The Master's most notorious film is still terrifying after all these
years, as larcenous Leigh picks the wrong place to spend a night: The
Bates Motel (12 cabins, 12 vacancies and 12 showers), run by a peculiar
young man and his crotchety old "mother." Hitchcock's murder set-pieces
are so potent, they can galvanize (and frighten) even a viewer who's
seen them before! Bernard Herrmann's legendary (and endlessly imitated)
score adds much to the excitement. Script by Joseph Stefano from the
Robert Bloch novel. Followed by three sequels (the last for cable TV)
and a TV movie (Bates Motel) decades later!
film only cost $800,000 to make yet has earned more than $40,000,000.
Hitchcock used the crew from his TV series to save time and money. In
1962 exchanged the rights to the film and his TV-series for a huge block
of MCA's stock (he became their third largest stockholder).
Robert Bloch's original novel was inspired
by the notorious serial killer Ed Gein who was also one of the inspirations
for the character of Hannibal Lector (The Silence of the Lambs/Manhunter).
Hitchcock bought the rights to the novel
anonymously from Robert Bloch for just $9,000. He then bought up as
many copies of the novel as he could to keep the ending a secret.
The blood in the shower scene is actually
The shot of Janet Leigh flushing the toilet
is believed to be the first such shot in American cinema history.
The MPAA refused to pass this film because
they claimed to be able to see Janet Leigh's nipple during the shower
scene. Hitchcock didn't edit it out, but merely sent it back, (correctly,
it seems) assuming that they either wouldn't bother to watch it, or
miss it the second time.
Hitchcock insisted that audiences should
only be allowed to see the film from the start so as not to ruin the
surprise. This was unheard of back then as people were used to just
coming in at any point during a movie.
After the film's release Hitchcock received
an angry letter from the father of a girl who refused to have a bath
after seeing Diabolique and now refused to shower after seeing Psycho.
Hitch sent a note back simply saying "Send her to the dry cleaners".
Hitchcock makes his cameo appearance 4 minutes in wearing a cowboy hat
outside Janet Leigh's office.