Was "Psycho" spoilled for you?

All the hoopla over the new Star Wars movie and the DEMANDS!!! that there be NO SPOILERS!!! (Which kind of gives away that there must be some big “I-am-your-father” size ‘surprise’ twist in it), somehow got me thinking about the idea of classic, well-remembered movies with big plot twists. I was thinking of doing an overall thread about movies that hinge on big spoiler-ific moments. “The Crying Game” for example was a fairly run-of-the-mill thriller with one big twist that made it memorable.

But the one I think is most interesting is that of the grandmamma of all spoiler-ific film moments: the shower scene from Psycho. Of course, it’s part of film-lore history what happens, so it can’t possibly be a surprise to modern-day audiences. But I know that during its original run, theaters took the then-unheard of tactic of not letting anyone into the movie after it had already started. At the time of its release, there was at least a token effort to keep the twist a secret until the audience actually saw it.

Being 50+ years ago, I realize it’s fading into history, but does anybody here recollect when the movie originally came out? How big a surprise was it when Janet Leigh got killed? Did people ‘spoil’ it, or did people not talk about that scene? And when did it become common knowledge that she gets murdered?

I was about eight when Psycho was at the theaters. The local neighborhood theater had a way in, and we often sneaked in to see movies…

We had to walk home in the dark after that!

What? She gets killed? Goddammit!

Seriously, to this day I’ve never actually seen the movie (although I’ve seen clips of the shower scene), so yeah, both that and the twist regarding Norman’s mother have been well and truly spoiled for many years.

I remember when it came out. The hoopla was that no one would be admitted to the theatre after the first half hour. Hitchcock didn’t want people arriving after the first murder and wonder why the female start was nowhere to be seen. People would often arrive late and catch the start in the second show (out family did it all the time, once coming in an hour late).

The concept of spoilers didn’t exist when Psycho was released (it first appeared in the National Lampoon in the early 70s). Psycho did ask the audience not to reveal the ending, and most people went along. And with no Internet, any spoilers would be revealed in conversation, where a listener can tell the person not to continue.

I remember my mum and dad talking about it. All of the above are true. People were very circumspect and did not spoil it for others.

ETA: And when I saw it circa mid-80s I had no idea what was going to happen. I DID see Brian De Palma’s Dressed to Kill before Psycho and did not even know it was sort of a remake.

I didn’t see PSYCHO until I was a teenager, in the late 1970s. I knew about the shower scene – it had been excerpted and featured in documentaries on film and Hitchcock tributes.

But nobody had told me about the…second murder. I rose about three feet out of my seat when those violins started up and Martin Balsam started flailing…

Here are some old ads and publicity pieces from the movie. You’ll see that Hitchcock/Paramount definitely didn’t want spoilers (complete with Hitchcok’s line, “If you can’t keep a secret. . .”)

Some of that was undoubtedly simple marketing hype (anyone who had read the novel knew what would happen), but some of it was undoubetdly legitimately not wanting to spoil a good thriller.

The trailer is well worth seeing. Hitch gives nothing away, but there are lots of in-jokes for the folks who’ve already seen it.


I was a teenager when I saw *Psycho *in its original run. It was actually the part about Norman’s mother that was more shocking to me than the murders. But I did refrain from discussing the details of the movie with people who hadn’t seen it. That, and not taking showers for a while.

I didn’t see Psycho until somewhere around 1972. I saw it in a cinema, a very crowded cinema, and although I am a great viewer of movies I hadn’t had it spoiled.

I was telling young people at work recently what movie watching was like when I was young and they found it hard to believe.

No VCRs or DVDs so once its movie run ended it could only be caught on TV. I did see several at movie clubs and at the university but they were not in most people’s social scene.
Only a couple of TV stations that showed movies, mostly late at night.
No internet for discussion/history. Once it’s not showing good luck finding out anything about it other than from books.

If you look through IMDB ratings you will come across many classic movies from before the mid 70s with very few ratings. I can recall lots of movies that I had seen that not a single person I knew had even seemed to have heard of. The Producers was one and the same year Charly and Alan Bates in Frankenheimer’s The Fixer has 871 votes, including mine.

I was about 8 when I saw Psycho on video for the first time, so no. I don’t have any recollection of having previous knowledge.

Yeah, it was spoiled for me by Ralph Malph in an episode of “Happy Days.” To be fair, I was born in 1969 so having the big twist spoiled by the time I saw the movie in 1988 was pretty inevitable. But nobody ever mentioned Mr. Arbogast’s murder – that one was a surprise!

Saw it at the drive-in when I was 18 (1969). Hadn’t heard any details, only that it was scary/shocking. My pal, who had seen it, played me like a fiddle getting me properly nervous and anxious about the experience that was in store for me.
It worked. I was a nervous, twitchy wreck the whole time, and loved it. Still the only Hitchcock that has held up for me.

***Psycho’s ***quite unusual, even by today’s standards, in that it has three genuine twists (switching from a heist movie to a horror/proto-slasher movie; killing the marquee actress so early in the movie; and the issue with NB’s mother), but because none of them are like the modern day ‘clever twists’, which are ruined by knowing about them, they’re not gimmicks, but plot developments. Out of the three, it’s the second that I’d most love to experience without expecting it, but it’s now become a trope, if not a cliche, of film.

I hadn’t been spoiled until this thread, and only because I didn’t care.

And people were big about spoilers even before the movie came out. I still assume there is no big spoiler–at least, no bigger than any other spoiler would be for a movie I might eventually be interested in.

I was, of course, spoiled for The Empire Strikes Back.

I saw it when I was around fifteen. This was back before the internet. Even though the movie was over a decade old at that point, I had no idea what was in it.

It wasn’t spoiled for me, and I made sure to show it to my kids before it could be spoiled for them. Blew their little minds. :slight_smile:

I saw it on TV in the 70s. I had heard some things about it before then but didn’t pick up on the ending. I think I had to take a break after the shower scene.

I first saw it on TV in the late ‘60s, so in the pre-internet age the whole concept of “spoiler” was alien. I remember being as confused as the sheriff: “if you saw Norman’s mother, who’s that buried in the cemetery?” Yeah, who? WTF? What’s goin’ on?

I knew about the murder in the shower and the knifing of the detective on the stairs. Did not stop me from being gobsmacked when I actually saw it for the first time in the early 80’s. :eek: