Monday, June 18, 2007

An interesting take on Psycho

Ed here: As a writer, I'm always looking at the way various books and movies are structured, mainly because I need the help. I look at novels such as The Red Right Hand in genuine awe. How the hell did he ever figure out how to do that? Same with the novel Psycho. I'd been reading and enjoying Bob Bloch since 1953. He'd even written for my fanzines and I'd talked to him on the phone a few times. I still remember getting the hardcover novel Psycho from the library. Quantam leap. Unlike anything Bob had ever done before (though there'd been hints of it in stories such as in the stunning "Enoch"). Not that you'd know how important his book was from Bob. One of the true great and modest gentlemen of my time on the planet. I'm running this sample fom the free encyclopedia tonight. I stumbled across it yesterday. If you want to see the whole thing, the e address is at the bottom.

Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho Opens in New York (1960)
The release of Psycho is often seen as a turning point in film history, representing the shift from Classical to the more experimental "Post-Classical" film. It was a groundbreaking film in its depiction of sex and graphic violence, and its exploration of mental illness was unprecedented. The film's "shower scene" has taken on iconic status as one of the most terrifying scenes ever filmed. Who wrote the novel on which the film is based? More...

Psycho is a 1959 novel by Robert Bloch.
Plot summary
The story is divided (below, but not in the actual book) into several sections, by the character whose point of view is mostly followed in that chapter.
Mary (chapters 1-4)

The novel begins when one of the main characters, Mary Crane, embezzles $40,000 from her employer and leaves town so she can marry her boyfriend, Sam Loomis. On the way to Loomis' house, she is forced to stop at the dilapidated Bates Motel, on the side of the highway. The owner is Norman Bates, middle-aged alcoholic whose pastime is taxidermy. He is attracted to her, and offers to have her up to the house for dinner. Mary gives him a fake name when she signs the registry.

Bates and Mary make small talk, and he mentions that his mother wasn't happy about him "seeing" Mary. He admits that she became "ill" after his father died and worsened after a man she had been seeing died as well. When Mary suggests that she be "put somewhere", however, Bates bursts out into semihysterics. "A boy's best friend is his mother," he insists.

Afterwards, Mary readies herself for a shower (while Bates watches through a peephole) and decides to give the money back before she ends up like Bates. While she is in the shower, however, an old woman surprises her with a butcher knife, and "cuts off both her scream and her head."
Norman (chapter 5)

Shortly before Mary is killed, Mother rants at Bates for daring to bring a woman into her house, threatening to "kill the bitch." Norman gets drunk in an attempt to drown her out, and slips into unconsciousness. Bates enters Mary's room after he comes to his senses, and, finding her dead, cleans up after Mother. He pushes Mary's car along with her body (and the $40,000, of which he is ignorant) into a nearby swamp. He falls asleep and dreams that Mother is sinking in quicksand, only to turn into him as she screams for help. When he awakes, Mother has returned, and he decides to keep her crime a secret, realizing that she is all he has.

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