#17: NORMAN BATES
Norman Bates may not have a chainsaw, hockey-mask, or razor clawed gloves, but when he appeared in the 1960 Alfred Hitchcock classic, Psycho, the foundation was laid for movie maniacs to become the endearing part of horror movies for more than 40 years to follow.
Robert Mitchum's evil preacher character from Night of the Hunter came out 5 years before, but he was a twisted evil creep that you expected to be killed at the end. Anthony Perkins played Bates with such a bizarre sexual nutzo chillingness that you didn't know what to expect.
Bates was in the ultimate dysfunctional relationship with his mother, who's corpse he kept dressed. Was she really talking to him, telling him to kill? Or was he just, as the title suggests, a Psycho?
Audiences were shocked to see Janet Leigh killed early in the film in a shower scene that's easily the most recognizable cinematic murder of all time. From the screams, to the insane string music , to the swirl of blood going down the drain, it was something audiences had never seen. That sort of stuff always happened off screen in the past.
The slasher film was born.
Do yourself a favor and ignore the Psycho sequels, but surprisingly, the Gus Van Sant directed remake starring Vince Vaughn is pretty damn good, and definitely worth a look.
Alfred Hitchcock bought the rights to the Bloch novel for only $9,000, and bought up as many copies of the book as he could to keep the ending a secret. This was obviously before Harry Knowles was born.
During the shower scene, a sound effect of a knife stabbing a casaba melon was used.
Long before the Exorcist, Psycho experimented with single frame subliminal scenes, as a split second picture of a skull replaces Bates face in a final scene.
Hitchcock deliberately filmed in black and white, as he thought it would be too gory in color.