Psycho: A Madman's Greatest Movie

By: Staff Writer
Image: tmdb

About This Quiz

We often refer to crazy people as "psychos," but this word more specifically refers to people who lack empathy. Enter the psychopathic character in Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho," which plumbed the depths of a warped human mind capable of the worst kind of behavior. How much do you know about this masterpiece of horror filmmaking?

In what year was the original "Psycho" movie released?

"Psycho" was released in 1960. A (poorly received) remake directed by Gus Van Sant was released in 1998.

The movie's storyline is based on what?

The movie's storyline comes from a novel of the same name written by Robert Bloch. Bloch wrote more than 30 novels during his lifetime.

What was the name of the character played by Janet Leigh?

Leigh was Marion Crane, a woman who decides to steal a pile of cash from her employer. She hits the road to escape and then winds up at a creepy little roadside motel.

Alfred Hitchcock directed the film. At which point of Hitchcock's career was "Psycho" released?

Hitchcock had already been making films for decades before he made "Psycho." This film was a tremendously successful way for the famed director to cap off his stellar career.

What's the name of the weird guy who greets Marion at the motel?

Norman Bates, played by Anthony Perkins, has piercing eyes and stranger mannerisms. As it turns out, his social awkwardness disguises much deeper psychological problems.

Which actor did NOT appear in the film?

Hopkins has been in some scary movies, but not "Psycho," which featured the likes of Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh and John Gavin, among others.

Why does Marion decide to stop at the Bates Motel?

A heavy rainstorm obscures the highway, and Marion is too tired to continue driving. She pulls into the Bates Motel parking lot, an act that seals her fate.

Where does the movie's most famous scene take place?

Some scenes are so famous that they become a part of our society's cultural consciousness. The famous shower scene is one of the most suspenseful moments in Hollywood history.

How does Norman kill Marion while she's in the shower?

As Norman stalks Marion in the shower, the audience sees his knife-wielding silhouette on the shower curtain. Bates then proceeds to stab Marion to death.

When Norman snaps back to semi-reality, he doesn't understand that he killed Marion. Who does Norman believe committed the murder?

Norman has psychological problems that allow him to commit heinous acts thinking that he's not responsible. He believes that "Mother" killed Marion and that he's been left to clean up the mess.

Norman had previously killed his mother. Who else did he kill at the same time?

Consumed by jealousy, Norman killed both his mother and her boyfriend. Later, he digs up his mother's corpse and begins treating it as if his mother was still alive -- you know, pretty normal behavior for a middle-aged man.

What does Norman do with Marion's lifeless body?

Norman gathers all evidence of Marion's stay (along with her body) and stuffs it into her vehicle. Then he rolls the car into a nearby swamp in hopes of concealing the crime.

How many Academy Award nominations did the film receive?

The edgy material didn't dissuade Hollywood from embracing this film. "Psycho" received four Oscar nominations.

Which of the following was NOT one of the film's Academy Award nominations?

"Psycho" was not nominated for Best Picture. It was nominated for Best Director, Best Supporting Actress, Best Cinematography, Black-and-White and Best Art Direction, Black-and-White.

Of its four Oscar nominations, how many did the film actually win?

As it turned out, the nominations didn't go anywhere. "Psycho" didn't win any Oscar awards.

How long is the famous shower scene?

The three-minute scene uses dozens of (often disorienting) camera angles meant to jar the audience. By the end of the scene, many viewers were probably scarred for life.

Why does a private investigator show up at the Bates Motel?

The investigator is hired by Marion's family and tasked with finding her. Instead, the man stumbles into a much creepier (and deadlier) situation.

Where was the Bates Motel?

The movie was shot on a set built in Hollywood. There's no actual Bates Motel -- it was constructed right on the property of Universal Studios.

The novel (and thus, the movie) was inspired by which serial killer?

Ed Gein was a particularly odd serial killer who committed his crimes in 1950s Wisconsin. He took to digging up bodies and use the parts to make various creations. Eventually, he murdered two women.

The movie is more violent than the novel.

There were some notable changes as the book was adapted to the screenplay. The book was much more violent. And in the novel, Norman has a drinking problem -- in the movie, he's a sober but twisted individual.

How much money did Marion steal from her employer?

Marion stole $40,000, which would be more than $320,000 in today's money. The small fortune triggers quick, violent karma.

Why did Alfred Hitchcock decide to shoot the movie using black-and-white film?

Paramount refused to fund the movie due to its strange and violent content, meaning that Hitchcock had to support the budget with his own production organization. The limited budget pushed him into using cheaper black-and-white film.

What was the status of Janet Leigh's Hollywood career before she took the role in "Psycho"?

Both Leigh and Hopkins were Hollywood stars when Hitchcock asked them to take part in the movie. Leigh was so enthused to work on the project that she agreed to do the job for a fraction of her usual salary.

"Psycho" was Hitchock's most financially successful film.

The film received very mixed reviews from critics, but it resonated with audiences around the world. It made roughly $50 million at the box office and became Hitchcock's most profitable movie.

What was the movie's approximate budget?

This was a low-budget venture, even for 1960 -- it was made for less than $1 million. It earned that amount back (and much more) in just a few days at theaters.

By the end of the movie, we learn that Norman has killed how many people?

Norman turns out to be a fairly prolific murderer. He killed his mother and her boyfriend, Marion (and two other single women), as well as the private detective who comes along looking for Marion.

Why did Hitchcock reportedly try to buy every copy of Bloch's book before the movie hit theaters?

Hitchcock supposedly wanted his masterpiece film to be a complete surprise. He reportedly bought many copies of the book to preserve its surprise twists.

At which point in the movie does Hitchcock make a cameo appearance?

At this point of his career, Hitchcock was well-known for making brief appearances in his films. He opted to appear very briefly at the beginning of the movie so that audiences could spot him…and then turn their attention to the horrific story unfolding on the screen.

Following her role in the movie, what did Janet Leigh attempt to avoid for the remainder of her life?

Leigh's role in the movie apparently had a deep effect on her mind. She was freaked out by showers and reportedly tried to avoid them once shooting was completed.

What orders did Hitchcock give to theaters before releasing the film?

Hitchcock felt the movie's suspense was best absorbed in total from beginning to end -- no one was allowed into the theater once the movie started.

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