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(Credit: Dr. Macro)

Film

Alfred Hitchcock’s interesting rules for watching ‘Psycho’

Alfred Hitchcock directed many masterpieces throughout his life but none of them surpassed the cultural impact of Psycho. Dubbed the ‘Master of Suspense’, many of Hitchcock’s creations are regularly cited among the greatest films of all time because of his contributions towards creating a visual language of cinematic horror and mystery.

Often regarded as Hitchcock’s magnum opus, Psycho created a specific framework within which many contemporary horror films continue to operate. Hitchcock’s 1960 psychological mystery revolves around a secretary who hides out in a strange motel after stealing a lot of money only to meet her untimely and tragic demise.

Anthony Perkins’ performance as Norman Bates is just as scary even after all these years. Playing the role of an introverted motel proprietor, Perkins explores the dark recesses of the career as he oscillates between shy contemplation and homicidal rage while navigating the conflicts caused by his own schizophrenic delusions.

While initial reviews of the film were mixed, there are few movies as famous as Psycho now. Hitchcock always took pride in his ability to manipulate the emotions of the audience which is always essential for any good horror film experience. However, for Psycho, the legendary director set some ground rules which the theatres had to follow.

Outside the box offices of the theatres, Hitchcock placed signs that explained the rules to audiences. A recording of Hitchcock’s voice also played: “The manager of this theatre has been instructed, at the risk of his life, not to admit to the theatre any persons after the picture starts. Any spurious attempts to enter by side doors, fire escapes, or ventilating shafts will be met by force.”

Continuing, “I have been told this is the first time such remarkable measures have been necessary… but then this is the first time they’ve ever seen a picture like Psycho.” Of course, it is only natural that a filmmaker would want their audience to treat their films as one uninterrupted session but Hitchcock claimed it was absolutely essential for Psycho.

On the signs that were placed outside the theatre, Hitchcock warned audiences that nobody would be allowed to enter the theatre after the film started because that would be detracting from the experience. According to those signs, even the most important political figures in the world would not be excused from Hitchcock’s special rules.

It read: “WE WON’T ALLOW YOU to cheat yourself! You must see PSYCHO from beginning to end to enjoy it fully. Therefore, do not expect to be admitted into the theatre after the start of each performance of the picture. We say no one – and we mean no one – not even the manager’s brother, the President of the United States, or the Queen of England (God bless her)”.

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