Review: Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho

Title: Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho

Author: Stephen Rebello

Genre/Pages: Non-fiction/240*

Publisher: released for Kindle 7/2010 by Open Road; orig. pub. date 1990

Rating: 4 Bookmarks**

Source: Open Road Books via Net Galley

How could I resist a spooky review at end of October? This review’s format is a bit different–my husband, a horror movie aficionado, was eager to give Rebello’s novel a read and promised to do a Q&A-style book review in return.  All of the photos were taken by yours truly on our 2007 visit to Universal Studios in California and were edited using various Halloween effects on Picnik.com.

Fan of all that is fiendish, Anthony, a VIP at Universal Studios. We took the VIP tour specifically so we could get off the tram car and visit the Psycho set.

Nat @ Book, Line, and Sinker: Anthony, Thanks for joining us today to discuss the Kindle release of Stephen Rebello’s Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho.

Anthony: Wow, so official!  Thanks for having me.

Nat: In a sentence or two, tell us about this book.

Ant: I would classify this as the definitive book on the 1960 thriller classic Psycho, and Stephen Rebello’s exhaustive research and first-hand interviews with the cast and crew give it details and authenticity that can’t be matched.  Hitchcock’s movie is actually based on the 1959 novel of the same name by Robert Bloch, who was mentored by H.P. Lovecraft.

Nat: (aside) For those who haven’t seen the movie (or read the original novel), the premise, according to IMDb: A woman steals $40,000 from an employer’s client and subsequently encounters a young motel proprietor too long under his mother’s domination.  The woman, Marion Crane, is played by Janet Lee and Norman Bates is portrayed by Anthony Perkins.

Image from IMDb

Nat: Is Psycho based on a true story?

Ant:  Author Robert Bloch was inspired to write the 1959 novel by real-life events that occurred not too far from where he was living in Wisconsin.  Ed Gein was a convicted murderer and grave robber who became known for his deviant proclivities with corpses, their skin, and bones.  Gein is said to have inspired at least three movie characters–Norman Bates, Leatherface from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Buffalo Bill from The Silence of the Lambs.  Rebello spends a the early chapters of his book detailing Gein and his heinous acts.

Nat: Does Rebello offer up any behind-the-scenes tidbits about the movie or cast?

Ant:  I did learn several new factoids about this movie from the book.  I already knew about Hitchcock’s cameo role and his daughter’s role as Marion Crane’s co-worker, but despite watching the movie many times never realized that before Marion steals the money her undergarments are white and after the theft they are black.  A bit of symbolism, there.  Also, Psycho is the first movie that ever showed a toilet being flushed.  Details like those and many, many others are included in this book.

Nat: You rated this book as a 4-bookmark read but with an asterisk.  What’s that about?

Ant:  While this is a great read, I think it’s written for more of a niche audience.  Readers who love Alfred Hitchcock films, horror movies, or Psycho specifically, will really enjoy this book.  Other readers could take interesting information away from Rebello’s work but might find it a bit too detailed for light reading.

Nat: Before meeting you, I was never one for horror or suspense films.  While I would never say you’ve converted me, I will admit that this movie, while really disturbing, has great cinematography, music, and commanding performances.

Ant:  I agree with you and am so happy we were able to see it on the big screen a few years back.  I really enjoyed this book, the movie, and our interview.  I’m going to throw out a question of my own to your readers:

Have you seen Psycho?  If you haven’t seen it, what are you waiting for?

Nat: Boo!  Hope everyone (who celebrates) has a safe and happy Halloween.  Any holiday that offers up free candy and yummy desserts–caramel apples, popcorn balls–is okay with me.   Special thanks to Open Road for this review copy.


*The 1998 paperback release was 240 pages.

**This book is a 4-bookmark read for fans of the genre.

12 Comments

  • At 2010.10.29 17:13, Dishy said:

    Excellent review! Not sure I could stomach the actual work (or this genre in general) but my husband most certainly would. Thanks for the head-up, Dito!
    Dishy´s last blog post ..Carrots with Indian Spices

    • At 2010.10.29 17:14, Dishy said:

      PS: Have seen Psycho though – but of course!
      Dishy´s last blog post ..Carrots with Indian Spices

      • At 2010.10.29 21:06, Jenners said:

        I saw Psycho, but I don’t think I’d realized she had stolen money. (Duh!)
        And now I’m going to have nightmares about Gein … thanks for that!
        Jenners´s last blog post ..A Dream Come True

        • At 2010.10.30 01:42, Jess - A Book Hoarder said:

          What a great review! I saw the Psycho remake after it was released and am still too chicken to watch the original – even though I really want to. Now I really want to woman up and read this book and then watch the movie. It may take me until next Halloween – at least – to do that but in the mean time I have a friend who is going to love this book when I buy it for her.

          • At 2010.10.30 10:29, Erin said:

            I’m not a horror movie fan (they keep me up at night!), so I’ve never seen Psycho and probably wouldn’t enjoy this book! Very cool, though, that Psycho had the first flushing toilet in it. I do like trivia like that!
            Erin´s last blog post ..My Week in Books- October 24-30

            • At 2010.10.30 23:01, bybee said:

              My son would love this book! Of course, I would wrestle it away from him at the earliest possible chance.

              Go Anthony! Great review.
              bybee´s last blog post ..October 2010- Buying

              • At 2010.10.31 09:19, rhapsodyinbooks said:

                Love the toilet flushing trivia! And I had no idea this movie was based on the Ed Gein story – Great review!

                • At 2010.11.01 00:09, Coffee and a Book Chick said:

                  Great review and pictures!! Nice job to the dynamic duo! 🙂
                  Coffee and a Book Chick´s last blog post ..Book Blogger Hop

                  • At 2010.11.01 14:18, Meg said:

                    How fun — and very creepy! Really enjoyed your interview with Anthony. 🙂 Scary movies have a way of getting so deep under my skin, I have nightmares for days — so “Psycho” isn’t a film I can see myself sitting down to watch! Oddly enough, I enjoy reading about scary movies, though. Satisfies my curiosity without having to actually watch the film.
                    Meg´s last blog post ..It’s hard to be angry in a Halloween costume- but I managed it

                    • At 2010.11.03 16:12, Lisa said:

                      Great interview! This movie isn’t nearly as scary as it was the first time I watched it, but it is still creepy on a level that most movies can’t hope to reach these days. Book sounds like something my hubby would like.
                      Lisa´s last blog post ..Everything Hurts – A Guest Review

                      • At 2010.11.03 23:38, Kathleen said:

                        I would love this book since I love the movie and would be interested in all of the facts/trivia/insider info about the making of the movie!
                        Kathleen´s last blog post ..Film Club- Whatever Happened to Baby Jane

                        • At 2010.11.30 15:17, Coffee and a Book Chick said:

                          Quick thing — I included your site’s review to my blog. I just finished reading Psycho and posted my review this afternoon!
                          Coffee and a Book Chick´s last blog post ..And Then There Were None- by Agatha Christie

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