by Ashley Jane McClosky
I was a strange kid. While other girls at school had pictures of, like, Usher in their lockers (maybe Usher? I can’t even think of who was popular when I was in high school, I was in such an old dead dude bubble), I was all about Anthony Perkins.
I used to read the TV Guide to see if I could catch him in some movie on at 4:00 AM. I would grab that worn out videocassette in EP mode and set my VCR to record. I’ve seen them all; the good (Friendly Persuasion) the bad (Edge of Sanity), and the ugly (here's looking at you, Crimes of Passion). But like most people, the role that got me hooked was Norman Bates in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho.
The first time I saw Psycho, I was too young. I kept changing the channel nervously because I would get scared, but then I had to switch back with my blanket over my head to find out what was happening. I was helpless. I was terrified for months. There was crying, nightmares, and only baths. I eventually got over it and watched it again when I was 12 or 13 and the timing was right…helloooo Norman.
So, yeah, he had a few “issues,” I guess. And like, murder isn’t cool. And ooookey, he doesn’t look that good in a wig. But other than that? He is basically one of the most beautiful creatures to walk the earth.
Naturally, the next step was to read the book the movie was based on. I was very intrigued by the story of Hitchcock buying all the copies of the book so that the ending wasn’t given away. I tracked that baby down on eBay, paid with a money order from the post office (pre-PayPal days) and couldn’t wait for the book to come in. I was looking forward to reading more about Norman with Perkins in my mind.
This is NOT my Norman Bates! Middle-aged chubby bald pervert?? What? No! Occultist alcoholic?? No! My Norman is the guy that would carry me to bed when I had too much to drink (after a candlelit evening of him playing piano and singing softly) and then bring me black coffee and plain toast in the morning on a tray with a fresh flower in a vase. Is that so much to ask? I can’t even mention the worse stuff.
I was shattered. Stupid book! That’s what I get for reading! I should just stick with movies. They are less of a commitment.
Thank goodness screenwriter Joseph Stefano and Hitchcock made Norman the way he is in the film. You can’t help but feel sorry for him. When he cleans up after his mother and you’re waiting for that car to sink in the swamp and it stops, it is pure panic. Then when it finally is covered and he smiles, we feel relieved. What is wrong with me? I shouldn’t be cheering him on! It’s awful! But it’s Hollywood, where murderers are gorgeous and sympathetic and bring food for a nice young girl who was just hungry after a long trip. He even unknowingly talked her into fixing her mistake! That’s all. Oh, Norman.
There are many instances where people say “the book is better than the movie,” and I’m sure that’s true. However, I’m a cinephile, not a reader. All reading ever did was break my heart.