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5.0 out of 5 starsIS THERE A NEW BLU-RAY TRANSFER OF PSYCHO? + Blu-Ray Filmography of Hitchcock
Reviewed in the United States on July 1, 2017
2020 UPDATE: YES! THERE FINALLY IS A NEW BLU-RAY OF PSYCHO. Hooray! This is the fourth time Universal has issued Psycho on Blu-ray (the first three were identical in content and only differed in their cover design). There are two unique versions of Psycho on the 60th Anniversary Blu-ray: --- First home release of the “uncut” version (aka the 60th Anniversary Version) that disappeared shortly after initial screenings in 1960, and was only recently discovered hiding in Germany (more about the uncut version later). --- The 1960 general release version (previously released as the 50th Anniversary Version). Both versions give the viewer a choice of Hitchcock’s original mono soundtrack (2.0) or a newly created surround (7.1) home theater extravaganza (the three previous Blu-rays were in 5.1 surround). BLU-RAY RECALL: The first pressing of the 60th Anniversary Blu-ray (September 2020) was faulty. Instead of using Hitchcock’s original mono soundtrack, Universal created a new mono soundtrack by blending the seven newly created channels into a single channel. This was a Bad Idea (the sound effects were too loud and drowned out the dialogue). Responding to complaints, three months later Universal remastered the 60th Anniversary Blu-ray, dumping the ersatz mono soundtrack and restoring Hitchcock’s original mono soundtrack. Much cleaner mono sound + you still have the 7.1 surround sound version if that’s what you really want. The serial numbers on the outer rim (at 7 o'clock on the label) are different: Faulty Blu-ray disc = “1130624" Corrected Blu-ray disc = "1147481" (with Hitchcock’s mono soundtrack) Be wary of buying used copies. I assume the serial numbers are also different for 4K discs, but I don't have them for comparison.
“Dear Customer, We apologize that you are having difficulty with your copy of Psycho (1960) Blu-ray. Universal Pictures Home Entertainment is offering replacement discs for Psycho (1960). To receive a replacement disc, please email the following information: -- Your shipping address -- Daytime telephone number -- A copy of your sales receipt OR a photo of the disc and the packaging Please send the above requested information to the email address below: PROBLEM - AMAZON WON'T LET ME POST THE EMAIL ADDRESS. We hope that you will continue to enjoy this and future Universal releases. Sincerely, Consumer Relations” Try looking up UNIVERSAL PICTURES HOME ENTERTAINMENT CUSTOMER SERVICE on Google. Sorry I can't be more helpful.
This is the fourth time Universal has released ‘Psycho’ on Blu-ray. The first three had different covers (see photos), but the contents were identical (see the end of this review for my original review). The new “60th Anniversary Edition” Blu-ray, released in 2020, finally offers something different: The original uncut version. To make sure the Blu-ray you are ordering is the 60th Anniversary Edition, copy and paste in the Amazon Search bar: Psycho 60th Anniversary Blu-ray
I was really excited about the uncut version. After viewing it, my excitement has cooled somewhat (though I’m still glad I bought it). Both the old 50th Anniversary version and the new 60th Anniversary version are included on the new Blu-ray. The old version is 1 hour, 48 minutes, 51 seconds. The new version is 1 hour, 49 minutes, 04 seconds. This is a 13 second difference. Three scenes are slightly altered: -- @ 44:44 Janet Leigh is undressing for the shower. There is a two second shot where she removes her bra, but it is shot from an angle where we can’t see her breasts, so there was little need to edit it in the first place (see black and white photo). -- @ 53:06 Norman Bates stares at the blood on his hands and takes much longer washing his hands than in the older version. -- @1:17:47 Martin Balsam is attacked and falls down the stairs. Mother then stabs him three times while he is lying on the floor, versus just one stab in the older version.
I was expecting cuts in the shower scene (no pun intended) - the most controversial scene in the movie - but it is identical in both versions (2 minutes, 38 seconds). Kind of a letdown, but the new version can still accurately be described as the longest version on Blu-ray. All the bonus features (quite a lot) are carried over from the old Blu-rays. I thought Universal would at least have produced a new featurette about the restored scenes, but they passed on the opportunity. All versions have English SDH subtitles.
NEW 4-K VERSION: Universal has been remastering all their Hitchcock films in 4-K since at least 2010. But when they were transferred to standard Blu-ray (like this), the transfers were dumbed down to the earlier Blu-ray standard (still a big improvement over DVD). If you can afford a 4-K Television and 4-K Blu-ray player, you should certainly consider the newly released eight-disc boxed set (four 4-K Blu-rays + four standard Blu-rays) from Universal: Copy and paste the following phrase in the Amazon search bar: The Alfred Hitchcock Classics Collection 4-K Blu-Ray Four Hitchcock films make their 4-K debut in this box: ‘Rear Window’, ‘Vertigo’, ‘Psycho’ and ‘The Birds’ (though only ‘Psycho’ has new material). Amazon is selling it for $60 which is quite a bargain. The only thing I don’t like about it is that it comes packaged in the thick cardboard “Little Golden Book” format with minimal protection for the discs. Presumably the four individual films will be released separately on 4-K in the near future (‘Psycho’ in 4-K has already appeared in the UK).
MY OLD REVIEW - AVOID THESE BLU-RAYS: Before 2020, Universal issued ‘Psycho’ on blu-ray three times, each time with a different cover (see photos) Version A: Psycho (1960) [Blu-ray “50th Anniversary Edition” Version B: Psycho (1960) - Limited Edition Steelbook (Blu-ray + DIGITAL HD with UltraViolet)] “Steelbook Edition”” Version C: [[ASIN:B01FUYRK6C Psycho (1960) [Blu-ray “Collectible Pop Art Edition” Two obvious questions: 1) Did Universal add any deleted scenes or bonus features that were missing from the first blu-ray? 2) Is version B or C a new digital transfer? --- Unfortunately, the answers are No and No. This is pure cynicism on the part of Universal. All three blu-rays are identical. Only the covers are different. -- The “Steelbook Edition” simply means that the blu-ray comes packaged in a steel case instead of a plastic case. It will survive a nuclear holocaust, but if you drop it, it will get dented and look crappy. -- Unless you are an aging hipster, the “Collectible Pop Art Edition” is beneath contempt. ------------------------------------------------- So get the new “60th Anniversary Psycho Blu-ray” (or the 4-K Blu-ray if you have the equipment to play it).
ALFRED HITCHCOCK FILMOGRAPHY: Alfred Hitchcock directed 56 feature films (not counting short subjects). ---- 'The Mountain Eagle' (1927) is a lost film. ---- 'Blackmail' (1929) is counted twice - it was Hitchcock's final silent film, and was also filmed as his first talkie. ---- 'Aventure Malgache' and 'Bon Voyage' (1944) are not feature films. These were French-language propaganda shorts (combined running time: 57 minutes) produced during World War II. Available on DVD Alfred Hitchcock's Bon Voyage & Aventure Malgache or Amazon Prime Video.
In the following list I give preference to Blu-ray over DVD, and to Region 1 (US) over Region 2 (Europe), but sometimes this was not possible: The best copies of ‘The Pleasure Garden’ (1925), ‘Elstree Calling’ (1930) and ‘Number 17 (1932) are on Region 2 import DVDs. The best copies of ‘Sabotage’ (1936) and ‘Young and Innocent’ (1937) are on Region B import Blu-rays. There are no really good copies of ‘Easy Virtue’, ‘Juno and the Paycock’ or ‘Secret Agent’ - my stopgap recommendation is the Mill Creek four-DVD box which is inexpensive if nothing else. A region-free Blu-ray player is a good investment. They cost about $150 on Amazon or Ebay. Under Electronics, look up “region free Blu-ray player”. - or you can watch Region 2 DVDs (but not Region B Blu-rays) on your computer’s DVD drive.
** MILL CREEK DVD BOX: Alfred Hitchcock: The Legend Begins - 20 Movie Classics - American DVDs This is a collection of 18 British films, squeezed onto four DVDs in terrible transfers. But at least the price is super-cheap. It contains several rarities: ---- 1928 Easy Virtue - no really good alternative to Mill Creek ---- 1930 Juno and the Paycock - no really good alternative to Mill Creek ---- 1936 Secret Agent - no really good alternative to Mill Creek ---- also Number 17 and Sabotage, which are available in superior competing versions from the UK.
PART TWO: HOLLYWOOD, 1940-1976 30 films: 28 are on blu-ray. (some of them were filmed in the UK, but produced and released by American studios)
Psycho is a horror film so engrained in the zeitgeist that even people who have never heard of it know about it's famous shower scene. One of my many movie-going regrets is that this movie was spoiled for me even before I ever even saw the title. I can only imagine what this movie might've been like in 1960--before Leatherface, Freddy, and Halloween. Today the film is relatively tame, but still highly unnerving in atmosphere. There's not much gore or violence, but music, story, and plot twists still manage to get under your skin. Not to mention the iconic ending.
Hitchcock is the Franz Liszt of playing with people's emotions, in real-life and in films, and this movie might be the most indicative of that fact. Even if I know everything that's going to happen I still fall under the film's nerve-pinching spell. When Marion barely escapes the radar of a suspicious policeman, or when the car of a victim stalls from sinking in Norman's favorite swamp, I found myself holding my breath even when I know the whole story. If that's not the sign of a master filmmaker, than I give up.
Picture quality is great. Special Features are many and help add to the appreciation of the film.
However the main con I do have with this version is the audio. When it comes to the mixing of the sound effects, noises such as rainfall or doors opening and closing, sounds too clear and compared to the other sounds, such the actors voices, makes them stand out. Although, most people will probably not have a big deal with this. Overall I'm happy that I have this.
The product came in perfect shape. No complaints at all. I did find the movie a little overrated. I probably went into watching the movie with too high expectations based on the hype around the movie and considered a classic.
I love this because I HATE horror movies but like the feeling of being frightened - I guess I just have a lower tolerancy. This film is frightening in the way that most classic films were. It's black/white, and the overall feeling is kind of mysterious and suspenseful. I feel like everyone should see this film at least once - given that it is a good movie and it was quite popular. It's an enjoyably frightening movie, making you feel "creeped out" moreso than "grossed out."
We ordered this because we started watching the modern TV show, Bates Motel, which is based on Psycho. For its time, this movie is pretty damn good. The technology wasn't as good as now, obviously, but it's still a suspenseful movie considering it used psychological tricks to keep you on the edge of your seat. I had thought it would be a bit hokey like many old movies are but it's not that bad.
How Awful About Allan (1970)--TV movie starring Anthony Perkins whose guilt over a family tragedy leaves him blind and mentally ill. At the start of the film, he is released to the care of his sister, but does she have an agenda of her own? Perkins is good, but it felt extremely long at 74 minutes. **
Dementia 13 (1963)--An ax murderer at a family reunion in an Irish castle and a daughter-in-law who is trying to cover up her husband's death to keep from losing her portion of the inheritance. Produced by Roger Corman and Directed by Francis Ford Coppola, it will remind you much more of one of Corman's Edgar Allen Poe movies than anything Coppola did, but not bad if you don't go in expecting The Godfather. ***
Maniac (1934)--Barely coherent movie about a lab assistant that murders his boss. Has some nudity, which was taboo back then (the Hayes Code don't ya know), but women were ugly back in 1934, so it will bring you no joy to see it. Highlight is title character plucking out and eating cat's eye. Sucks hind teat. *
The Screaming Skull (1958 b/w)--Opening scene shows coffin and explains that the film studio insured patrons against dying of fright watching the movie. You'll probably be all right. Recent widower marries former mental hospital patient and takes her to "charming" villa in countryside where she hears spooky sounds and sees spooky things, but then in the morning, they're all gone, she can't prove them, and there are leering suspicions she might be slipping back into insanity. But could it the supernatural? Or her husband (hint: almost certainly yes)? Leading lady has the face of a middle-age woman, but a dynamite body, so the director has her moping around in lingerie a lot. Tedious, but not completely unwatchable. **
The Killing Kind (1973)--John Savage stars as anti-social psychotic who is released from prison after serving time for rape. He lives with his mother with whom he may be carrying on an incestuous relationship and in his spare time kills the people who put him behind bars. Then, he kills some other people for no particular reason at all. A movie in exquisitely bad taste, it should satisfy exploitation diehards. Look for small role by Cindy Williams of Laverne & Shirley fame. ***1/2
Anatomy of a Psycho (1961 b/w)--A 50's-ish JD film about a teenager out for revenge against the people who testified against his brother, who was justly convicted and executed for murder. He frames another teenager for a crime he himself committed. Actors playing teenagers were in their mid-thirties, but one scene in high school reveals that they're students. Pretty dull. No psychos. I think they titled the film as a cross between Anatomy of a Murder (1959) and Psycho (1960). *1/2
Tormented (1960)--In opening scene, Tom's sexpot mistress Vi threatens to expose their affair if he abandons her for the gawky, plain jane fiancé Sandy. Vi loses her footing and dangles from ledge. Tom neglects to save her ("How unfortunate you accidentally fell to your death Vi and couldn't blackmail me"). She haunts Tom as he prepares for wedding on small island off California coast. Directed by Bert I Gordon, who also directed dopey monster movies Empire of the Ants and Earth vs. the Spider. This one is a little long, but is actually pretty entertaining, with a nice noir vibe running through it, which is supported by some modern jazz. ***
Craze (1974)--Jack Palance runs an antique store in England and worships an idol in the basement. The idol delivers good fortune when Palance offers human sacrifices. Although an obvious whack job, he has a cute chubby girlfriend about 20 years his junior. Pretty dumb, but watchable. **1/2
Twisted Obsession (1989)--Story pretty murky, as is the lighting on this one. Jeff Goldblum plays screenwriter in Paris, who agrees to write a screenplay for young filmmaker because he sleeps with the filmmaker's attractive younger sister. A twisted obsession ensues, but coherence does not. Would have been a nice low budget thriller if it did. **
The Sadist (1963)--Serial killer played by Arch Hall Jr. is based on the exploits of Charles Starkweather and his girlfriend Carol Ann Fugate. They take three people hostage at a rural California gas station. This film is a cult classic and the image is decent. Truth be told, it's pretty dated and Arch Hall Jr. overacts throughout, but it's still worth a look. ***
Overall, I thought this was pretty good public domain stuff at a very reasonable price. I bought it mainly to get cheap copies of The Sadist and Dementia 13, but I'm really glad I got to see Tormented and The Killing Kind as well, which I had never even heard of before.
Have you ever thought about upgrading a title in your movie collection because the newer version was remastered better? What about the extra features---like the commentary, background about the movie or director, outtakes, longer scenes, choosing of the cast members, etc?
I have to admit that PSYCHO was one of 5 Alfred Hitchcock Films I've never gotten tired of. But this current version is in a class by itself. IT'S EXCELLENT!
A great digital transfer has cleaned up this nearly 60 year old film! Start by watching the famous Hitchcock Trailer and the reissue trailer. How many of you reading this knew that they concluded with Vera Miles in the shower and not Janet Leigh? Once you've seen the restored version---continue on Disc 1 to Newsreel Footage about the Grand Premiere with Sir Alfred and members of the cast. There are 2 segments concerning the shower scene, posters, theatrical notes and quite a bit of behind-the-scenes info. You might want to revisit the film a 2nd time for Stephen Rebello's excellent commentary? [Stephen wrote the book: "Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of 'Psycho'"].
Disc 2 Begins with an excellent documentary on "The Making of Psycho". This is followed by "The Hitchcock Legacy", and one of the 30 minute 'Alfred Hitchcock Presents' entitled "Lamb To The Slaughter" which stars Barbara Bel Geddes. Even though I figured out the ending before the show was over, it proves that a good script, cast and direction never go out of style. [The cars in the episode are the one exception]. The only supplemental feature that I felt was weak was the interchange between Sir Alfred and Director, Francois Truffault. Hearing each others questions and answers through an interpretor became very annoying after awhile. Granted they both were legendary, but I found their interchange VERY DULL! Personally, I wish TCM & Universal had skipped this entire segment and given us a 2nd (or 3rd) Alfred Hitchcock Episode instead?
Overall...I liked it--especially the DVD cover shot of the creepy house behind the sign: BATES MOTEL! Booooooo!
My friend was absolutely aghast when I admitted that I'd never seen this, so we sat down on the couch, and rented it from Amazon.
So... just to be clear, I watched this in 2015 for the first time - in my late 30s - knowing very little about the movie (other than the sound and imagery associated with the infamous shower scene, and the name "Norman Bates"). That said, I'm happy to report that this does hold up pretty well, even today. Toward the end, I was trying to guess where the film was going, plot-wise, and I was able to get pretty close, but I wasn't able to get every detail right. That alone left me impressed. I mean... this movie is 55 years old at this point, and it still kept me guessing to some small degree. Also, it's well shot and acted for the time as well.
If you're like me, and you've never really sat down to give this movie a serious viewing, I recommend doing so.
Although not my favourite Hitchcock movie (that would be
North by Northwest (50th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray Book)
) fans of this his great thriller will be very happy indeed with this blu-ray transfer which has now become the definitive and best version of the movie that is currently out there. In addition to very good special feature documentaries we get a very good 1080p picture quality transfer and an even better DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround sound quality as well albeit there is really little surround sound to appreciate from this mostly front-heavy sonic source material but still both picture and sound quality far exceed the dvd version that I previously owned.
The problem with whodunnit's and thrillers like this though is that the original scare value and hence appreciation of the film drops off substantially once you know the ending and unless you are a film student having to write a paper on the film or a budding director trying to learn Hitchcockian technique most casual viewers may struggle to find great rewards from repeated viewing well at least that's the case for me. There is no doubting that this is a great classic and is essential viewing if you haven't already seen it and if that's the case this blu-ray release is currently the best way to do this. Although I've watched this a few times I can still see myself revisiting this film from time to time although not as regularly and with great anticipation as I do for other films that I do so annually such as
Lawrence of Arabia
The Godfather - The Coppola Restoration Giftset (The Godfather / The Godfather Part II / The Godfather Part III) [Blu-ray
Dr. Strangelove [Blu-ray
] and especially
2001: A Space Odyssey [Blu-ray
] among several others that I seem to be amply rewarded with each subsequent viewing.
Great content, great picture and sound quality as well as special features makes this an easy review.