September 2009 Archives

The New Uncanny: An Overall Opinion

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            I found The New Uncanny to be an interesting read, and a creative way to show an audience some of Freud’s ideology(s) without giving a straightforward psychological analysis. Personally, I think that since I haven’t read a lot about Freud, that this was a good way for me to jump into it and get a variety of interpretations on his approach to understanding the mind, and how it works.  Now I have yet to read The Uncanny article, but I honestly feel a little bit better about it, now that I have started to ease my way into his theories.  For the most part, I really enjoyed a lot of the stories, and I thought that the writers did an admirable job of sticking to the causes of fear that Freud explains in the introduction of the book: inanimate objects mistaken as animate, animate beings behaving as if inanimate or mechanical, being blinded, the double, coincidences or repetitions, being buried alive, some all-controlling evil genius, and confusions between reality and imagination. With that said, I wanted to talk a little about some of my favorite stories and explain why I thought that they reached out to me, and touched me the most.

From when I first started reading the “Double Room” I knew that I was really going to like it. I love the alter ego/ conscious trip that writers tend to take their protagonists through, and I think that these types of stories always have a good underlying sense of mortality to them in the end. I personally liked that Ferguson had the feeling of being “trapped in an infantile game by someone who’d succumbed to their second childhood, if not worse (14).”  If he knocked on the wall, someone knocked back, or if he said something, almost the same exact words were rehearsed back to him.  It was a really wild, yet effective way to show how someone’s inner battle with themselves can be revealed to them through their conscience.   Perhaps even though he tries to convince himself that he didn’t want her to die…deep down inside, he really did.  Now he’s paying for it, and he’s not the one in control anymore.

My second favorite story was probably “The Underhouse,” because it reminded me a lot of surrealist art, and the theories and speculation behind it.  Surrealism delves into the deepest parts of one’s thoughts and nightmares, and then shows them through an unconscious stream of consciousness; it’s actually rather quite sublime in my opinion, because we are both terrified by it and overwhelmed by it at the same time. When I was reading it, the first thought that came to my mind was wow- this reminds me a lot of Alice in Wonderland when she is falling down the hole, trying to catch the rabbit.  I feel that the whole idea of the double and a perfect replication is quite frightening to me because it’s hard to imagine a world where there is no individuality left.  Don’t get me wrong, I think the protagonist played a great prank on his friends, but to him…it wasn’t really a prank as it might have been to us.  This was his world, and he wanted to see how people were going to react to it.  I got the feeling that he was conducting this crazy experiment and then having people come in and test their reactions.  It’s very brilliant, and it raises a lot of questions as to by doubling something (even if it comes down to your living room) are you trying to play God?  I say this because eventually, the person is going to get sick of replicating rooms, and want to try something else….

The last story I wanted to comment on was “Doll’s Eyes” frankly because I can relate to the notion of being afraid of dolls (I mean it took me a while to get over Chucky when I was younger, and now there is this whole porcelain doll thing…eh). Overall, I thought the story had great structure and organization, and because of that, as a reader, you almost got to know the dolls, and understand why Felicity thought some of them to be alive. I was very surprised by the conflict in the story, because I did not expect Carole to turn on Felicity on in the end, and try to sell the doll, but I must say her fate was well deserved.  On that note, the foreshadowing was done especially well on two levels.  One, it foreshadowed Carole’s blindness at the end, and secondly, it related the dolls to humanity thus giving them some type of power that an inanimate object should not have.  I wouldn’t call this a horror story, but I without a doubt find it to be uncanny, and uneasy.  I know I’ll never look at a doll the same way again.

 Overall, I really enjoyed reading the book, and I’m very interested in reading what my peers have to say when we all go into a deeper analysis on one particular story (which will be coming up in my blog shortly). 

Did I really just ok cannibalism?

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Which character do you identify with the most in this unit's readings, and how does the author build that identification?
 
If I had to pick one character that I identified the most with, I would probably have to pick Richard Pine (Survivor Type) based on his will to live and his unwavering state of optimism.  I know that if I was stranded on an island, and had the ability to write on something, that I would have most likely done the same thing as him.  I would have started to write my life story down in hopes that it would keep my mind off of being stranded and off of the seriousness of the situation.  I as well would have been focused on developing some type of system to appeal to rescuers—like he did when he spelled out HELP with the rocks on the beach.  The only thing that I would have been a little more focused on would have been developing some type of shelter/weapons.  He seemed content just laying down near a tree and soaking in the sun/shade, but who I am I to judge considering I have never been stranded on an island.  I might be a little fed up with life at that point too, and tell the shelter to f*** itself. Ha-Ha.  Nevertheless, I admire his state of mind (in the beginning) and his logical response to go about living on the island.

While Richard did come off as rather cocky and conceited, I did admire his need to excel and the drive of his ambition. The author built this identification with me by giving me a look into Richard’s past, and showing me what Richard had to do in order to get himself through college and the emphasis that he put on his career.  At one point in the story, he stated that after his football games (which ended up getting him a scholarship to college) he would ice and wrap his hands to keep them in good shape for when he attended medical school.  In high school (and as much as possible now) I would write every day before I went to sleep in order to help me become a stronger writer, whether it was in poetry or prose.  His drive reminds me a lot of myself, because I am very passionate about my studies so in that sense I can see where Richard is coming from in working to achieve his goals.  This also showed off in how he dealt with his situation, because he never once stated that he thought he was going to die, or that someone wasn’t going to come save him.  He was very optimistic and never wavered on the notion of being saved.

Richard was also very good with his problem solving techniques, and I like to think of myself as being good with finding alternative solutions to difficult situations.  He stalked the gulls and developed a method to killing them (most of the time), and also hunted for crabs as well as looked for fish and edible plants.  He was doing what he needed to do to survive…including amputating his foot when it became infected…and then eating it when he started to starve…including the rest of most of his body.  Now in regards to that… I think that I could amputate my foot in order to survive, and I probably would have gone about it the same way that he did (in a drug induced state). But…the cannibalism thing is a little much for me, and I think that I would rather starve to death rather than eat myself…but I guess I can’t make that judgment until I’m in the situation (Ewe…did I really just say that…gah).


Nevertheless, I think that I mainly identified with the fact that he was completely focused on his will to live.  He was going to do whatever it took for him to survive, and frankly, I find that quite admirable.  I’ve been tested a lot in my life, and put in a lot of difficult situations, but I have always come out strong, and I think that we def. have our strong drives in common.   

Analysis on The Brood: 'Going all the way through it to the end'

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Rather than dissecting and doing an analysis on the entire article, I wanted to focus on a a specific section that really interested me and caught my eye: Nola the monster. Since I thought her battle of humanity was the highlight of the film, it seems only proper to but an emphasis on it when I make my concluding statement.

At the end, when we see the psychosis of Nola fading in and out- going from sanity to monstrosity- we are questioning whether or not she is even human anymore.  She has that evil, sinister smirk on her face as if she has welcomed malice into her life, and at this, she even makes reference to the fact that she knows her rage is killing these people and doesn't care. Even the focus on her face alone, is enough to show the viewers the monster in Nola.  Very creepy. But the best and concluding part was when Nola lifted up her nightgown and revealed her true self.  Viewers saw the exposed external womb, watched her bite into it and seep out the blood, and even saw her lick the infant clean--almost an animalistic trait...def. not humane.

The quote that really stuck with me after reading the article was: "Her knowledge and violation of the brood's violent acts -now her violent acts- suddenly appear for the first time and finally de-complexify her, deprive her of her humanity, make her a monster. And now that she is a monster Frank can strangle her- an act that , however much of the narrative tries to qualify it differently, takes on overtones of a sex murder in this arena of femaleness and abjection.  Nola's 'Kill me, kill me' even for a moment conjures up the terms of a sadomasochistic sex murder, where the females invites the male's sadistic desire: A theme that will rise into prominence in the films beginning with Videodrome."
---> This was really cool to read because it introduced gender issues as well as sexual issues within the movie itself.  One can def. see a transgression of female power vs. male dominance within the movie, and I think it's pretty cool that even thought Nola dies at the... that she had the most power throughout the movie.  She brought the broodlings to life, she channeled her rage into the murder of family members/threats to her, and she even had controlled of her death....begging her husband to kill her.  Talk about a feminist perspective of power! Wow

The Brood: Let's go on this journey together

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Oh Psychoplasmics... gotta love it.

I'll be very honest with the fact that I have mixed feelings about this film.  Overall, it's not something that I would probably watch again for amusement, but it does tie in well with the genre of psychological horror.  So I guess what I'm saying is that I respect it in the genre, but not as a 'hey I loved this movie' type of flick.

I thought that it was rather boring until the end of the movie, and it just seemed to take such a long time to get into the actual plot for me. I wasn't crazy about the murders, and I thought the children were an odd representation of her rage, and the ending just kind of threw me off because it seemed like if the beginning was re-done that it would actually be a pretty good horror film.

I will admit that when I first saw the ending scene when Nola invites us along on her journey... I had to pick my jaw off of the floor.  The movie was just so slow to me and then all of a sudden BAM! Child in the womb...bumps on the body...Ripping through the amniotic sack...licking the blood off the child... WICKED SWEET.  The movie totally had my interest now.  I actually wanted to gag a little so Cronenberg won my respect there.  I really did love the last two scenes... I thought the murder of the doctor was better than the previous ones but that was probably because there were like 20 broodlings attacking him + the addition of him shooting them in the head. Good form. 

That was my impression the first time I watched it.

Watching The Brood again proved to tie up a few loose ends, and I was able to pay more attention to character growth, and the growth of conflict. When I watched it the first time, it seemed that the murders were so random and off the wall....probably because I didn't immediately connect Nola's anger to them.  But the second time through, it honestly made the plot a LOT better for me, and I could feel the (psychological) horror at its best.  The only thing that I wish was different was that the children had a more distinct or recognizable feature to them:  I liked the description on them when they were in the coroner's office (that was wicked cool and I think Cronenberg did a really good job with the visual aspect of them), but I feel like it might have been creepier if they resembled a warped version of Candice or something.  Since Candice really is the main focus of the conflict, it would be really freaky if she also resembled the killers in appearance as well.  I mean, still keep the deformed look and the outfits and what not...just change the face around a little.  I don't know, that's just me ha-ha.

I have to give props to the very ending of the movie when they zoomed in on Candice's face.  I loved the shock of horror that they showed, as well as the psychological and emotional trauma that she is going through.  AND THEN when they zoomed in on her arm and showed the bumps...Brilliant! What a way to end the movie...showing that she inherited her mother's 'disease' and that she can be the next product of eevvviiillll.  AH  I loved it!!!!!

Psycho: A Sexual Transgression

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Favorite Quotes:

"Norman embodies the fear of one who pushes the button blindly, bringing about random destruction of innocent victims." -Cindy Hendershot, "Taboo and Transgression in The Bad Seed, The Fly, and Psycho"

"Following is Gothic predecessors, it expresses the most serious of transgressions-murder, necrophilia, incest- highlighting the taboo that prohibits such activities" -Cindy Hendershot

"Hitchcock deliberately cast a pall of secrecy over the filming of Psycho." -Cindy Hendershot

This week has been crazy busy for me, so I decided to do some not mandatory reading to chill out and relax.  So I decided to pull out Hendershot's article for some light readings, not expected to be so enthralled by her findings.  As I have mentioned before, I have always loved Psycho so when I found out that I had the opportunity to study it... I was really excited.  Then, after reading this article, I realized how much I missed without really reading in between the lines.   Apparently, I passed over the entire premise of sexual tension and erotic psychosis.  I guess I was too pent up about Norman have a triply-split-personality!

The first time I read/watched Psycho, I never really paused to think about the time frame that it was written in. Reading this article really put things in perspective for me, as to how sexuality and erotica were viewed back in 50s.  Talk about how things have changed! I personally found it really interesting that Hitchcock hired a nude model for a stand-in for Marion. It was like he was taunting the culture: he was very secretive, didn't put a lot of emphasis on the film, but yet...he almost announces to the world-- HEY! NUDE MODEL IN THE MOVIE! I love how he managed to subtly drag people in...very clever.

EX:
-------->"I think Hitch Deliberately hired the model partly to plant the seed in people's
 minds that this picture had nudity.  He had started to manipulate the audiences
 before the film was even in a theater.  He teased the pros, the nonpros, the sophisticated, and the naive."  Janet Leigh

To go a little more in depth on the notion of sexual transgression and erotica, I wanted to talk a little about some of the finer points on the argument that I honestly never would have thought anything of, unless I read this piece.  Hendershot mentions each character's desire/sacrifice that they made/were in the process of making towards their infatuation/lover.  Now as I was reading and paying attention to the relationship between Sam and Marion, I did notice that Sam didn't seem to be as involved as Marion did... I mean he passionately kiss Lilia for god's sake! But something I didn't notice at first was the frustration that Marion was really feeling towards Same.  For instance, Hendershot writes, "Marion's love for Sam has caused her to sacrifice her virginity to him, and her frustration stems from the fact that he postpones marriage."  Now on that note, we have to remember the time frame that we are in.  In the 50s, even the thought of premarital sex was unquestionably wrong, and if a girl was doing it, it was as if they were wearing the scarlet letter. So Marion is really in a position here where she has given her heart to the man she loves...just it doesn't seem as if he is really all that grateful.
------> Another quick quote to further develop this point is that Hendershot even comments on Marion's need to be with same in a sexually perverse way. She brings to our attention the scene in which Marion is told that she needs a vacation from her job and in response she says "I'm going to spend this weekend in bed."  Hendershot claims that this erotic fantasy/need is put into play by her want for Sam, and even after she steals the money and gets to the hotel...she places it on the bed as well.  At first I thought this was pretty ironic, but the more I think about it, it truly does make sense.  I mean, the movie starts out with sex, proceeds to Norman peeping on Marion, and then leads to the murders based on his mother's anger with Norman's friends. Suddenly, the idea of sexual transgression doesn't seem so foreign to me.

THEN the part that I found most intriguing and awfully interesting was her views on Norman's mother.  I NEVER would have thought of something like this, so I thought it was a really cool read.  I viewed Mrs. Bates as a (no pun intended) psycho who was simply nuts and killed because she didn't want Norman being close to anyone but her.  That was my first impression.  Now, I might have a slightly reformed viewpoint on dear Mrs. Bates.  Here are the finer points of Hendershot's argument taken directly from the article:
  • "Norman attains his fusion with Mrs. Bates only after her death; Marion also hideously achieves her desired fusion with Same after death (29)."
  • "...Mrs. Bates emerges as a woman very much like Marion Crane, a woman who followed her erotic desire to the point of death itself.  The Bates's house suggests a woman enmeshed in the erotic.  The physical sign of Mrs. Bates apart form her corpse is the heavy indentation in her bed.  The sign she has left behind is the sign of her intense and transgressive desire for a married man (29)."
Now after reading this, it was like a light-bulb went on in my head.  I wondered why they would make the indentation so noticeable in the movie, and at first I kind of thought that they were just trying to really show the personality splits of Norman (showing how intense they were, and how far he was willing to go with them).  But now that I think back about Mrs. Bates and her boyfriend's death... it does make sense.  It's almost as if they left an unnoticeable stain on the bedroom with their passion for one another.  By Bloch creating a heavy indent in the bed, it shows us two sides to the persona of Norman Bates:  the jealous son and the raving madman. To him, everything involved with sex or erotica has lead to death, or bad fortune...so naturally he would a darker viewpoint on it (even though he is technically unaware).Great article. I'm very tempted to watch the other movies mentioned now!

How badly does the patient want to survive?

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"Now I understand.  Several times I've come close to ripping the shirt bandage off the stump and scratching at it, digging my fingers into the soft raw flesh, pulling out the rough stitches, letting the blood gout onto the sand, anything, anything, to be rid of that maddening horrible itch." - Stephen King, Survivor Type
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I have always been a fan of Stephen King, and reading this short story pretty much reminded me why I started to read him in the first place-- he's nuts! but in the most beautifully, grotesque kind of way.  He isn't afraid to sink to the darkest places of psychological horror, and he aims to show us the unusual, and unthinkable.  This was my first time reading this story, and I'll admit that I never really get queasy when reading horror fiction...but this one actually got me.  Kudos to you Stephen King.  Job well done!

I really liked the set up of the story, and how it immediately started off with the question "How badly does the patient want to survive?" The format/structure of the story was really interesting to me, as a writer, because of the transgression it made as one continued to read. His entries started out rather formal, with complete sentences, finished thoughts, etc.  and then towards the end, we saw a different man with rash thoughts, incomplete/fragmented sentences, insane raving...etc.   It was really interesting how we could see the breakdown of his mind just through his sentence structure.  I know my favorite King technique is when he does something like this:

100, 99, 98, 87, 86, 95, 94
God God God

It shows how the character is so out of it, that he really is just blurting out his thoughts in no particular order.  It's like we're inside his head, and are just hearing the unedited version of his thoughts. Love it.

I also enjoyed learning his history in the beginning because it was interesting to see how his views, actions, etc. changed as he spent more time on the island.  I mean there was such an emphasis on his hands, and important they were and the need the protect, and then at the end for him to just cut them and eat them up as ladyfingers... wow.  Talk about being desperate and having that will to survive.

Another thing that stood out to be, was how inhuman he came.  Now when I started reading this story, I immediately wasn't found of the character.  He seemed very cocky, conceited and heartless, and frankly we really got to see this when he was stalking the seagulls.  I know at one point, when he caught one in an attempt, he said "If I catch another one tomorrow, I'll torture it.  I let this one off too easily.  Even as I write, I am able to glance down at this severed head on the sand.  It's black eyes, even with the death glaze on them, seem to be mocking me.  Do gulls have brains in any quantity?  Are the edible?"  I mean right there we  see that he wants to torture something for his own pleasure to act out on his frustration.  I think later in the story he even mentions something along the lines of clawing out its eyes?  Wow.  Serial Killer in the making if you ask me.  Thank god he'll probably never get off that island.

I liked that he broke a lot of his own rules in the story: he ate his fingers, mutilated/ate his own body, and started using heroin.  It shows how fragile ones psychosis really is, and frankly that's terrifying.   I could never imagine being in a position that that, and having to/doing what this man did to himself.  It's almost inconceivable to me. I mean in SAW when I saw the doctor cut off his ankle, I def. shuddered, but to personally cut it off AND eat it... wow.  Jigsaw doesn't seem quite as badass anymore; he has nothing on King.

One more note on his eating habits.  I really thought the imagery of him anticipating his 'operations' was GREAT. I liked that he kept comparing his flesh to "cold roast beef" and really applying the senses when he said he drooled as he was amputating parts of his body.  The fact that he is salivating over his own flesh and blood is so sick, and so disgusting that it is one of the creepiest gross out factor I've read.  Wonderful! I loved it!

Bravo Stephen King.  You've won my respect yet again!

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The Cancer Never Stops

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"She's going to die, but... but...how long is it going to take?"

David B. Silva's piece entitled The Calling was such a great short story.  I'll admit that when I was finished reading it, I was surprised at how much of an impact a short, six page story could have one me; I was upset, creeped out, in suspense, and frankly, I felt like I died a little along with the mother as the piece flowed.  I really have to admire a writer that can create all of those emotions in just six pages.  Great work.

I enjoyed the fact that he was somewhat blunt in the beginning by telling us that cancer was the main focus of the article.  What I liked even more, was the setting and tone that Silva created for us: he showed us the small details of the room that made it appear like a hospital, he used long, drawn out sentences to make us ponder the situation and really see/feel what was going on in the scene, and he also uses medical jargon in regards to the pills, medicines, etc. that Blair's mother has to take.  It really sets the dreary, depressing tone for the story. 

I was very shocked when Blair stated " An ugly thought comes to mind: why...doesn't she succumb?  Why hasn't she died by now?"  My jaw had to drop down to the ground.  I couldn't believe that he was talking about his mother this way! Talk about being blunt and straight to the point. But I think this was a necessary detail to put into the story because we can see how much he regrets his thoughts at the end of the story.  It really is true-- you never know what you have until it's gone.

I liked the repetition at the end with the whistle and her positioning on the bed.  Earlier in the story, Blair compares her to a butterfly and says "Five feet, seven inches and not quite ninety pounds.  The covers are pulled back slightly, her nightgown is unbuttoned and the outline of her ribs resembles a relief map."  It's ironic how his vision of her changes at the end when she appears to be wearing a death mask, crouched in this same position.

I really felt a lot of sympathy for the mother, because she tried so hard not to be a burden to her son, and no matter what she did, it seemed like her son started to hate her more and more.  It was obvious that he was lying through his teeth when he helped her, and I think that was why she always cried so much.  Not so much from the physical pain she was in, but rather from the emotional pain.

BUT...even though I personally feel this way as a reader... I think that as a writer this was a great tactic for the piece.  Silva used a very direct, blunt, realistic approach to helping someone with cancer, and shows us the wicked, selfish side of humanity. I mean, we can love someone so much...so very very much... but now matter how much that is...when you take care of someone every minute of every single day, you start to get sick of it.  I think it's a little rash that Blair was counting down the minutes to her death, but you get the picture.  I think it also made of connect more with the mother, thus having a stronger connection to the story.  Great mindset...I'm going to have to remember that one.




Psycho: The Serial Killer Template

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To me, Psycho has always been a great template for the serial killer story in popular culture because it encompasses all the psychosomatic characteristics of the deranged mind paired with a depleted stream of consciousness. Beyond the basis of a great thriller, we also get to witness sub textual references of sexuality, gender bias, and a beautiful three personality spilt (disassociated identity disorder).  Combine that with a wicked shower stabbing, drunken stupors, and the creepy childlike persona of Norman Bates, and you’re guaranteed a model towards the typical horror genre plot.

 

In order to brainstorm an outline for an intellectual killer, not only does he need a motive, but a well developed background story as well.  Normally in the pieces that I have read/watched, the killer almost always has a reason for what he does…regardless if it was a tempestuous childhood, pyromaniac habits, or something of the sort, the past story helps make the character, thus turning him into what he is today.  More often than never, the killer has a favored weapon/killing technique that he prefers to use on his victims; in Psycho we have the (butcher) knife, and the typical over the shoulder stab.  While in the book Norman (mom) switches to the razor at one point, it is still relevant to the knife, and still a similar technique.

 

Personally, to me the background story is what makes Psycho a memorable story, especially since we only get pieces of it as we go through the account. When I first watched the film (since I didn’t read the book till this semester) I was shocked to find his mother in the cellar, and even more disturbed when I found that he killed his mother/her boyfriend, forged the suicide note, and robbed her grave to try and return to a normal life.  The only thing that I think would have made it better for me is if they gave more detail to what he was like when he first entered the hospital after his mother’s death.  Seeing how his mind is now…I would be curious to take a look into his subconscious before he took over the persona of his mother. 

 

Going further into the background story, it is vital that we know how dominant his mother was to him after his father left, and even more important that he was never technically able to be a child. He grows up hating the opposite sex because he has seen what marriage has done to his mother, and also develops an intense hatred towards women in general based on how his mother treated him—an infantile child, who would never amount to anything on his on—the typical momma’s boy.  To Norman, this distinguished any amount of man hood that he had left…and I think that has a lot to do with his murdering tendencies.  Think about it.  He kills women because he can overpower them, and is put off my their seductress abilities over men.  By dominating women and reclaiming his manhood, he is able to grow up and be the man that his mother said that he could not be.

 

But to me, that isn’t what makes Psycho stand out in the horror genre.  I mean so far it’s your typical angry individual lashing out on the weaker person to overrule a personal vendetta of his past. What makes Bloch’s story work is the fact that the protagonist (if you want to call him that) doesn’t know how dangerous he really is.  He is caught between three people, each of which has a different personality, different motive, and different style. In other words, one drinks because he can’t accept who he has let himself become, while the other stays silent yet deadly, and then finally cradles back into his childhood.  The three personality split is genius because it allows Norman to become different people, while being oblivious to his insane nature.  The ending is beautifully done because the mother completely takes over Norman, proving that he could never be a man because he relied too much on his mother.  Truly superb work.  If that doesn’t scream serial killer template…than I don’t know what does.

The (P)sychoanalytic (P)sychosis (P)ertaining to (P)sycho

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"Psychoanalytically, though, Psycho is less a story of the disintegration of a personality than one of a massive attempt by the psyche to reseal itself; and, of course, it could be said that in this sense it depicts a successful strategy of the unconscious." - David Punter

Today I read an article titled "Robert Bloch's Psycho: Some Pathological Contexts" by David Punter and wow!  What an incredible analysis to detail and mentality.  It truly does help you see the novel/book from an entirely different perspective, and also clears up a lot about our dear Norman Bates.

Without going into an enormous amount of details and speculations, I (for once) wanted to only point out a couple of things in the article that I found really interesting.  If you want the full effect of it though, I highly recommend reading the article.

First off, I found it interesting that Norman takes on the feminine contours of a woman to feel loved and hide his true feelings.  I mean I think we all were surprised to find Norman dressed in drag at the end with a knife in his hand...so what gives?  Punter says that Norman had a fragmented view of himself and of society and that to him the clothing, the perfume, the persona etc. was all a way to mask it from his adult side.  He viewed people as fragmented as well, and thus when he peeped in on Mary and saw her breasts, he essentially was set off by the turmoil of his angry, not-much-of-a-nurturer mother, and thus had to deal with his anger through the murder of Mary.  Interesting take if I do say so myself.  Clearly I'm no psychologist so I would go back to the article for the full effect, but this is what it seemed to mean to me.

Secondly, I liked his analysis on Norman's collecting habit: firewood, books, pornography, etc.  By collecting these materials, Punter thinks that he was thus trying to collect himself....you know, bring himself completely together.

Finally, I think it is interesting to Norman women are not longer real people--rather just objects  that can be disposed of and replaced quite easily.  We also see this in Sam, who clearly confuses Lilia for Mary when he kisses her in his shop.  The whole situation is really creepy to me because it shows us that to Norman, death really isn't that final of a thing--he'll just dig you up when he is over it, and go about life like it never happened.  I would be very curious to see what feminist writers would have to say about this!
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Normannn.... Normann BATTEEESSS!

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I was amazed how much different watching Psycho was than reading it. Naturally we expect a great amount of variation between the book version and the movie version, but I was pretty disappointed with the movie now that I have read the book.  It has always ticked me off when directors leave out really small details that they easily could have maneuvered in, or simply change something minuscule, like the number of a hotel room from 6 to 1, just to do it.  I think it really does take a lot out of the value of the movie, because readers are waiting to see the plot come to life, and when it’s not done well, it’s a huge displeasure.  On the other hand, there was a lot of things that I liked in the movie that I think are def. worth talking about, especially in regards to the actual filming, cast selections, etc.  Now I’ve never taken a film class before (despite my many efforts here at SHU), so bare with me when stuff gets technical because I’m not going to pretend like I’m an expert at this stuff. Ha-Ha.

Obviously the movie was in black and white, and to me that has always been the avenue of scary movies.  To me, there is just something about watching an old horror movie that really speaks to me about the genre.  I don’t know if it’s because of the play with color, or the emphasis of shadow, but black and white filming really does it for me in the field.  While this sounds corny, I also like the music choice.  It makes me laugh of course because it is so pronounced, and so loud, but it does help to foreshadow and allude to suspense.

I also enjoyed the fade out technique that they seemed to use a lot.  It works exceptionally well in this circumstance because of the black and white coloration, but I feel that it really takes a spin on leaving the viewer in suspense.  I always looked at it as a timer because it seems to be pushing the plot and trying to get you to figure it out before your surrounded it black—not to mention creating suspense and keeping you in the dark about what’s going on while you don’t see anything.  Very creepy. In addition to that, I also liked the back and forth camera movement that they director used to show emphasis and create suspense and an impending sense of doom.  It went from the character to the object, setting, etc. and then back and forth a few times to really get the viewer to pay attention and draw their own conclusions, which to me, worked very well.

I found it strange that they didn’t really push the rain in the movie, because that seemed like an important element in the book.  For one, it creates conflict for Mary (and they do show it rain, slightly, but now to the downpour extent that we read in the novel), and secondly, it adds to the mood and tone of the plot.  Rain naturally is going to cast a gloomy shadow, but the whole sense of the storm really drives home the scary, insanity, your-not-going-to-make-it-out-alive scenario. 

Moving on towards the character, I’ll admit I’m torn with my overall opinion.  Norman seems very, very childlike when we are introduced to him, which I was pleased to see.  But he def. doesn’t look anything like I pictured him too, and his stutter shows his nervousness while being giddy in general, especially during the questioning.  I found that to contrast with the character that I met in the book.  True, he was nervous at first when questioned about the disappearance of Mary, but in the end, it really pulled it together, and I just didn’t see that in the movie.

To me, he seemed almost static when he seems Mary dead, because he doesn’t really react, which I thought was strange; I almost didn’t see any distinction between his split personality, which upset me. He is very calm when cleaning everything up, like he knew that it was going to be there, and he automatically knew what to do with everything, and it just wasn’t realistic to me.  I also was really bothered by the fact that he didn’t drink at ALL in the movie.  That was so important in the book because it really through the reader off to the reality of what was happening, in addition to giving him an excuse to when the mother took over; I just couldn’t believe that they left that out in the film.  Also, he doesn’t even acknowledge the similarities between Mary and her sister.  It was great casting because the two did look very much alike and I was waiting for Norman to have a distinct oh-my-god-she-is-back-from-the-dead moment when he say her, but alas, he did not. I also think they did a great job casting for the sheriff, both physically, and in the presentation of his personality.

I think what bothered me the most about Norman was the fact that he didn’t have the sense of knowing there was something wrong with him in the movie.  In the novel, he states a couple times that he thinks he is schizophrenic, or hints about there being a prominent psychological issue with him, but in the movie it is almost as if he is completely oblivious to any of that.  I think that really hit the film bad because it took a great deal away from the psychosomatic genre of horror.

Now moving on to dear mother… Oh the craziness.

Honestly, I think you’re lying if you say that you didn’t chuckle at the whole shower scene stabbing.  It was jagged and well pathetic from the murders we see in films today and it really shows you have far we have come technologically.  I was quite disappointed, however, that the whole realization of who the mother really was, was quite anticlimactic.  It just seemed like it happened to fast, and that they didn’t spend enough time/effort of the true horror of the situation.

I think that they showed a lot of good portions regarding dear Momma Bates though.  For instance, I liked the part towards the end when Norman is looking out the window as Sam walks up to the motel.  Talk about the irony there, especially since it is normally his mother looking out!  The indent on the bed was also a nice touch, although it seemed a little too dramatic to me.  I mean that indent was really prominent and really in there good- was it realistic?  I’m not so sure. Also, I thought they did I good job with the d├ęcor of the room (very old in its style and decoration) but it seemed like it didn’t fit in with the rest of the house…like it did in the novel. 

Finally, I was surprised at how different some of the details were from the book, and it all seemed to be little things!  Norman put Mary in room 1 instead of 6 (honestly why change that???), and Mary didn’t leave the money in the car, but rather kept it in the room with her.  Now this I can actually understand, because they don’t want the viewer to forget about the money, etc. etc. but still.  The house didn’t look very old school to me, with the exception of the Mother’s room, AND she(/he) killed Arbogast with a knife and not with a razor?  I don’t know if they did this for consistency in the movie (like the killer always uses the same weapon or something) but I was a little mad about that, because I wanted to see some diversity.  Also when that scene occurred, she(/he) def. came from the side to attack, but yet it shows a full on stabbing from the front view of the camera, which totally wouldn’t have happened.  I’m just confused why they shot that part weird.

Then, there is the whole issue with the earring, which was completely left out…and instead changed to a piece of paper (from her balancing her funds) that she dropped on the floor?  I thought that was a lame detail to change, especially in a murder mystery type of movie. The big one that got me though was the mother at the end.  Wasn’t she stuffed in the book???  I mean I like the whole skeleton vibe so much more, but I thought Norman ransacked her body from the coffin and stuffed her to keep her preserved.  I may be wrong on that one…but the movie gets a point there for me.

I was pretty pleased with the very ending, and with the conclusion of the psychological understanding that the viewer got.  I also liked that they took the final quote from the book and played that at the end in a woman’s voice.  It made it that much creepier, and tied everything together.  And we can’t forget that crazy, horrid smile at the end.  Talk about leaving a lasting impression!  GREAT!