The 100 best horror films - Psycho
Number 4: Psycho
By Derek Adams, Dave Calhoun, Cath Clarke, Sarah Cohen, Nigel Floyd and Tom Huddleston, with the generous support of everyone at FrightFest and Cine-Excess. Explore the individual top tens of every contributor.
Dir Alfred Hitchcock (Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh)
What would mother think?
Alfred Hitchcock was a restless innovator, and ‘Psycho’ gnawed at the edges of taste and decency by being way ahead of its time: the combination of the film’s independent, criminal and sexually forthright young blonde (Leigh), its slasher scenes and its lone male perpetrator (Perkins), crazed and motivated by a disturbing family background, gave the film a modernity that sets it apart from most of Hitchcock’s films both before and after. ‘Psycho’ deserves a place so high on this list for its influence alone: its legendary shower scene still shocks, but at the time such brutal bloodletting, albeit suggested via the trickery of Hitchcock’s camera and editing and the power of Bernard Herrmann’s score, was groundbreaking and immediately copied. ‘Psycho’ kickstarted a shift in the appetite of mainstream audiences for experiencing the extreme and inspired other filmmakers to exploit gore with less high-minded motivations ever since. DC
What the experts said
‘The most terrifying movie of my adolescence, and the progenitor of the slashers... and a great film masterpiece regardless of genre.’Brian Yuzna
‘The best psychological horror film ever made.’Ruggero Deodato
‘Hitchcock playing devilish games with suspense and irony. I first watched it far too young; I still cannot watch alone at night.’James Watkins