A woman arrives at a strange motel, having arranged to meet her lover. There she encounters Norman (Perkins), seemingly controlled by his mother. She decides to take a shower...

Everyone must be familiar by now with the events at the Bates Motel. With Psycho, his blackest, most cynical and most manipulative feature, Alfred Hitchcock introduced the American Nightmare strain into the genre. He also revived the fast-fading art of montage with the now legendary shower sequence. To the accompaniment of Bernard Hermann's shrieking strings, Hitch (and "visual consultant" Saul Bass) packed 87 cross-cuts into a frenzied 45 seconds to create the most perfectly timed visual shock since the Odessa Steps massacre in Battleship Potemkin.

Throw in some fluid camera movements, the odd technical flourish, superb performances (notably from Janet Leigh and the remarkable Anthony Perkins), the occasional heart-stopping jolt and a trick ending and you have a timeless classic. The perfect nightmare.


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