Psycho is based on a book of the same name by Robert Bloch. During its writing, Bloch was living 35 miles away from the real-life murders of Ed Gein, a serial killer who flayed his victims in what psychiatrists believed was an attempt to make a skin suit so he could pretend to be his dead, domineering, puritanical mother. It’s often claimed that Psycho was inspired by Ed Gein. Not so; he wasn’t caught until just before the book was finished. It’s just a horrific coincidence. Sleep well!
Psycho the movie is, of course, a master-class in suspense. Alfred Hitchcock reinvented how to scare people with movies, and he did so with such precision and effectiveness that the films he made are still used as models 50 years later. Psycho puts you, the viewer, in such tight contact with its actors that you almost can’t breathe; it’s like you’re physically in the room with Anthony Perkins and Janet Leigh. And the cold nonchalance with which it documents the aftermath of its violence is almost more shocking than the violence itself. It was made in 1960 and it will still scare the pants off you today.