On this day in horror history, Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho with Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, and Vera Miles premiered in New York City in 1960.
Widely considered to be the first slasher film, it was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Supporting Actress, Best Art Direction, and Best Cinematography, and Best Director for Hitchcock.
Hitchcock financed and independently produced the film himself on a tight budget of $807K. It was filmed in black-and-white by a television crew from November 1959 – February 1960.
The shower scene was shot in December 1959. Seventy-seven different camera angles and 50 cuts were used for the three-minute sequence.
It stars Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates, Janet Leigh as Marion Crane, Vera Miles as Lila Crane, John Gavin as Sam Loomis, and Martin Balsam as Milton Arbogast. Three actresses (Virginia Gregg, Paul Jasmin, and Jeanette Nolan) were used to create the voice of Norma “Mother” Bates.
Bernard Herrmann provided the classic score.
Written by Joseph Stefano based on Robert Bloch’s 1959 novel, it tells the tale of Marion Crane (Janet Leigh), on the lam after stealing $40,000 from her employer in order to run away with her boyfriend, Sam Loomis (John Gavin), is overcome by exhaustion during a heavy rainstorm.
Traveling on the back roads to avoid the police, she stops for the night at the ramshackle Bates Motel and meets the polite but highly strung proprietor Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), a young man with an interest in taxidermy and a difficult relationship with his mother.
The masterpiece sports a well-deserved 96% on Rotten Tomatoes with this Critics Consensus: Infamous for its shower scene, but immortal for its contribution to the horror genre. Filmed with tact, grace, and art, Hitchcock didn’t just create modern horror, he validated it.