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  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • English: Dolby Digital Mono
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Cast/crew biographies
  • Production notes

Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock's)

Universal/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 104 mins . M . PAL


What need be said about Psycho? It's only one of THE classic horror films! One of the Holy Trinity you need to absorb in order to fully appreciate The Simpsons (the other two being The Planet of the Apes and 2001: A Space Odyssey). It inspired John Carpenter to make the fabulous Halloween in tribute. It's so good that even the recent rather pointless and unsatisfactory remake hasn't destroyed its power.

It's hard to imagine, but some people still don't know the storyline, so I'll skip most of the plot. Marion Crane, a woman involved with a man up to his neck in alimony, impulsively steals $40,000 in cash that she's been entrusted to take to the bank, hoping to clear his debts and marry him.

After being interrogated by a policeman on the long drive to meet her lover, she is racked with guilt and paranoia and decides to return the money. However, she's travelled too far to turn back, and stops at a motel for the night, where she meets Norman Bates, the charming and shy proprietor of the Bates Motel.

Then she meets mother...


The film is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic format on a single-layer disc. While the picture isn't as astonishing as the recently-restored Vertigo, it is pleasing to watch. There are some minor film artefacts, but nothing you wouldn't expect from a film almost 30 years old, and the image is sharp with good contrast and greyscale. Grain is generally unobtrusive and I noticed no digital artifacting. Obviously colour isn't a factor here... :)


Ah, glorious mono, the sign of a classic horror film! The sole audio track is Dolby Digital 1.0, and the soundtrack is as you'd expect for a well-cared-for film of its vintage. There is no noticeable hiss or hum, which leaves you able to enjoy the famous, brilliant Bernard Herrmann score.

Herrmann scored the film for strings only, which is very apparent when the shower music kicks in! Dialogue is clear and intelligible, and the sound is never strident or thin, as often occurs with transfers of older films.


Psycho comes with fairly standard production notes, the wonderful US theatrical trailer (which runs for about 6 1/2 minutes and has Hitchcock hamming it up wonderfully on a guided tour through the Bates Motel and house) and cast/filmmaker notes.

This is the real problem with the R4 disc. The R1 disc contains, in addition to the R4 features, a photo gallery, story boards, a featurette from the 1960s detailing the novel marketing technique Hitchcock used to sell the film, documentaries, additional footage and interviews with the cast and creative team. Of special interest is the presentation of the shower scene with and without the score, showing how much difference the music makes to the scene. The R1 interactive menus are also far more elaborate. Obviously Columbia couldn't make enough dual-layer discs and lowered the priority on a Psycho collector's edition in deference to the latest no-brainer action flick?


A technically fine disc, and one I would happily recommend if it weren't for the fact that the US edition has far more extras - extras which really add to your knowledge of the making of the film, rather than the Matrix-style exposition of special effects (which are cool, but don't actually explain how the film was conceived).

Therefore, if you just want to watch the film, get the R4, but if you love the art of the cinema, you'll want the US collector's edition.

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      And I quote...
    "What need be said about Psycho? It's only one of THE classic horror films!"
    - Paul Dossett
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Rom:
          Pioneer 103(s)
    • MPEG Card:
          RealMagic Hollywood Plus
    • TV:
          Mitsubishi Diva 33
    • Amplifier:
          Yamaha DSP-A1
    • Speakers:
          Richter Excalibur
    • Centre Speaker:
          Richter Unicorn
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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