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Monday, October 21

13 Reads of Horror! - Psycho by Robert Bloch


I believe I was eight or nine-years-old when I first saw the classic Albert Hitchcock's Psycho. It aired on a local channel so it was edited a bit. Nevertheless, I became a huge fan of the Psycho movie series at an early age.

For those of you who aren't already aware of this, Psycho was based on the 1959 novel of the same name by Robert Bloch, who would later go on to write two sequel novels, Psycho II and Psycho House. And, no, sequel books' plots were never used for the sequel films.

Psycho centers around an overweight 40-year-old Norman Bates who runs his mother's motel. On a late stormy night, a young beautiful woman, Mary Crane, arrives at the motel looking for a room for the night. Let's just say things to go to well for Mary as she's brutally murdered by what look likes Norman's mother, Norma.

Unknown to Norman, Mary had stolen $40,000 from her boss and now many people are searching for her, including her boyfriend - Sam Loomis, her little sister - Lila, and a private investigator - Milton Arbogast. All the evidences points Mary's whereabouts to Bates Motel!

Final Thoughts

I didn't even know the 1960 film was based on a novel until the horrible 1998 remake was released. Tor Books had re-released the 1959 novel with a new cover art that ties-in with the remake. I came across this book in a Kmart store in 1998 and I bought it believing it was the novelization for the remake. Only until I actually started reading it did I learn it was the 1959 novel. Since then, I've gotten a couple other editons of Psycho to add to book collection.

Is the book better than the 1960 film?

I'm going to say "no" for one reason - Albert Hitchcock. The director was a genius when it came to adding tension to camera shots in Psycho. Add in the creepy music and Anthony Perkins performance, then it's really difficult to beat.

The novel is also good on its own with the storyline being pretty much the same as the movie but with a few differences. For starters, Norman Bates is a fat, balding 40-year-old who wears eyes glasses. He still likes taxidermy (like in the movie) but his real passion is reading countless books. The deaths of Mary (Marion in the movie) and Arbogast are also different. Yes, Mary gets stabbed while taking a shower but she also gets beheaded. Arbogast meets his end with a razor instead of knife.

The ending speech by the psychiatrist is slightly different with him referring to Norman as a "secret transvestite" because he killed people dressed as his mother. Norman is also said to have three personalities - childlike Norman, Mother, and adult Norman. Personally, I prefer the movie's ending over the one in the book. It makes more sense that Norman had two personalities - Norman and Mother. The way I see it, Norman wasn't trying to be his mother but instead his "Mother" side was created due to years of mental abuse from Norma. "Mother" was way to clean up Norman's many mistakes. No, Norman wasn't a transvestite. He didn't want to dress up like a woman. He only wear  Norma's dress when the "Mother" personality took over. (I hope my rant makes sense!)

Overall, Psycho is a really good read if you're into thrillers or slashers. 


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