The modern horror movie was born 50 years ago in Phoenix. It was a Friday, Dec. 11, at 2:43 p.m. — or at least that…
Movie on DVD Review

Psycho

Janet Leigh, American Psycho | SHOWER TIME! Janet Leigh in a rather unmemorable scene from Psycho
Image credit: Mary Evans/Everett Collection
SHOWER TIME! Janet Leigh in a rather unmemorable scene from Psycho

The modern horror movie was born 50 years ago in Phoenix. It was a Friday, Dec. 11, at 2:43 p.m. — or at least that was the time and place that flashed on screen at the beginning of Alfred Hitchcock's masterpiece Psycho (R, 1 hr., 49 mins.). Let's be even more specific and put it at the 47-minute mark, when Janet Leigh's Marion Crane takes her infamous shower. It's ridiculous, of course, to reduce one of the greatest films ever made to a single scene. But when Leigh is slashed to ribbons and the camera spins around the bloody drain, dissolving into a close-up of her lifeless eyeball, it's the exact moment when Hitchcock said to hell with the rules. From then on, no one was safe. Even the biggest stars could be butchered halfway through their own pictures. Fifty years on, Psycho is still damn near perfect. It makes us shudder, sweat, and shield our eyes. Now comes a spotless new Blu-ray anniversary edition, and Robert V. Galluzzo's obsessive documentary, The Psycho Legacy, which gathers a who's who of filmmakers and genre nerds to dissect the movie with the same gory glee as knife-wielding mama's boy Norman Bates. The retrospective is dizzy with backstory, dish, and lore. My favorite is an old interview with Leigh, who admits that after shooting Psycho she couldn't bear to take showers — only baths for her. Who could blame the gal? Psycho: A Legacy: B

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Originally posted Oct 13, 2010 Published in issue #1125-1126 Oct 22, 2010 Order article reprints
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