Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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November 26, 2012

After 'Psycho,' a shower of violence in movies

(Continued)

In the famous interviews with French director Francois Truffaut, Hitchcock said he was most interested in "all the technical ingredients that made the audience scream" and hoped that "Psycho" would be "a film that belongs to filmmakers." That's certainly been true, as "Psycho" has inspired perhaps the most obsessive ode in Hollywood history, the near frame-by-frame 1998 remake by Gus Van Sant.

In the every-decade polling done by film magazine Sight & Sound, Hitchcock's "Vertigo" (released two years before "Psycho" to largely negative reviews) earlier this year displaced Orson Welles' "Citizen Kane" as the best film of all time, according to voting critics. Among the directors who have voted for "Psycho" in past Sight & Sound polls is the Australian filmmaker Michael Haneke, maybe the only living director who — as proven by his upcoming film "Amour" — shares both Hitchcock's skillfulness and his attention to audience manipulation through violence.

Also among filmmakers who have voted for "Psycho" is Errol Morris who, years after seeing it, pursued an interview with the real-life inspiration for Anthony Perkins' character, the serial killer Ed Gein, at the Central State Hospital for the Criminally Insane in Wisconsin.

Morris was then a graduate student at U.C. Berkley, but the extensive interviews he did with Gein (he believes the only ever done) helped set Morris on the path that would be his life's work — films that might in some way be summarized by a scene in "Psycho" that deeply affected Morris. Near the end of the film, a psychiatrist offers a pat, insufficient explanation of Gein's psychosis, which Pauline Kael called "arguably Hitchcock's worst scene."

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