No matter how many times I watch Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho I always dupe myself. I know it's quite ridiculous, but every time the movie stars I forget that at the 45-minute mark Marion Crane will die. Her story is so ostensibly sidetracking to the viewer that it's not hard to imagine why audiences were shocked - nay, downright paralysed - to see Janet Leigh's Marion die in the shower. That's one of the reasons why Psycho is so good. All the story strands would make entirely great movies on their own. A feature-length movie about Marion Crane would be so interesting to see. What could happen to her and Sam? The possibilities are endless. And then there's the story of Norman Bates. And so on.
The way the movie builds up to the shower scene is, obviously, some of the finest movie-making ever. That's a pretty much accepted fact. So too is the shower scene itself. I'm not sure if there's ever been a better scene in movies. Ever. And that's saying something. It is shocking and frightening and I can never believe what I'm watching. How did anybody think of this? It seems mindboggling today to think of a director making a film as audatious as Psycho. The closest I can think of is The Sixth Sense, but even that works on a completely different level.
Psycho is more than just a great horror movie. It's seriously a complete and total work of art.
It should come as no surprise to people who have seen them that I got the urge to rewatch Psycho after watching Robert Wise's The Haunting. Another extremely wellmade classy fright flick. I swear I jumped out of my seat when the woman popped out of the attic and then again on the road. Jesus. Those thumping scenes, too, were just edge-of-your-seat material.
I'm not sure why prestige directors these days seem to have deserted horror movies. Robert Wise made this black and white haunted house movie just three years (if I'm not mistaken) after his Oscar-winning West Side Story. And he made it a couple of years before another Oscar winner, The Sound of Music. Why can't someone of the likes of Steven Spielberg or, this could be interesting to say the least, Clint Eastwood or any number of other higher profile directors direct scary movies?
I believe there's still a place with modern viewers for movies such as these. More adult-oriented horror stories. The only recent movies that I can think of that fit the mold are Alejandro Amenabar's The Others and Shyamalan's Signs. Two movies that are incredibly well-made and legitimately scary (for some). And, hello, they were big hits. They made more than all of the Hostel-type movies and all the remakes of 1970s movies that nobody particularly asked for. If someone makes a good scary movie, people will go and see it. The remaking-Asia trend is finally breathing it's last breath (they're all shithouse so it's about time) and surely they'll start running out of American horror movies to remake soon enough. SURELY. PLEASE. Maybe the next trend will be old school scary movies. Maybe somebody will make a black and white one! God, I'd love that.
There was a rumour a while ago that Spike Jonze was going to make a horror movie. Yet, that never eventuated into anything, unfortunately. Oh well, at least we have the classics like Psycho and The Haunting.