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Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho: 07/03/11

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Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho by Stephen Rebello opens with Ed Gein. Taxidermy, furniture and clothing made of human flesh and bone, cannibalism and run down cluttered homes. If you see any of these motifs in film you owe them to one real life monster named Ed Gein. And Psycho was the first to draw creative inspiration from his crimes. Ed Gein, though, makes Norman Bates look like a pussycat.

From the true crime this reissued book about the making of Psycho goes through all the steps that lead to the progenitor of the modern horror film. There's a chapter on Robert Bloch's novel and how it came to be purchased by Alfred Hitchcock.

Most of the book though is about the film itself. Of most interest to me was how the film was shot like an extended episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Although there was speculation at the time that it might be used for the series, Rebello argues (quite effectively) that the approach was a cost saving measure and as well as a chance for Hitchcock to step away from the elaborate (and expensive) full color films he had been making at the time. A low budget also gave Hitchcock more creative freedom because no one was worried about where the money was going.

I read an egalley via NetGalley.

Five stars.

Comments (2)

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Comment #1: Monday, July, 4, 2011 at 15:13:37


I watched a documentary on Psycho where they also mentioned how Hitchcock's goal was to make a cheap, B-level movie. I forget what the budget was for Psycho exactly, but it was amazingly cheap to produce.

I wonder whatever happened to B-movies? Are they straight-to-DVD or -cable now?

Comment #2: Tuesday, July 5, 2011 at 23:01:51


Rebello's argument is that Hitchcock aimed to make a B movie for two reasons. First he was burned out from making big budget affairs and was having far more fun doing the TV show than he had with his previous films. The second reason was control. The less money he spent the less editorial control the studio tried to have on the film.

B-movies were a part of the old studio system. Theaters would have to agree to give screen time to the studios smaller films if they wanted the big money earners. Various lawsuits have barred studios from doing that any longer for theatrical releases. The very cheaply made are either put on only a few screens in select cities, put straight to video or done as made for TV movies. There's a new market now opening up as movies and series produced for the internet.

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