Origins and Sources of inspiration for the movie Psycho
1. Fictional Resources and Origins of the movie Psycho
Alfred Hitchock director and producer of the movie Psycho, used to base his film projects on literature and he used to buy film rights of short stories and books. Psycho is based on the novel Psycho (1959) of Robert Bloch.
Robert Bloch was captivated by the idea that killings and similar horrors continuing unnoticed in a small town by a serial killer. Robert Bloch had written an earlier short story about a split personality “The Real Bad Friend”. Robert Bloch was inspired by the true crime story of Edward Theodore Gein.
Edward Theodore Gein (1906 - 1984) - known also with the nicknames “The Plainfield Ghoul” - “The mad butcher”, was a killer, a body snatcher and a grave ripper. He committed an unknown number of murders around his hometown of Plainfield, Wisconsin. The case of Ed. Gein gathered a widespread publicity when crime investigators discovered that Edward Theodore Gein had disinterred corpses from local graveyards and collected trophies and created keepsakes from human bones and skins.
In the beginning, local police found body parts in his house in 1957. Edward Theodore Gein confessed the murders of two women - Mary Hogan and Bernice Worden. The headless body of Bernice Worden was found in Gein’s shed. The heads of Bernice Worden and Mary Hogan were found at the Gein’s house.
Finally, the case of Ed. Gein was the source of inspiration of several fictional villains among them as I have already mentioned was Norman Bates from Psycho, the leather - face from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and for a large number of film critics the James Gumb (Buffalo Bill) from the Silence of the Lambs.
2. Cinema / Film resources and origins of the movie Psycho
Before I start writing about the Cinema / Film origins of Psycho I need to highlight the film industry environment during the period of Psycho development (from an idea to pre - production stage) and the stage of Alfred Hitchcock’s career at the same period.
Alfred Hitchcock had completed the film North by Northwest (1959) and the film Vertigo (1958). Unfortunately both films had been panned by critics and public. Alfred Hitchcock wanted to demonstrate his skill and abilities to conquer audience, he wanted to prove that he was able to produce a great movie on a low budget. Afred Hitchcock had realized that there was a demand for something gritter and more adult.
There were also the case of successful similar low budget horror movies. William Castle a master of suspense and a film marketing talent who had conquered audience with Macabre (1958) and the House on Haunted Hill (1959). There was also European Influence and especially from France where Henri-Georges Clouzot whose masterpiece Diaboliques / Les Diaboliques (1955) was a source of inspiration and profoundly also influential not only for Alfred Hitchcock but for William Castle too.
According to Horror Films, there are many similarities between Psycho and Diaboliques / Les Diaboliques , among them :
A. Both films are shot in black and white
B. Both films share a solif mileu of dead - end jobs and rented rooms
C. Both films have the principal shock in both films occur in bathrooms
D. Both films have a second act in which a grubby detective harasses the lead character
E. Both films have twist endings.
Also Alfred Hitchcock use similar marketing techniques - like Clouzot. I can mention that like French newsaper ads had discourages viewers from missing the beginning of Diaboliques and the cinema doors were closed at the start of each screening. Same techniques were emulated for Psycho distribution in U.S.A.
3. Painting resources and origins of the movie Psycho
The Production Design (production designers in Psycho were Joseph Hurley and Robert Clatworthy) developed the look of the Bates Motel and the Gothic Dark house behind it. According to Alfred Hitchcock the architectural style of the Gothic House was influenced by Edward Hopper’s painting “House by the Railroad”. The arcjtectural style has been known also as “California Gothic” a common style in Northern California. There is also another point of view about to which, the Dark Gothic house bears a passing resemblance to the Addams Family property from Charle’s Addams New Yorker cartoon.
4. Real Live resources and origins of the movie Psycho
The cinmatic look of Phoenix and the route to Fairvale were meticulously researched with scouts reporting to Alfred Hitchcock about exactly what people wore and looked.
This strategy was reflected in Leigh’s clothes and hair style in the movie Psycho (Leigh’s dresses were bought from local shops and she was required to do her hair by herself) as the fictional character would have done.