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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Book Review: Psycho by Robert Bloch


Quite possibly one of the most famous films of all-time. The shower scene has been imitated and duplicated so many times over the years that young children who have never even been exposed to the Hitchcock classic know its origin. But before Hitchcock made showers terrifying forever, the guise of Norman Bates came in the form of a short pudgy man on the written page.

In 1959, Robert Bloch wrote a novel. He based his main character loosely on the crimes of Ed Gein. The character he created was named Norman Bates, and horror history was made.

Now, many people know of Norman Bates being the tall, handsome but odd gentleman that Anthony Perkins famously brought to life in 1960. But Bates began as a pudgy middle aged loner who lives with his mother in the famous house above the Bates Motel.

Now, to go over the story would be ludicrous, as anyone bothering to visit this blog should know it, and if not, shame on you, go watch the film. The real question for most people is about the differences between the novel and the film. Well, there are few. The Hitch remained faithful for the most part, with only a few slight changes from the novel.

The two biggest changes were of course in the physical description of Norman himself, and in the shower scene. In the film, Norman is personified perfectly by Anthony Perkins, but in the book, as mentioned previously, he is a middle-aged, overweight secret alcoholic. Other than that, his character is essentially the same as in the film.

Now, for the shower scene. When Mother visits Mary (the name was changed to Marion in the film because of an actual Mary Crane living in Phoenix at the time) she does not do a repeated stabbing as in the film. Instead, she uses the knife to cut her head off completely. I cannot lie, knowing of this change it still came as a shock due to the fantastic way that Bloch writes.

As for the written word itself, the book is a swift read. It clocks in at about 176 pages, and it moves quickly. The shower scene hits about 50 pages into the book. The book wastes no time sucking you into the story, and other than the sometimes quick way it jumps focus from character to character, I find no fault in the writing style.

Overall the book is a must read for any fan of the film, and of the horror genre in general. I highly recommend it.


Psycho, by Robert Bloch

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