Alfred Hitchcock's PSYCHO 50th Anniversary Edition - Blu-ray Review by Dean Winkelspecht

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A new-and altogether different-screen excitement!!!

"Mother! Oh God, mother! Blood! Blood!"

"The most brilliant bait-and-switch proposition in motion picture history."

"Hitchcock's only out-and-out horror flick -- and possibly the most important ever made."
—Jamie Graham (Total Film)

"It's such an essential film -- remaining fresh, shocking, perversely funny and tragic."
—Kim Newman (Empire)

"Nearly 50 years after its release in 1960, the 45-second shower scene in PSYCHO is still terrifying and paralyzing."
—Betsy Sharkey (Los Angeles Times)

Universal Studios presents:
Alfred Hitchcock's PSYCHO
— 50th Anniversary Edition on Blu-ray »

(Now available - released October 19)

Own THE Film that defined a genre!

Universal City, CA — Hailed as one of the most influential suspense movies of its time, Alfred Hitchcock's PSYCHO had a profound effect on how future filmmakers made movies and shaped audience expectations for generations to come.

To commemorate the 50th Anniversary of one of Universal Studios' most treasured and prestigious films, Psycho debuted for the first time ever on Blu-ray™ (Oct 19). Fans can now enjoy a superior quality, hi-def experience when viewing this re-mastered classic. Suggested retail price is $26.98.

Psycho was also honored during its landmark anniversary by the esteemed 2010 Festival De Cannes. Chosen as a Cannes Classic Selection, the film was recognized as a restored masterwork from the past.

Meticulously restored for perfect digital picture and the purest DTS HD 5.1 digital sound, the Psycho 50th Anniversary Edition takes audiences on a thrilling journey as an unsuspecting victim (Janet Leigh, The Manchurian Candidate, Bye Bye Birdie) visits the Bates Motel and falls prey to one of the silver screen's most notorious psychopaths – Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins, Murder on the Orient Express, Les Miserables). Featuring one of the most iconic scenes in film history – the infamous "shower scene" – Psycho continues to terrify audiences today as much as it did half a century ago.

The Psycho 50th Anniversary Edition is packed with extras, including behind-the-scenes bonus features, documentaries, audio interviews and an in-depth look at the re-mastering process. Universal Studios BluWave Audio (Universal's in-house post production sound facility) started the re-mastering process with the film's previously preserved and restored soundtrack to create a new 5.1 mix. BluWave then contracted Audionamix, a Paris-based audio technology company, to split the original mono music source into quasi-orchestral tracks. Audionamix, a leader in soundtrack separation, then applied their breakthrough proprietary technology enabling BluWave to create a discrete 5.1 split music mix.

BluWave's creative talent gathered the original sound effects from the Studios' extensive effects library and, using these source materials, created a 5.1 up-mix to bring Psycho's soundtrack up to the expectations of contemporary audiences while maintaining the original integrity of the filmmaker's vision.

Psycho's mono audio track will also be available for viewers who want to experience the film in its original form on its golden anniversary. This cinematic achievement from the Master of Suspense is an essential addition to every movie lover's library.

Psycho 50th Anniversary Edition on Blu-ray™ unleashes the power of your HDTV with perfect picture and the purest digital sound available and contains extensive bonus features including:

• BD-Live Enabled
• Psycho Sound: A never-before-seen piece that looks at the re-mastering process required to create a 5.1 mix from the original mono elements using Audionamix technology
• The Making of Psycho: A feature-length documentary on Hitchcock's most shocking film
• In the Master's Shadow – Hitchcock's Legacy: Some of Hollywood's top filmmakers discuss Hitchcock's influence and why his movies continue to thrill audiences
• Hitchcock/Truffaut Interviews: Excerpts from a 1962 audio interview with Alfred Hitchcock
• Audio Commentary: Feature-length audio commentary with Stephen Rebello (Author of "Alfred Hitchcock and the making of Psycho")
• Newsreel Footage: The Release of Psycho: Vintage newsreel on the unique policy Alfred Hitchcock insisted upon for the release of the film
• The Shower Scene: A look at the impact of music on the infamous "shower scene"
• The Shower Scene: Storyboards by Saul Bass: Original storyboard design
• Production Notes: Read an essay on the making of the film
• The Psycho Archives: See the gallery of on-set photo stills from the film's production
• Posters and Psycho Ads: See a gallery of original posters and ads from the theatrical campaign
• Lobby Cards: View a gallery of promotional lobby cards from the film's theatrical campaign
• Behind-The-Scenes Photographs: View rare photos showing the cast and crew at work
• Theatrical Trailer: Watch the original promotional trailer from the film's theatrical campaign.
• Re-Release Trailers: Watch the promotional trailer created for the re-release of the film
• English, French and Spanish subtitles

PSYCHO is the horror film that spawned a thousand imitations, not to mention three sequels. A busty blonde pockets $40,000 in stolen cash following a tryst with her divorced lover. Afterward, she heads up to a remote rural motel run by psychotic mama's boy Norman Bates. The stage is now set for a classic tale of terror and depravity that includes a cross-dressing murderer, stuffed corpses, the ultimate Oedipal conflict, and, of course, the most notorious shower scene ever filmed. Based on the novel by Robert Bloch, PSYCHO is generally considered the progenitor of the horror genre--and an unmitigated masterpiece.

Credited with inventing the genre of the modern horror film, PSYCHO has had its share of sequels and imitators, none of which diminishes the achievement of this shocking and complex horror thriller. Alfred Hitchcock's choreography of elements in PSYCHO is considered so perfect it inspired a shot-by-shot remake by Gus Van Zant in 1998. However, Hitchcock's black-and-white original, featuring Anthony Perkins's haunting characterization of lonely motel keeper Norman Bates, has never been equaled.

Bates presides over an out-of-the-way motel under the domineering specter of his mother. The young, well-intentioned Bates is introduced to the audience when Marion Crane (Janet Leigh), a blonde on the run with stolen money, checks in for the night. But Momma doesn't like loose women, so the stage is set for this classic tale of horror--and one of the most famous scenes in film history.

PSYCHO was initially received by audiences with shock and amazement--and it still terrifies today. Though it is now considered prototypical Hitchcock, its setting, pace, and emphasis on terror were major departures for the director at the time, coming after the more classically grand North by Northwest.

PSYCHO is number 18 on the American Film Institute's list of America's 100 Greatest Movies. PSYCHO was added to the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 1992. PSYCHO was followed by PSYCHO II (1983), directed by Richard Franklin; PSYCHO III (1986), directed by Anthony Perkins; and PSYCHO IV: THE BEGINNING (1990), directed by Mick Garris. Gus Van Zant directed a shot-by-shot remake of PSYCHO in 1998.

Hitchcock insisted that no one be allowed to enter the theater after the film had started. Joseph Stefano was the winner of the 1960 Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Screenplay. Filmed on an approximate budget of $800,000. The memorable music score was composed by Bernard Herrmann. PSYCHO was the first Hollywood film to show an image of a toilet flushing. In its original release, which was before the MPAA, the film had no rating; it was rated M (for Mature Audiences) by the MPAA for a 1968 reissue, then re-rated R in 1984.

Alfred Hitchcock's PSYCHO — Explore further:
—> Blu-ray Review by Dean Winkelspecht »
EXCERPT: Serial killer Ed Gein is one of the most inspirational personalities in cinema and has been the basis for fictional murderers Norman Bates, "Silence of the Lambs" killer Buffalo Bill and others. Each killer on the big screen has taken just a little bit of Gein's personality and horrific traits and legendary director Alfred Hitchcock based his iconic film "Psycho" from a Robert Bloch novel that was based on Gein's love affair with his mother and desire to dress as a woman during his reign of terror where the Midwestern killer collected body parts and silenced a nation with his killing spree during the late 1950s. Gein had only been connected to two murders, but is one of histories most notorious killers. In comparison, "Psycho" has a very small body count, but it too is considered one of the truly classic horror films and Bates is spoken alongside other big screen killers such as Freddy Kreuger, Jason Vorhees and Michael Myers.

"Psycho" is not necessarily a horror film and I've never viewed as such myself. The film turns fifty this year and was released in 1960; three short years after Gein's rise to notoriety. The film is a suspense thriller and the film's trademark shower scene does not occur until roughly halfway through the film as the plot initially bases itself around the victim's thievery of forty thousand dollars from her boss and fleeing to join her financially strapped boyfriend. Hitchcock is one of the truly great murder mystery writers and relied on an uncanny ability to film suspense and tension. I've always viewed a 'horror' film as relying on blood, thrills and scares to keep an audience uneasy. "Psycho" utilizes a curious character to drive terror as it is never known when the next tenant of the Bates Motel will end up in the swamp.

As to the depths of Hitchcock, his devices and ability to add underlying themes to his films, "Psycho" is full of them. White and black are two distinct entities used in the film to show motivation and intent. When Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) is first revealed, she is wearing a white bra and talks of love and marriage. She is the good girl in a shady romance. When she decides to steal money and run away to her boyfriend, her motives are no longer pure and she now is shown wearing a black bra. Reflections play another strong element in the film. Characters are viewed through mirrors, window reflections and sunglasses. "Birds" is one of Hitchcock's great achievements and they too play a part in this film as character names, Norman's hobby and other topics surround birds.

Anthony Perkins and Janet Leigh drive this film with their performances. Leigh is an early "scream queen," but she brings intelligence to her role and is very convincing in showing uneasiness, paranoia, and remorse over her actions. In the brief shower scene, she shows true horror and the final shot of her head on the white floor of the bathroom is not easily forgotten. Leigh had a long and celebrated career, but this is the film she is most remembered for. "Psycho" did typecast Perkins, but he would go on to star in films such as "The Black Hole," "Murder on the Orient Express," three "Psycho" sequels and a number of other films. He played the dark and brooding bad guy in many of his roles, but after playing Bates, Perkins handsome smile became familiar to everyone.

I have a feeling that as "Psycho" celebrates an amazing fifty years, it will still be just as special when it hits the century mark. "Good Afternoon" was a familiar greeting from Alfred Hitchcock and fifty years later, "Psycho" is his most familiar film. He had used that greeting during the original theatrical trailer and I'm sure he would be amazed to know the popularity and influence of his film a half a century later. This is a movie that redefined the 'suspense' and 'horror' genres and filmmaking in general. The new "50th Anniversary Edition" Blu-ray release of "Psycho" celebrates this landmark film with a very impressive release that brings the film up to modern technology and provides a testament to the filmmaking, storytelling and influences this film has had. The film has held up easily since its release and while it may no longer be considered shocking to some, you cannot deny its value in filmmaking history. This new Blu-ray release is the absolute definitive release for this film to date.

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Film Synopsis:
A new-and altogether different-screen excitement!!!
No One... BUT NO ONE... will be admitted to the theatre after the start of each performance of Alfred Hitchcock's PSYCHO

A young woman steals $40,000 from her employer's client, and subsequently encounters a young motel proprietor too long under the domination of his mother.

Alfred Hitchock's landmark masterpiece of the macabre stars Anthony Perkins as the troubled Norman Bates, whose old dark house and adjoining motel are not the place to spend a quiet evening. No one knows that better than Marion Crane (Janet Leigh), the ill-fated traveler whose journey ends in the notorious "shower scene." First a private detective, then Marion's sister (Vera Miles) searches for her, the horror and the suspense mount to a terrifying climax where the mysterious killer is finally revealed.

Join the Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock, on a chilling journey as an unsuspecting victim visits the Bates Motel and falls prey to one of cinema's most notorious psychopaths - Norman Bates. Named number one on the AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills list, this infamous film has become a cultural phenomenon. Featuring one of the most iconic scenes in film history - the famous "shower scene," Psycho is "still terrifying after all these years" (Leonard Maltin's Classic Movie Guide).