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Awake In The Dark
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Old May 9th, 2005, 01:32 AM   #1
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Psycho (1960)

I was in the middle of my first production (OK, it's just a little Vegas Movie Studio job I'm doing of a surprise birthday party--not much, but more than nothing). So I needed a break, so I put on Psycho for inspiration. What's the first thing I say to myself as the credits end and the movie starts? "Those camera movements are jerky. Hitchcock needed a better tripod."

I think I've been reading the Support Your Local Camera forum too much. ;)
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Old May 11th, 2005, 05:13 PM   #2
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All,

This is a post that honestly dosen't belong ANYWHERE in my opinion, but I feel needs to be told.

When my parents were first married in 1960, they saw Hitchcock's Psycho in the theatre. Besides the fact that my father wouldn't shower with the door closed afterward, they both told me something that floored me.

At the end of the shower scene in which blood is flowing down the tub drain, that was (in the theatrical version only) the only scene in color! The blood was bright red.

After attempting to contact Universal Pictures directly to find out why all current prints of the film (35MM, Video, DVD, etc...) did not have this color scene, I kept getting the run around and even got hung up on after getting laughed at.

As a filmmaker myself, I'm appalled (but not at all surprised) that a director's vision is put aside in the name of the almighty buck. There was a restoration of the film years ago, so why wasn't there a restoration of the original color scene?

I think it's time we gang up on Universal Studios, create a big stink and even get the media involved here. With publicity, we might get Universal to restore Hitchcock's original vision of Psycho -- the way he wanted us to see it.

Apologies if this seems like a rant, but as filmmakers, I believe you understand my point of view.
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Old May 11th, 2005, 05:22 PM   #3
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Rob,

I'm pretty sure I saw an interview explaining how they used chocalate syrup in the shot... so I doubt it was red.
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Old May 11th, 2005, 06:02 PM   #4
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I admit I have never heard this rumour but after doing a Google; there are some sites with trivia that make metion of 'viewers' swearing they saw 'red blood' swirl down the drain. The myth seems to be dispelled however, as mentioned Richard, that it was in fact Boscos Chocolate Syrup and a Black and White Film.

Perhaps the scene for its time was so intense that viewers minds saw what they wanted to see?
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Old May 11th, 2005, 06:22 PM   #5
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Take a look at the biography of Hitchcock which Francois Truffaut did. It consists of many hours of Truffaut interviewing Hitchcock... really fascinating. Unfortunately I loaned my copy to a friend, but there is a whole section on Psycho. Hitchcock said they filmed it in black and white because they felt that much blood would be too disturbing in color.

I believe this is actually the first of his films that Hitchcock personally produced (it was shot on a low budget and he make a ton of money), so I doubt that anyone else interfered with his "vision"...
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Old May 11th, 2005, 06:36 PM   #6
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I can believe the power of that movie could make people think they saw red blood!

These days it may be hard to recall the effect Psycho had on audiences. Hitchcock's brilliance is the precision with which he strips away our rational discernment ... 'til we're putty in his hands.

The Exorcist had similar effects on people in its turn. Not too many pictures I can think of since then have gained that kind of access to the audience's unconscious.
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Old May 11th, 2005, 07:11 PM   #7
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Good question John

I can't seem to recall any films that have this kind of legend in it's status; Halloween maybe? I know this one scared me as I saw it when I was 8. Maybe Texas Chainsaw?
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Old May 11th, 2005, 07:44 PM   #8
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In a way, kids are the easy targets for this kind of thing because they're half in fantasy anyway. I remember a Hammer version of Frankenstein on TV in Chicago that scared me so badly I couldn't be in the same room—but I was only 8!

Adults are far harder. The task of a Psycho or the like is greater than to merely exploit audience's willing suspension of disbelief. Somehow you've got to worm your way into their unthinking, inner lives and weave a tale that just plausible enough that you don't rouse their "street sense." Then you can begin to people that inner darkness with all manner of horrible things. Welles and Kubrick talked (separately) about movies' power to concretize the illogical logic of dreams.

The best storytellers accomplish this through a carefully calculated mix of tension & release—one of the reasons the scariest movies are sometimes really funny, too. A good director will let you down with a laugh—gain your trust, give you a moment of respite—the better to ratchet the tension to the next level.

The mood and premise of The Sixth Sense scared me; I'm always a sucker for a good kid-in-danger tale. In another thread, I mentioned The Innocents (1961) and The Haunting (1963) as two fine examples of this elusive craft.

Last edited by John Sandel; May 11th, 2005 at 08:01 PM.
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Old May 11th, 2005, 07:55 PM   #9
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I can admit; as an adult when watching The 6th Sense there were moments that were freaky and scary to me; the littel girl when he is under the 'tent', and the hanging bodies in the school was freaky in the context they showed it.
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Old May 11th, 2005, 08:21 PM   #10
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Funny that you should bring up "Sixth Sense" in the same vein as "Psycho" because from a dramatic standpoint, they utilized the same device to shock the viewer.

In Hollywood narratives, in the first few minutes of the film, we normally meet the protagonist (or antagonist). We tend to identify with that character, and the journey they take through the story. We let them carry our psyche through the journey's ups and downs, and so we vicariously get to live the moments ourselves.

When Hitchcock KILLED the main character... it was a complete shock to the audience's system... we are left with ONLY ONE place to invest our psyche - in the mind of the Psychotic killer.

Sixth Sense worked the same device for its 'twist'. Most adults identified with Bruce Willis character. When it's revealed that he's dead... the shock to the psche is much the same.

Good storytelling... priceless.
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Old May 11th, 2005, 08:49 PM   #11
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Good call, Richard! You're right. Anything to jar the audience off their rhythm, so you can mess with 'em.

A problem with these tales is they're like dirty jokes—they only work once. After that, there has to be great craft in the build-up, if repeated viewings are to entertain.

Hitchcock's rigor in constructing Psycho is now the stuff of fable. One of the big reasons I love genuinely scary—psychologically scary—movies is the level of craft they require if they're to work. It's another quality these stories share with comedy, which is legendarily "harder" than straight drama.

Contrary example: Kubrick's Shining never got under my skin, despite his high polish—or maybe because of it. It's more funny than scary.

The Charles Laughton version of Island of Lost Souls has some really disturbing stuff in it.
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Old May 11th, 2005, 09:20 PM   #12
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For me, in Psycho I was most shocked when the character Sam is offed. The fashion in which Bates comes from seemingly no where and attcks him. To this day; I love the lack of build up on that scene and the shock.
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Old May 11th, 2005, 09:56 PM   #13
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Wasn't Sam the love interest—the guy who "unmasked" Norman? Are you thinking of Arbogast, the PI who got sliced up as he fell down the stairs?
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Old May 11th, 2005, 11:25 PM   #14
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I am not sure; I must have the names confused? Thanks for the correction!
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