Where would we be without ‘Psycho’? Fifty years on and Hitch’s delicious cod-Freudian nightmare about a platinum-blonde embezzler (Janet Leigh) who neglected to consult a guide before selecting her motel still has much to answer for. It blazed a bloody trail for the much-loved slasher cycle, but it also assured us that a B-movie could be A-grade in quality and innovation. It dared to suggest that your star didn’t need to surface from an ordeal smelling of roses (or, indeed, at all). It combined a knife, a scream, a melon, some chocolate sauce,
Bernard Herrmann’s greatest score and more than 70 edits to push the envelope of screen violence. It lent ‘The Simpsons’ some of its best gags: (Seymour Skinner: ‘Oh there’s Mother now, watching me. What’s that, Mother? That sailor suit doesn’t fit any more!’). It offers perfect case studies of suspense, paranoia and montage for lazy film-studies tutors. And, of course, it was the first movie to show a toilet flushing, so we might also credit it with spawning the entire gross-out genre. ‘Psycho’: we salute you.