Psycho: Ten Things You Didn’t Know


Psycho: Ten Things You Didn’t Know

Alfred Hitchcock’s magnum opus film, ‘Psycho’ is returning to cinemas from 27th May. This stunning 4K restoration of the original theatrical cut includes an extra 13 seconds of restored footage – so it can once again be seen as it was originally shown in cinemas back in 1960, exactly as intended by Hitchcock.

To celebrate, here are ten things you probably didn’t know about Psycho:

  1. MELON-TERROR! What did Alfred Hitchcock use to create an authentically terrifying stabbing sound? A melon. Specifically, a casaba melon. Hitchcock and his sound guy are said to have tested all kinds of melons before settling on the casaba – its thick skin gives a denser sound than other varieties. This, combined with a slab of steak, proved the perfect combination.
  1. BODY DOUBLE: in the iconic shower scene, Playboy cover girl Marli Renfro had the uncredited role of Janet Leigh’s body double – and it is her hand that we see desperately clutching the shower curtain in the scene’s chilling climatic moments. Renfro had previously posed for a range of men’s magazines, including the cover of the September 1960 edition of Playboy, and worked as a Playboy Bunny. She later appeared in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1962 film Tonight For Sure – her only credited acting role. 
  1. PSYCHO IN PINK: the fictional Bates family home was based on an artwork from 1925, House By The Railroad by American realist painter Edward Hopper. Built on the Universal Studios lot in Universal City, California, it’s been through a number of alterations, and has even completely moved location twice since construction. As well as featuring in Psycho and the 1983 and 1986 sequels, the so-called “Pyscho House” has appeared in other films and television shows, including Angela Lansbury’s amateur sleuth drama Murder, She Wrote and the 1981 Chevy Chase comedy Modern Problems (for which it was painted pink!)
  1. SONIC PSYCHO: The jarringly scary intro music, Bernard Herrmann’s “Prelude (Psycho Theme)”, has been sampled by a range of hip-hop and electronic artists including Busta Rhymes (Gimme Some More), Basement Jaxx (Smoke Bubbles), and Girl Talk (Bodies Hit The Floor).
  1. TOILET TRAILBLAZER: Psycho was the first American film (potentially the first fictional film) to show a flushing toilet on screen. The screenwriter, Joseph Stefano, wanted to show a toilet flushing to add to the realism of the film, so he wrote a scene in which the toilet was crucial to the developing plot. 
  1. BUSINESS SAVVY: Hitchcock reportedly bought the rights to Robert Bloch’s novel ‘Psycho’ for $9000. He subsequently bought as many copies of the book as he possibly could, to ensure that the ending of the story remained a mystery for as many people as possible, encouraging people to see his film at the cinema. 
  1. HYDRO-PHOBIA: Seeing her likeness dead on screen (even if it was a body double) had such a profound impact on Janet Leigh, that to the end of her life, she only took baths. 
  1. WIG WEARER: Vera Miles wore a wig for her role as Lila Crane, because she had to shave her head for her role in ‘5 Branded Women’, which also came out in 1960.
  1. THROUGH NORMAN’S EYES: In order to give viewers the sense that they are, along with Norman Bates, voyeurs, Hitchcock used a 50mm lens on a 35mm camera. This aimed to accurately reflect the perception of human vision and give the audience a true sense of Norman’s perspective. 
  1. SHRIEKING VIOLINS: The film’s composer, Bernard Herrmann, achieved the shrieking sound in the shower scene by having a group of violinists saw the same high-pitched note repeatedly. The name that Herrmann called this section of music? ‘A return to pure ice water.’

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Alton loves film. He is founder and Editor In Chief of BRWC.  Some of the films he loves are Rear Window, Superman 2, The Man With The Two Brains, Clockwise, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Trading Places, Stir Crazy and Punch-Drunk Love.