Psycho

Cabin in the Woods Acker

The Final Girl was a pretty great evolution for horror movies. Instead of endless heaps of screaming ladies falling victim to supernatural and human evils, some would rise above, running out the front door rather than up the stairs, finding a way to fight back rather than just blow the audience’s ear drums with blood-curdling screams. But the Final Girl was just that – a girl. One solitary girl might live so that the evil had someone to fight with in future, franchised battles. The down side to having a Final Girl was that only one would persevere while many more perished – victims who were often just as capable (if not smarter, or at least more charismatic) than the ones who would live. To make the victims into Final Girls might not always make narrative sense – and indeed, can change the entire outcome of a film – but it’s still fun to imagine the alternative, especially on Halloween.

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The Tingler Guarantee

On the centenary of William Castle‘s birth, I’m wondering if there could ever be another cinematic showman like him. The filmmaker is famous for his gimmicks, including the use of props and special viewing devices and vibrating seats to enhance the experience of watching his pictures (see our list of these gimmicks from a few years ago). Movies like The Tingler and House on Haunted Hill and 13 Ghosts were events, mainly for young audiences who loved the interactivity, no matter how cheesy it might be. That’s something of an assumption. I can only really imagine what it was like to go to the movies during Castle’s height of success in the 1960s and what it meant to have another of his frightening features arrive in town. Watching a fictionalized version of him and his work in Joe Dante’s Matinee and hearing stories told in the documentary Spine Tingler! The William Castle Story can only go so far to make us understand the half of it. Movies comparably demanding a theatrical viewing are rare these days. And even while something like Gravity might come along every now and then, the fact is that seeing it on the big screen is better but not entirely necessary to get it. We’ve had to come to realize that we can’t all watch Lawrence of Arabia or 2001: A Space Odyssey or Playtime as they were intended to be seen, so the same is understood of anything new that comes along where critics implore you to make […]

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slashertruth-2

Ever since the slasher genre took off in the 80s, masked killers hacking up young co-eds has been a horror movie staple. While psychotic killers existed in movies for years (like Peeping Tom and Psycho), it was John Carpenter 1978 thriller Halloween that really popularized the concept and started a chain reaction of copy-cat films. Since then, notable slasher anti-heroes like Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees have become synonymous with horror movies in general. These franchises became extremely popular with the moviegoing audiences, but they were also the target by many various groups (including this classic Sneak Previews episode with Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert bemoaning this “disturbing new trend”) for being too violent. Here at Film School Rejects, we love our horror movies, and we love our slasher films. However, we are also interested in reality, and that got us thinking: Just how realistic are kills in slasher movies?

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Mars Attacks Congress

It’s that time of year again. Leaves are turning burnt orange, horror movies are confusingly not being released, and the GOP has threatened to shut down the government because they failed for the 54th time to stop a law that was passed three years ago. Only this time they actually followed through with the threat (go figure), and now none of us can enjoy the leaves at National Parks or watch NASA launch stuff into orbit. Unsurprisingly, the concept of the government shutting down (or at least this version of a shut down) isn’t well represented in movies because of how breathtakingly uncinematic it is. When we want to see a political crisis on screen, we demand that Harrison Ford punch a terrorist off of Air Force One or Denzel Washington get brainwashed. That doesn’t stop films from tiptoeing around the periphery or taking a central role in this current freeze. Whether directly referenced by politicians or symbolically evoked by our collective subconscious, movies are here to help us make sense of it all and/or confuse us even further.

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del mar theatre mhow

“Movie Houses of Worship” is a regular feature spotlighting our favorite movie theaters around the world, those that are like temples of cinema catering to the most religious-like film geeks. This week, FSR’s own Samantha Wilson chose one of her favorite theaters. If you’d like to suggest or submit a place you regularly worship at the altar of cinema, please email our weekend editor. The Del Mar Theatre Location: 1124 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz, CA Opened: August 14, 1936 No. of Screens: 3 Current First Run Titles: Rush and Thanks For Sharing 

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Looking for any excuse, Landon Palmer and Scott Beggs are using the 2012 Sight & Sound poll results as a reason to take different angles on the best movies of all time. Every week, they’ll discuss another entry in the list, dissecting old favorites from odd angles, discovering movies they haven’t seen before and asking you to join in on the conversation. Of course it helps if you’ve seen the movie because there will be plenty of spoilers. This week, they try to paint a smile on the face of Alfred Hitchcock‘s most terrifying chiller. In the #34 (tied) movie on the list, taxidermy enthusiast Norman Bates struggles to run a small roadside motel, but his life is turned upside down when a beautiful young woman on the run with some money rents a room and steals his heart. When his overbearing mother disapproves, she’ll threaten to tear his love apart. But why is it one of the best movies of all time?

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Fight Club Doctor

One of the trickiest things for a movie to pull off is the derailment of the narrative at the hands of a character we barely get any time with. We’re trucking along with a hero we like, and some plucky upstart with only a few lines of dialogue changes the game completely. It seems deeply unfair, like young Bruce Wayne enjoying his delightfully privileged upbringing when a guy with a gun in an alleyway puts all of that to an end, launching a deep psychosis and a billion-dollar franchise. Tellingly, Tim Burton and company proved they couldn’t handle the random nature of the situation when they turned that grinning alley guy into The Joker. It’s closure we didn’t even know we needed. Since embodying raw chance is a difficult job, it’s amazing when a movie uses it as an advantage, launches the story with it or hides it so thoroughly that we don’t even recognize how powerful a day player was. It can also be a powerful tool in seeing how the protagonist deals with the roadblock. Some rise to the occasion, others fall off the cliff, and still others grab their toys and go home.

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vaughn_bestof

In honor of the release of The Internship being the largest release upon the masses this weekend, we’ve got it in our heads that we should talk about the film’s biggest star, arguably Vince Vaughn, and try to settle the question of his best performance. Known mostly for more recent comedic work in things like Dodgeball, Wedding Crashers, Old School and the like, the Minneapolis, MN native has had a fairly long and interesting career. From his early work in television (he once had a guest roles on Doogie Howser, M.D. and 21 Jump Street) to his breakout performance in Swingers, he’s been around for a while and he’s done more than just speak jokes written by Adam McKay. With that in mind, we put the entirety of our career to our panel of writers, asking simply: what is Vince Vaughn’s best performance to date. Their answers (and a place for your own) can be found below.

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commentary-psycho

Legendary director Alfred Hitchcock has many connections to this week. First of all, this past Tuesday was “National Alfred Hitchcock Day,” during which cinema fans revisit the master’s masterworks. Also, the biopic Hitchcock released on Blu-ray and DVD earlier this week. Easily the most famous and most recognizable Hitchcock film was the 1960 thriller Psycho, which helped revitalize his career and changed the face of horror movies in general. Considering that Hitchcock tells the story behind Psycho, and it’s based on the book “Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho” (whose author, Stephen Rebello, performs the commentary here), it seems fitting to look at this classic thriller. Rebello’s commentary is available on the 2010 Blu-ray and subsequent DVD releases.

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IntroToProps

There are two reasons a movie might re-use a prop: because they have to or because they want to. Sometimes you love a movie so much you want to use or recreate a piece of it to show that love, or – if your budget is in the dumps – you just need something from the prop warehouse to re-paint and use as your own. Whatever the case, iconic is iconic, so if you are watching close enough you just might catch these one-of-a-kind props in films you wouldn’t expect them to be in.

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Bates Motel

Who in their right mind would want to see a prequel to Psycho? Sequels and remakes have been attempted, but have failed miserably recapturing the original’s magic. If Gus Van Sant can’t come out looking good when playing Alfred Hitchcock, then why even bother? A producer and writer from the show, Lost honcho Carlton Cuse, attended this year’s Southwest by Southwest to both tell us and show us why, premiering the show’s pilot to a few hundred people. It’s fair to say he answered the question of “who cares?” swiftly, mainly because of the prowess of Vera Farmiga, helping to bring real drama to the show’s key relationship. The pilot has a good deal of set up, but it still allows for smaller, more nuanced moments to tells us everything we need to know about Norman (Freddie Highmore) and his mother’s dynamic.

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IntroRelatives

Being on a movie set can be a blast – especially when you don’t have to do anything. It’s not hard to imagine that with every great actor or director there’s probably a nagging cousin or sibling who wants to be part of that sweet sitting around action. And how the hell are they going to say no? Giving mom a line is a small price to pay for 18 years of guaranteed food and shelter, right? How can an actor resist sticking their kid in a shot or two? It happens a lot – so much so that the following 15 are only the tip of the iceberg.

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IntroTwistedHoliday

If you’re anything like me, the same five holiday movies that run every year just aren’t enough to quench that festive thirst so deeply embossed on your very soul. You need more than that. If you are like me, you deserve more than that. You are also not wearing any pants. The general rule for holiday films is that they must at least take place around the season, right? And so, if we simply twist that logic to say that “takes place during the holidays = holiday movie”, then there’s a lot of fun to be had the next time mom and dad come caroling. Just go right ahead and pop in one of the following…

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Bates Motel TV 2013

In 2013, A&E will debut Bates Motel, a prequel inspired by Psycho that tells the story of Norma (Vera Farmiga) and Norman Bates (Freddie Highmore). It comes from Lost executive producer Carlton Cuse and looks to have a bit of Twin Peaks inside of it. The production has released a teaser that also features some of the cast and crew speaking to their vision. It’s all a bit too obvious on the marketing side, but it’s not hard to imagine this being a freaky, scary exploration of a life that led to a delusional killer. And why does this look like a movie, while everything from Hitchcock looked like it was made for TV?

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Hitchcock Review

Biopics take on a new personality when the subject is an admired figure or, worse still, a personal hero. Alfred Hitchcock’s well-deserved moniker, “The Master of Suspense,” does little to fully capture the elevated place of regard he holds with cinephiles who count themselves devoted fans, which is to say cinephiles. Sacha Gervasi‘s Hitchcock narrows the scope of the director’s life to the production of arguably his greatest film: Psycho. The film covers the lifespan of Psycho from inspirational inception to the labor pains of production, and finally its glorious delivery. Some may balk at the idea of a Hitchcock biopic covering such a short period of the man’s life and indeed only one movie from the intensely prolific director’s canon. However, this seemingly reductive approach is actually quite fitting considering the turning point that this one film represented and the inherent metaphors that can then be extrapolated from the production experience. Psycho was one of the riskiest endeavors of Hitch’s career. He was nearing the end of his professional life and wasn’t commanding as much studio confidence as he once was. It was at this precarious era that he decided to make, and self-fund, a film that not only challenged the conception of Hitchcock as an artist, but indeed changed the landscape of film itself. The studio refusing to fund the movie fed his lifelong insecurity and the tricks employed to sell Psycho to audiences were a function of his overarching commitment to publicity. So yes, the choice to […]

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Tyler Bates

If you have ever grabbed your arm rest in fright while watching the recent Halloween remake or buried your face in your scarf (as I often do during the scary parts of movies) when a particular stanza in the Dawn of the Dead score made you jump, you are already familiar with composer Tyler Bates‘ work. With Halloween upon us, I thought it only appropriate to sit down with Bates to pick his brain about all things horror from his favorite scary movies to what he loves about composing for them to his favorite Halloween memories (and costumes.) Read on to hear about his experience working with directors Rob Zombie and Neil Marshall, how his early exposure to horror films may have set his current career in motion, and what may happen when you attend a wedding on Halloween.

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Luis Bunuel once claimed that he kept rocks in his pockets during the first screening of Un Chien Andalou in case the crowd didn’t like what it saw. Whether or not that’s actually true, the audience reaction was never so bad that it came to violence. Apparently cutting open an eyeball wasn’t a real biggie in the 1920s. Of course, none of that changes how ridiculously hard that short film is to watch. It’s grotesque, nauseating, and a great starting point for decades of filmmakers continuing to make audiences freak the hell out. That grand tradition was continued with a second fainting at a screening of V/H/S and it’s a tradition we’d like to celebrate with 8 movies that caused some strong physical reactions.

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Hitchcock

Whenever an iconic actor takes on an iconic real-life figure as their next role, the film that they do it in tends to be guaranteed a certain amount of hype. Questions of how much they were made to look like them and how much they ended up sounding like them are the first things that cross everyone’s minds, so we all run out and gobble up those initial trailers. That’s likely to be the case for this new trailer for Sacha Gervasi’s Hitchcock, as well, because it features acting legend Anthony Hopkins portraying directing legend Alfred Hitchcock. How is Anthony Hopkins as Alfred Hitchcock? Is he doing an impression of him, or kind of doing his own thing? Does his jowl makeup look believable? Luckily for us, the answers to all of these questions are contained here in this trailer, so our curiosity can be sated. When Hopkins is in the makeup, yes, he looks quite a bit like Hitchcock. He seems to be mimicking his mannerisms pretty broadly, but there’s also quite a bit of his own voice coming through in his performance. In a movie like this, where one celebrity plays another celebrity, complete with makeup and wardrobe, there’s always the possibility that after a while the whole thing will start to feel like an overly long SNL sketch and get ridiculous, but Hitchcock passes the initial sniff test.

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Reject Recap: The Best of Film School Rejects

You may not want to see Taken 2 (it’s really quite terrible), but you hopefully want to take two on the week, as in revisit our last seven days of content to make sure you didn’t miss anything. It’s been another full session, as we closed out our Fantastic Fest coverage and dug deeper into the New York Film Festival with reviews and features courtesy of our incredibly smart guest contributors Caitlin Hughes and Daniel Walber along with the always excellent Jack Giroux. Speaking of reviews, in addition to that deservedly negative take on the Taken sequel, we republished fest responses to Frankenweenie, The House I Live In, Butter and V/H/S. Interviews this week included Hotel Transylvania director Genndy Tartakovsky and The Paperboy director Lee Daniels. Visit the trailers tag for first looks at the latest Die Hard, the next Lars von Trier and Rob Zombie films, Lone Ranger and a porn star documentary. And, as always, keep track of our daily short film showcase, TV coverage and other favorite columns via their respective buttons around the main page. Bookmark where you will. In addition to all that, you can check out our ten best features from the past week plus some other recommended reading after the break.

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Jaws

Ah yes. It’s that time of the year, folks. The only month where it’s slightly less mean to jump out at a child while wearing a clown mask. The vandal’s holiday… cretin Christmas. It really is a special time for all of us horror movie fans. So let’s light some candles, get our favorite Misfits album out and start this party. They say that nothing can ever outdo the imagination – something that is most evident when it comes to terror and death. It’s not what you see that scares you – it’s what you don’t. It’s why we fear the dark. So while gore is great fun, it’s nothing compared to something merely implied.

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published: 11.21.2014
D
published: 11.21.2014
B+
published: 11.19.2014
C+
published: 11.19.2014
B-, C


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