, Henry Thomas, go through so much misery and neglect from his mother that its not wonder Norman killed her.
The film answers many questions and is a great cap to the Psycho mythos. We all love Norman Bates and it is very fitting to see him go out the way he does in Psycho IV.
Well did you enjoy my little romp threw slasher territory? Don’t worry I have more killers in my pocket than Norman Bates has Knives.