10/6/10

PSYCHO Half Century


The best, most shocking movie attack on aspirational middle class American white people ever made, "PSYCHO" enjoyed it's Fiftieth Birthday this summer. Alright, it's been fleeced for ideas for half a century, but "PSYCHO" will remain perverse and eerie, if no longer shocking or scary, forever. It's still full of dementia, kicked off by the film's low-rent, Arizona-to-California horizontal rip off that ends in a genteel, slow motion collision at the deathly vertical of the Bates family home. Visit Norman, the self-educated, somehow East Coast-imprint scarecrow Hamlet, riding out the last of the family wealth, incarnated incongruously in a dust bowl location only miles, it is made clear, from the still-sinister Bakersfield, California. In "PSYCHO", preserved eternally, is the existential wasteland of 1960 Caucasoid class programming, with Marion's dream destination, her "private island", Sam's debt-ridden hardware store, revealed to be plain yet vaguely menacing, invigorated only by an old lady moralizing about painless pest executions, framed by a fan of clawed garden rakes reaching up into the background. Everything's evil, and it's beautiful. And again, the cinema question is asked once more: "is 'PSYCHO' noir?"



Norman's not alone. Everybody's crazy in this movie. Crazy like Pat Hitchcock, as the newly married secretary who joyously admits to being high on tranquilizers on her wedding day; like Marion, who throws her life away for 40,000 dollars, not much to run away with even then; the sheriff's wife, who suggests stopping by for dinner and a filing of a missing persons report. They're all psycho. Except for Arbogast.
They say the ground floor of the house is Norman's ego, upstairs is Mother, his superego, and the cellar is his id. You decide.
That thing Anthony Perkins does with his eyes remains far out to this day. He isn't crossing them; one eye is going one way, then the other eye wanders independently the other way, then he snaps both eyes back to normal, to Norman, to his rotting post-grad routine.
The brand new Blu-Ray release of this killing blow to 1950's-era economic and social control devices is supposed to be insane, one of the best Blu-Rays of all time. Got to have to take a look into this Blu-Ray techknowledge. For "PSYCHO".