Psychological Themes In Alfred Hitchcock's Horror Film Psycho

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Psycho (1960)
Alfred Hitchcocks powerful and complex psychological thriller, horror film “Psycho” (1960) was classes as the first sub genre of horror, the slasher. The film ushered in the era of slashes with graphic content of blood-letting and shocking killings of the time. Although this was Hitchcock’s first horror film, he was labelled as a horror film director ever since. The film contains disturbing themes of corruptibility, confused identities, voyeurism, human vulnerabilities and victimisation. These themes symbolise the effects of money, oedipal murder and the dark histories. These were explored by the use of the motifs of birds, eyes, hands and mirrors (Filmsite.org, n.d.).

Hitchcock skilfully guides the audiences through a tale
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However, film critic, Robin Wood, argues that ‘since Psycho, the Hollywood cinema has implicitly recognised horror as both American and familial’ he then goes on to connect this with Psycho by claiming that it is an “innovative and influential film because it supposedly presents its horror not as the produce of forces outside American society, bit a product of the patriarchal family which is the fundamental institution of American society” he goes on to discuss how our civilisation either represses or oppresses (Skal, 1994). Woods claim then suggests that in Psycho, it is the repressions and tensions within the normal American family which produces the monster, not some alien force which was seen and suggested throughout the 1950 horror films.

At the beginning of the 60’s, feminisation was regarded as castration not humanization. In “Psycho” (1960) it is claimed that the film presents conservative “moral lessons about gender roles of that the strong male is healthy and normal and the sensitive male is a disturbed figure who suffers from gener confusion” (Skal, 1994). In this section of this chapter I will look closely at how “Psycho” (1960) has layers of non-hetro-conforming and gender-non conforming themes through the use of Norman Bates whose gender identitiy is portrayed as being somewhere between male and female
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