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Alfred Hitchcock's powerful, complex psychological thriller, Psycho (1960) is the "mother" of all modern horror suspense films - it single-handedly ushered in an era of inferior screen 'slashers' with blood-letting and graphic, shocking killings (e.g., Homicidal (1961), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), Halloween (1978), Motel Hell (1980), and De Palma's Dressed to Kill (1980) - with another transvestite killer and shower scene).
While this was Hitchcock's first real horror film, he was mistakenly labeled as a horror film director ever since.
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(1990), Martin Walz' The Killer Condom (1997, Ger.), Wes Craven's Scream 2 (1997), Scott Spiegel's From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money (1999), and the animated Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003), in which Bugs acts out with the film's black-and-white footage and a can of Hershey's chocolate syrup poured down the drain.]In this film, Hitchcock's gimmicky device, termed a Mac Guffin (the thing or device that motivates the characters, or propels the plot and action), is the stolen ,000 from the realtor's office.
The shower scene itself has been referenced, spoofed and parodied in numerous films, including Brian De Palma's The Phantom of the Paradise (1974) and Dressed to Kill (1980), Squirm (1976), Victor Zimmerman's low-budget Fade to Black (1980), Tobe Hooper's The Funhouse (1981), John De Bello's Killer Tomatoes Strike Back!
Hitchcock's techniques voyeuristically implicate the audience with the universal, dark evil forces and secrets present in the film.
Psycho also broke all film conventions by displaying its leading female protagonist having a lunchtime affair in her sexy white undergarments in the first scene; also by photographing a toilet bowl - and flush - in a bathroom (a first in an American film), and killing off its major 'star' Janet Leigh a third of the way into the film (in a shocking, brilliantly-edited shower murder scene accompanied by screeching violins).
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The bleak, monochrome film is made more effective by Bernard Herrmann's sparse, but driving, recognizable score, first played under the frantic credits (by industry pioneer Saul Bass) - shown with abstract, gray horizontal and vertical lines that streak back and forth, violently splitting apart the screens and causing them to disappear.