Reviewed 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.
First 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?
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
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