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17 Mar 2014

SLASHER FILM RULES - Psycho


"We all go a little mad sometimes." ~ Norman Bates.




Psycho, Hitchcock's 1960 classic, with cinema's most famous shower scene, and referenced time and again by the makers of slasher films.  But does it, itself, follow the rules?



The following may include spoilers for
Psycho (1960)


Rule #1 - A Warning Will Come From...
No real warning.  Unless you count the creepiness of the hobby taxidermy.
Rule #2 - There Will Be T&A
Marion Crane appears in just a bra and is nude in the shower, however, as the Hayes Code was still in effect, nudity was suggested, not shown.

Rule #3 - Death Will Be A Punishment For...

Norman's "Mother" kills Marion because of the erotic thoughts that women cause men to have.
A:  SEX - Before the film started Marion was having sex in a hotel room with Sam Loomis during her lunch break.  Marion is killed, Sam survives.  Prior to the film, Norman poisons his mother and her lover for having sex. [1/2] B:  NUDITY - Marion spends some time in just a bra, and of course, gets naked for the shower scene.  [1/1] F:  OTHER CRIMINAL BEHAVIOUR - The MacGuffin of the film is Marion's theft of $40,000 from work (although she had already decided to return the money when she was killed.)  [1/1]
H:  BYSTANDER - Milton Arbogast was annoying but not enough to kill.

Rule #4 - Never Go...

A:  DOWN TO THE BASEMENT - Lila went down to the basement and was trapped by Norman.  Fortunately Sam saved her.
B:  UPSTAIRS - Did not cause any issues.
C:  FOR A SHOWER - Marion in famously killed in the shower.
F:  ANYWHERE ALONE - Lila goes into the Bates house alone while Sam distracts Norman.  Norman knocks Sam out and returns to the house, placing Lila in danger.
G:  ANYWHERE REMOTE/ISOLATED - Bate's Motel is isolated (15 miles from Fairvale ot a road bypassed by the highway)..
Rule #5 - Order of Death...
A:  THE FIRST PERSON ON SCREEN - Sam's body appears on screen momentarily before Marion does, but we see all of her first.
B:  THE BLACK MAN DIES FIRST - No minority characters appear in the film.
D:  THE BIMBO - Marion counts.  What with the pre-marital sex and all.
F:  MACHO JERK - Sam sort of starts like this.
G:  THE PROTECTOR - Sam or Milton.
H:  THE SENSITIVE GUY - Sam ends up like this.
J:  THE FINAL GIRL - Lila survives.
Order of Death
1.  Marion Crane.  [A-ish & D]
2.  Milton Arbogast.  [G]
Lila [J] & Sam [F or G or H].

Rule #6 - Especially When They Are Most Needed, The Following Things Cannot Be Relied On…

Everything seemed pretty reliable.

Rule #7 - The Final Girl

Lila Crane is the Final Girl. A:  FINAL - Yes, with Sam.
B:  GIRL - Yes.
C:  MASCULINE - Not really.  Not built like the "not exactly boyish" Marion, her sister, but still feminine.
D:  WELL DRAWN - Her and her sister are well-drawn.  Lila does show curiosity and determination, though.
E:  VIRGINAL & INNOCENT - Lila in not shown drinking or being all about the drug taking.  When Marion suggests that they are more open about their relationship and invites Sam him to her house for dinner with her sister, Sam remarks that they'd have to send her to the pictures afterwards, suggesting that she wouldn't approve of them having sex, leading to the assumption of her own innocence.
F:  WILL BE REBORN - A little, yeah.

Rule #8 - The Killer has a connection to...

Norman Bates' "mother" is the killer.
A:  LOCATION - Norman and his mother are the Bates in "Bates' Motel".
D:  OTHER VICTIMS - Norman's first victims (although not during the film) were his mother and her lover. E:  FEMININITY - Norman killed while dressed as his own dead mother is a little bit feminising.
F:  SPECIFIC LOOK - Norma's mother looks like a normal old lady.
G:  SPECIFIC WEAPON - Kills twice with a kitchen knife.

Rule #9 - Evil Never Dies...

A:  ALWAYS KILL THE BAD GUY TWICE - Didn't happen.
B:  THE BAD GUY LIVES ON - Well, Norman lives and "his mother" lives on in his mind.
C:  EVIL IS IMMORTAL - Of course, the "killer," Norman's mother is dead.

Rule #10 - The Sequel Will Be Bigger/More Formulaic

For better or worse this is the first film in a series of films, and had a failed pilot, a TV series prequel spin-off and a remake.  For future reference the following should be noted:
A:  THEY WILL FOLLOW THE RULES MORE - As the first film in a series, no real series formula exists to follow or break.
B:  THEY WILL BE MORE FORMULAIC - As the first film in a series, no real series formula exists to follow or break.
C:  THERE WILL BE MORE T&A - As noted above, there was limited nudity.
D:  MORE AND BIGGER DEATHS - There were 2 murders by Norman in the film (and probably at least 4 previously - his mother, her lover and two missing young women.)
Results The following rules were followed: 2; 3b; 3f; 4c; 4g; 5d; 5j; 7; 8; 9b; 9c. The following rules were partially followed: 3a; 4a; 4f; 5a; 5g. The following rules did not apply: 3c; 3d; 3e; 3g; 4d; 4e; 5b; 5c; 5e; 5i; 10. The following rules were not followed: 1; 3h; 4b; 5f; 5h; 6; 9a.
~ DUG.

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