Frederick's Reviews > Psycho

Psycho by Robert Bloch
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's review
Nov 30, 2007

it was amazing
bookshelves: fiction, bloch-robert
Recommended for: Those interested in pulp fiction, Robert Bloch, or, in Alfred Hitchcock.
Read in July, 2001

As seems to be the case with a lot of books I'm noticing on lately, I'm reminded of Hitchcock. How can one not be, when reading the book which formed the basis for Hitchcock's masterpiece?
I first became aware of Robert Bloch, who wrote this novel, before I was ever aware of PSYCHO. I had been given a book called ALFRED HITCHCOCK'S SPELLBINDERS IN SUSPENSE. My brother had another collection in that series. Hitchcock was his own brand name in the 1960s and several marvelous anthologies of horror stories came out under his stamp. (I think Random House was the publisher. I ought to look it up on Goodreads!) In any case, I was about nine. There was a really scary story in the book called "Yours Sincerely, Jack the Ripper." I'd heard of Jack and had to read it. It was by Robert Bloch. I noticed Bloch's name again when I bought a little paperback on the rack at my local stationary store. The book was NEW WORLDS OF FANTASY TWO, and Robert Bloch had a story in there called "The Movie People," which is one of the five or six most memorable stories I've ever read. It wasn't a horror story, but it would have been eminently worthy of a TWILIGHT ZONE adaptation. I won't give away the plot, but a movie buff, attending a screening of a silent movie in L.A. befriends an old man who was an extra in the movie when it was filmed decades before. The man always points to the screen during a particular crowd scene which shows a woman he met on the set who became his wife. The old man has attended every showing since she died. I wish I could give away the ending. If you want to know what happens, send me a message. And let me know if you have found this story in any anthology. And send it to Ang Lee!
Anyway, I finally bought the novel, PSYCHO a few years ago and read it. Just so you know, the book came first, then the movie. Hitchcock bought the rights as soon as he read the book. I think he found it at an airport. What is intriguing is that, while Hitchcock's movie is extremely close to the book, the tone is different. Hitchcock manages to taunt us with the existence of evil. Bloch manages to be gruesome. But Hitchcock manages to make you question human nature. If PSYCHO hadn't been written, Hitchcock would have FOUND something to express his vision.
But the book is good, standard fiction about the dark side. Robert Bloch was an honest story-teller.
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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Mike (new)

Mike Pirrung Thanks for your i have to find that story The Movie sounds so cool that you said one of the most memorable story's that you read...and there is a Twilight Zone ...i have to find it where a actor is on a soap opera and he believes he is living it..i will let you know when i find it :o)

Mike Pirrung

Frederick Hey, Mike,
The story "The Movie People" can be found in a 1970 collection, edited by Terry Carr, called NEW WORLDS OF FANTASY 2. I found a link to a Sci-Fi site which has, in its turn, a link to a page showing how you can obtain a copy of this out-of-print collection. Check it out:

Williwaw I'm so happy to come across a reference to Hitchcock's anthologies for children. I received "Spellbinders in Suspense" for Christmas when I was a child. It's a first rate production with fantastic illustrations. A few years ago I found a copy on ABE. It's as good as I remembered -- perhaps I appreciate it even more as an adult. For a presumably complete bibliography of Bloch's work, I recommend ISFDB: movie people

Frederick Williwaw wrote: "I'm so happy to come across a reference to Hitchcock's anthologies for children. I received "Spellbinders in Suspense" for Christmas when I was a child. It's a first rate production with fantasti..."
I will check that out. By the way, one of the cable networks is currently showing Hitchcock's hour-long TV episodes. The show was THE ALFRED HITCHCOCK HOUR, and has graphics in the credits similar to the type of artwork used for the covers of his anthologies. I've hitherto only seen ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS, but this show is similar, just a bit more detailed. He was clearly working out ideas for his movies here.

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