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Psycho

Year: 1960
Production Co: Shamley Productions
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Writer: Robert Bloch
Cast: Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh
The pinnacle of Alfred Hitchcock's career and also the nascent birth of the slasher movie that would find its feet on video 20 years later.

It's also one of those films that's long since transcended the screen to become a cultural institution. Even if you haven't seen it you know what the shrieking violins symbolise. For film geeks eager to stay ahead of the trivia curve, even nuggets like the blood seeping down the plughole actually being chocolate sauce and the story's basis on the real case of Ed Gein are passé. The first 15 minutes is almost more famous than the shocking climatic twist for sheer cinematic power.

On the run after embezzling her bosses, bad girl Marion (Leigh) checks into the wrong place. Young Norman (Perkins), who runs Bates Motel, is polite but violently repressed by his domineering mother, who doesn't take kindly to any woman who catches Norman's eye.

Norman apparently means Marion no more harm than to use the small peephole to spy on her in the shower, but before you can say 'shadow behind the shower curtain', the figure of an old woman tears the shower curtain back and attacks Marion with a knife, enacting one of the most famous murders in movie history.

Here's how to test a movie fan – ask them what happens next if they've seen it. Despite it being the most famous murder mystery of the modern age, few people can remember exactly what happened between Marion's shocking early exit and the staggering twist as the detective turns the chair around to get a look at Norman's mother. After seeing this film once on TV when I was about 15 (where we laughed at our mother assuring us it would be scarier than anything we'd ever seen before), I barely remember the rest myself.

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