Review: Psycho 50th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray

Psycho 50th Anniversary Blu-ray boxSTUDIO: Universal | DIRECTOR: Alfred Hitchcock | CAST: Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles
RELEASE DATE: 10/19/2010 | PRICE: Blu-ray $26.98
BONUSES: documentary, featurettes, commentary, vintage footage and press materials
SPECS: R | 109 min. | horror/thriller | 1.85:1 aspect ratio | DTS-HD 5.1 audio | Spanish and French subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

Pscyho movie scene with Janet LeighAlfred Hitchcock’s classic horror thriller movie Psycho debuted on high-definition Blu-ray as part of its 50th anniversary celebrations. And it couldn’t be a more perfect gift for fans.

The movie has been remastered from its previously restored and preserved version, and it looks and sounds great. The sound and picture look better than we’ve seen for a while, and probably better than when the film played in theaters 50 years ago.

But this Blu-ray release isn’t just all polished up and looking pretty. Universal has packed the disc with special features, most from earlier DVD editions but some new. Altogether, they offer hours of interesting and entertaining footage aside from the movie itself.

The prize jewel of the special features is the feature-length documentary The Making of Psycho, by renowned DVD and Blu-ray documentarian Laurent Bouzereau. Including interviews with Psycho writer Joseph Stefano, star Janet Leigh and many others, the documentary gives fans a true insider’s look at the making of this iconic film. But more than that, it also gives fans a chance to get to know the stars (Anthony Perkins is a true gentleman, Leigh says) and director Hitchcock (for example, he liked to have his wife read every script he considered before he took it on).

Hitchcock himself is heard from in “Hitchcock/Truffaut Interviews,” with fun excerpts from a 1962 audio interview between the two.

And Hitchcock’s filmmaker fans speak out in the featurette “In the Master’s Shadow: Hitchcock’s Legacy,” featuring such acclaimed directors as Martin Scorsese (Shutter Island) and Guillermo Del Toro (Hellboy).

The Blu-ray has two looks at the brilliant and spooky shower scene (chosen as one of Disc Dish‘s 31 scariest movie moments), one at the impact of the music and the other on the original storyboard design.

Plus there’s a commentary by Stephen Rebello, author of Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho. Rebello is well-versed in the movie, even discussing the inspirations behind the opening credits for the film.

And there’s plenty of vintage material:

  • newsreel footage about the unique policy Hitchcock insisted upon for the movie’s theatrical release (theaters were not allowed to admit viewers after the film had started, saying it would diminish the impact of the story)
  • posters, ads, lobby cards and trailers from the original theatrical campaign
  • and behind-the-scenes photographs.

All of these were available on the Universal Legacy Series DVD released in 2008. But there is one new featurette, “Psycho Sound,” which explores the remastering process from the movie’s original mono elements to the new 5.1 mix. It’s an interesting, and not too techy, look at the work that goes into restoring these classic films for today’s technology. Fans will be pleased to hear that nothing was changed; it’s all enhanced the way Hitchcock would have wanted it. We agree.


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About S. Clark

Sam Clark is the former Managing Editor/Online Editor of Video Business magazine. With 19 years experience in journalism, 12 in the home entertainment industry, Sam has been hooked on movies on since she saw E.T. then stared into the sky waiting to meet her own friendly alien. Thanks to her husband’s shared love of movies, Sam reviews Blu-ray discs in a true home theater, with a 118-inch screen, projector and cushy recliners with cup holders.