The first time I saw this in the 90s I was expecting to be scared. Then I wasn’t the least bit impressed and thought, how was that even a horror movie? I think it’s hard to see it as such compared to the things we see today. I mean, the 9 o’clock news is scarier than this. Still, for it’s time it was very thrilling and scary. Nothing like this was coming out, really, and the attempts by B-horror movies wasn’t anything more than it is today: full of cheap jump scares and bad plotlines. Instead it’s a slow burn, showing every step a woman takes after making a poor judgment call. Then, something happens that I don’t think I’d be spoiling anything to say here. I feel most people know of the shower scene about halfway into the movie, even if they haven’t seen it before. After this scene, the movie makes a dramatic shift, and leads to its conclusion which I feel most people also know that one too, whether or not they’ve seen it.
I guess that’s funny that so many know the important plot points since Alfred Hitchcock ordered all theaters to lock their doors when the movie started, nobody in or out, just so everyone would see the movie from beginning to end and his trailers were famously vague about the details of this movie and would only show snippets so small you didn’t know what was going on.
Alfred Hitchcock shows a more realistic monster on screen than had ever been seen before. Other movies have shown realistic monsters previously though none were more famous than Norman Bates. He showed us that true monsters exist in the real world and they could be lurking around every corner. I guess that’s what made this movie so scary at the time, though, like I said, I get that every night when I turn on the news.
Why it’s on the list: Outside of the “monsters are real” thing I just said, this movie was a return to form for Hitchcock. Done entirely in Black and White during a time when everything was in color (except B-movies of course), and using basically no-name actors when Hitchcock was only directing superstars. This movie had a lot working against it but the effects on the genre and filmmaking this movie has made are still present today.