We’re all wanting 2020 to end quickly for obvious reasons, but it doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate milestones. Sixty years ago, on September 8th, Alfred Hitchcock released what is considered not only his greatest film, but one of the best films ever made in cinema. Psycho was an intense suspenseful thriller loaded with great performances, heavy symbolism, and shocking twists. The film would give birth to the slasher genre in horror. Not only that, but the film spawned three sequels, a remake and a spin off television series. Psycho continues to be cited by many film critics and historians as an absolute masterpiece.
To celebrate its sixty-year milestone, Universal has released Psycho in an all new “60th Anniversary Edition” in various home formats including 4K Ultra HD and Blu-Ray. For this review, I’ll be going through the Blu-Ray edition since I don’t own a 4K Television. The Blu-Ray edition features the original cut in 1080p as well as a never before released “Uncut” edition as Hitchcock originally intended to present. In addition, there are loads of Bonus Features including The Making of Psycho documentary, In the Master’s Shadow: Hitchcock’s Legacy, Hitchcock/Truffaut (Francois) Interview Excepts, Newsreel Footage: The Release of Psycho, The Shower Scene: With and Without Music and The Shower Sequence: Storyboards by Saul Bass Feature Commentary with Hitchcock author Stephen Rebello.
Let us start with the Original Version of Psycho. The 1080p transition looks great on any HD television. The camera movements are slick and smooth. There is a great balance of lighting even though the film is in black and white. The lighting reflects the mood of the scene that is playing out on screen. It works great with the night scenes especially the scene with Anthony Perkins when he looks around in his parlor before removing the picture with the peep hole to the first cabin in the motel. The darkness that shades his shifting eyes gave me that tense creepy feeling I remember having when I first watch the movie in my college’s Film Studies course. Bernard Hermmann’s score which heightens the emotion of the storyline is remastered thanks to the English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 which if you have a surround sound will engulf your ears as the strings send shivers down your spine. The Original Version of Psycho has never been presented in the best format possible and Universal put in a lot of effort to give this classic the treatment it deserves for the complete home movie experience.
As for the new Uncut Version of Psycho, I watched it thoroughly attempting to spot the differences between this and the Original Version. Without going into spoilers, all I will say is that the Uncut Version does not add to the story or the plot. Rather, there are three scenes that are extended for this version. These extended scenes were trimmed down by Hitchcock at the behest of the MPAA. Unless you’re great at spotting attention to detail you’re going to watch right through the scenes and ask yourself, “What’s the difference between this and the Original Version?” If you were expecting to see a new inserted scene into Psycho, you’ll be disappointed. The Uncut Version is presented in the same remastering format as the Original Cut including those extended scenes.
As mentioned above, the Psycho 60th Anniversary Edition features a ton of Bonus Content to help expand your cranium on the movie including the behind the scenes, the initial reaction when it was released in 1960 and its cultural impact. The Making of Psycho documentary is the same one that was aired in 1997, so if you have never seen it prior to now, you’re in for a real treat. The documentary features interviews with numerous members of the cast and crew including Janet Leigh and Patricia Hitchcock. This documentary is presented in chronological order from the initial conception to pre-production to shooting, editing, release and final reaction. The second documentary in the Bonus Features looks at all of Hitchcock’s movies and his impact on modern day movie making. In The Master’s Shadow: Hitchcock’s Legacy includes clips from all his films with commentary from some of the best filmmakers in the business including John Carpenter, Martin Scorsese, Guillermo Del Toro and William Fredkin, just to name a few. When watching this documentary, you will see how Hitchcock’s camerawork, his approach to storytelling and everything else in between has inspired these filmmakers. Other notable Bonus Features are the Newsreel Footage of the release of Psycho along with the marketing campaign and includes a promotion narration from Hitchcock explaining why he’s informing the public to watch the film from start to end and not to give away the ending. Hitchcock knew his audience and his message was taken like a church sermon. The iconic shower scene can be watched with or without sound if you so desire and the storyboards of the film are neat to watch especially for all you inspiring filmmakers out there who want to get a look at how storyboards are made and presented.
Overall, the Psycho 60th Anniversary Edition is a love of legacy. This movie is a generational movie that will continue to live on until the end of time. This is the best home release of Alfred Hitchcock’s cinematic classic that you will find. If you’re lucky to have a 4K television then you should get the 4K Version, but if you don’t, the Blu-Ray version is well worth the money. There is so much content with two version of the films and the Bonus Content that you’ll feel like you’re ready to earn your PhD in Psycho History.
- Great resolution of the film including a remastered soundtrack
- Loads of Bonus Features to make you a Psycho film scholar
- Uncut Version does not add anything new or groundbreaking to the Original.