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Psycho – 50th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray)

Psycho - 50th Anniversary Edition on Blu-rayReviewed by Andrew Kasch

Starring Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles, John Gavin, Janet Leigh

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

Distributed by Universal Home Video


Fifty years later, there still hasn’t been a horror film as groundbreaking and taboo annihilating as Alfred Hitchcock’s ultimate classic. It’s the grandfather of modern suspense and without it, none of us would be here talking about our love of all-things horror. So how does Universal’s anniversary Blu-ray release measure up?

There is absolutely nothing we can say about Psycho that hasn’t already been discussed, debated and dissected from the inside out. This tale of murder, mystery and motherly love is considered to be one of the best and most influential movies ever made for a damn good reason: Its legendary style and intense lead-performance by Anthony Perkins has lost none of its impact over the years. In fact, it’s arguably the most timeless horror film ever made (even with its jellin’ aspic!). So let’s skip the well-known formalities and move right into the disc itself.

Universal has taken great care with the HD presentation, keeping just the right amount of grain without scrubbing the picture artificially clean and the sound is a revelation, with a brand-new 5.1 mix that gives the film a whole new life. More studios would do wise to learn from this level of care and attention to detail (Fox, I’m looking at you). Bottom line: Psycho has never looked or sounded better.

Most of the extras are pulled from the old Collector’s Edition release. This is hardly a bad thing, considering it was one of the best special edition DVDs ever produced.

Psycho - 50th Anniversary Edition on Blu-rayFirst is the re-mastered feature length documentary The Making of Psycho, which pulled together most of the then-surviving members of cast and crew – including the late Janet Leigh and Joseph Stefano. This is one of the great in-depth making-of documentaries, made back when DVD supplements weren’t just masturbatory EPK kits. Covering every detail from conception to release, this is the definitive look at the original classic (watch it with Rob Galluzzo’s The Psycho Legacy to get the full effect of the franchise).

New to this edition is Psycho Sound which gives a nice look into the making of the new 5.1 mix (great if you’re a sound mixer) and In the Master’s Shadow: Hitchcock’s Legacy. Featuring interviews with filmmaking giants like Martin Scorcese, John Carpenter and Guillermo del Toro – along with a whole lot of random people – this featurette explores the impact of Hitchcock on modern filmmakers. It’s an interesting documentary with some great insight, even if some of the comparisons border on the ridiculous (do we really need to hear how Hitch inspired Hostel and Smokin’ Aces?).

The Shower Scene is a little featurette that shows the infamous slashing with and without Bernard Hermann’s score (the music-less version is remarkably disturbing). Also included is an interesting French radio interview with Alfred Hitchcock conducted by director Francois Truffaut (who wastes no time bashing poor Robert Bloch and unfairly ignored novel). Rounding out the experience is a treasure trove of photos, storyboards and lobby cards, along with a feature commentary by film-history author Stephen Rebello.

Overall, if you love Psycho (and if you don’t, you’re probably not reading this site), the Blu-ray version is a no-brainer. Great job, Universal! Now how about a real special edition release of Psycho II?

Special Features

  • Feature-length audio commentary with Stephen Rebello (author of Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho)
  • The Making of Psycho: A feature-length documentary on Hitchcock’s most shocking film
  • In the Master’s Shadow – Hitchcock’s Legacy: Some of Hollywood’s top filmmakers discuss Hitchcock’s influence and why his movies continue to thrill audiences
  • Hitchcock/Truffaut Interviews: Excerpts from a 1962 audio interview with Alfred Hitchcock
  • Newsreel Footage: The Release of Psycho: Vintage newsreel on the unique policy Alfred Hitchcock insisted upon for the release of the film
  • The Shower Scene: A look at the impact of music on the infamous “shower scene.
  • The Shower Scene: Storyboards by Saul Bass: Original storyboard design
  • Production Notes: Read an essay on the making of the film
  • The Psycho Archives: See the gallery of on-set photo stills from the film’s production
  • Posters and Psycho Ads: See a gallery of original posters and ads from the theatrical campaign
  • Lobby Cards: View a gallery of promotional lobby cards from the film’s theatrical campaign
  • Behind-The-Scenes Photographs: View rare photos showing the cast and crew at work
  • Psycho Sound: A never-before-seen piece that looks at the re-mastering process required to create a 5.1 mix from the original mono elements using Audionamix technology
  • Theatrical Trailer: Watch the original promotional trailer from the film’s theatrical campaign.
  • Re-Release Trailers: Watch the promotional trailer created for the re-release of the film

    Film:

    5 out of 5

    Special Features:

    5 out of 5

    Discuss Psycho in the comments section below!

  • Steve Barton

    You're such an inspiration for the ways that I will never, ever choose to be.

    • oneby1

      Best movie ever made.

    • perihelion

      I second what was said about a special edition of Psycho 2! PLEASE give it to us!!!