PSYCHO — Strange Christmas Movies #11 (of 24)

For the days leading up to Christmas, Strangers and Aliens presents 24 Christmas movies that aren’t Christmas movies, but really kind of are, for various reasons.

Psycho#11 — Psycho

What it’s supposed to be: Alfred Hirchcock’s suspenseful interpretation of Robert Bloch’s novel about a serial killer who has a penchant for not just killing, but killing young women played by famous actresses forcing a change in who you think is the main character so you aren’t expecting it to happen if you were in the original audiences when the movie came out, but if you are a modern audience member you already know exactly what is going to happen because even if you haven’t seen the movie, you’ve probably seen the famous shower murder or you’ve seen someone parody it.

Why it’s a Christmas movie: I’ll be the first to admit it. This one is weak.

I’ll also be the first to admit it. I don’t care.

It’s on screen, and that makes it so! After the opening credits, a title card comes up stating: “Pheoniz, Arizona. December 11.” (That’s why this post goes up on the 11th!)

Why did they do this? Well, it seems when Hitchcock’s people went out to get some b-roll footage for the background of a street shot, they accidentally shot a section of street with Christmas decorations. Rather than reshoot, they used it and inserted the card.

So what makes this a Christmas movie? This:


But the truth is, there’s some depth to this movie that gets just a little bit of a thematic kick from being set during the Christmas season.

Thoughts: Psycho is a thriller. It’s Hitchcock at the top of his game as he creates a moody character piece that keeps you off kilter. If you have not seen it, and think you do not need to because you already know what is going to happen with the big murder scene in the middle and the big reveal at the end, there is more to it than the twists and turns.

There are themes of good and evil, sin and redemption, and hiding your secret evils. The movie opens with who we think is the main character (and who we spend the entire opening of the movie with) as she is having an illicit romantic tryst with a man she cannot be with. Her undergarments are white in this scene. But when she is asked to deposit a large amount of money, she chooses to steal the money instead and as she struggles over this, on making the choice we see her undergarments are now black.

She spends the rest of her time on screen struggling with and hiding her crime. The camera spends a lot of time looking at the money she has stolen, or looking at what she has used to hide it. So the beginning of the movie has her commit her sin and then deal with the internal consequences of it.

After she is killed, the rest of the movie deals with Norman Bates dealing with the consequences of THAT crime. Among other things. The Bates family has some secrets, to say the least, and again sins are hidden and crimes are covered up.

The thing that makes this have slightly more thematic weight (for me as a Christian) by being set around Christmas time is that while Marion Crane and the Bates family are scurrying about, worrying about their evil deeds, Christmas is about the coming of the one who offers forgiveness of sins.

As humans, our nature is to cover up our sins; because of Christmas, we are given the opportunity to have our sins covered for us.

Some of these themes I am positive Hitchcock intended. The nativity of the Christmas season, of course, is me being one of those Christians who finds unintended applications. But even without those intentions, Psycho is a disturbing, but thematically rich, thriller.

Is It Naughty or Nice? This is a classic for a reason. The fact that it can be considered a “strange Christmas movie” makes it even better! (PS — The remake? Don’t bother. Its only value is as a curiosity.)

Santa Ben’s Verdict: Nice.

Your verdict? Let me know below in the comments!

Next: Toy Story (from a special guest writer!)

Previous: Hellboy II

You can follow this series of posts by clicking here: Strange Christmas Movies

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2 responses to “PSYCHO — Strange Christmas Movies #11 (of 24)”

  1. Michael Poteet Avatar

    Ben, this whole series has been a lot of fun, but today’s takes the cake. Very creatively done! It’s a great movie, but I would never have connected it to Christmas!

    Frankly, there’s probably also some rich/disturbing maternal themes to explore, with Norman’s dead mother as a kind of weird Madonna…. ok, maybe now I’m going too far!

    1. Ben Avatar

      Yeah, I think that line of thought leads to madness . . . 🙂

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