Thursday, March 24, 2011

Iconic Horror Scene: Psycho (1960)

This scene comes from my favorite Alfred Hitchcock film, and one of my favorite films in general. It is quite an unnerving scene because, for starters, it is killing off the woman who has been the main focus throughout the film. Usually in horror films, the main character is fine throughout the whole film and ends up being the only survivor. With this film, however, it is throwing you for a loop by letting you get to know this character and then suddenly taking her away.
The scene starts out perfectly normal with Marion Crane taking a show. After a while, though, you see a dark figure on the otherside of the shower curtain. This adds a bit of dramatic irony, because you know something is about to happen even though the main character does not.

Then, of course, comes one of the most famous moments in horror film history, with the figure pulling back the curtain while Psycho's famous score shrieks along with him. Then, there is the infamous close-up shot of Janet Leigh's scream.

The stabbing sequence is far from graphic, but the combination of the editing, the score, and the camera angles make it seem like we are seeing much more than we actually are.

One thing that makes this scene frightening is that it plays on how vulnerable we are in the shower. In the shower we are completely naked, standing on a slippery surface, and basically backed into a corner with nowhere to run. You see a lot of movies that use this including  Cabin Fever and The Grudge.

Cabin Fever

The Grudge
Even though this is the scene that is most commonly associated with this film, there are tons of great scenes. In my opinion, Psycho is one of the greatest films ever made and is one that everyone should see.

*Little factoid: I just realized that the two scenes I picked so far for my Iconic Horror Scene column are from films inspired by Ed Gein, a serial killer from Wisconsin, which is the state where I grew up. So.....go Wisconsin?

No comments:

Post a Comment