Culture Vulture Schmulture – P

In a feature shamelessly “inspired” by The Times‘s Culture Vulture, British Expat brings you the above titled (subtitled “Things you should own, if they’re the sort of thing you might like…”)

When I started this little column, I calculated (with not much difficulty) that it should take six months (we can assume that the alphabet has 26 letters for the purpose of this experiment) to complete. It has been a very enjoyable nine months.

The views expressed here do not reflect those of, MediBroker or any subsidiaries. Hell, they don’t even reflect mine half of the time.

Anyhow, we’re up to “P”, and that can only mean one thing: shrieking violins; a “stunning, if sadistic, two-hour joke” (Geoff Andrew, Time Out); scary shadows in scary windows in scary houses on scary hills (does anyone remember the Funny Bones children’s stories? On a dark, dark hill, on a dark, dark street, in a dark, dark house.), stupid policemen, absolutely no breasts whatsoever (though I still have my personal doubts on that one), bloody plugholes (that is, plugholes that are bloody), lunatics, and showers. Can you guess what it is yet? Actually, that’s many more than one thing. It seems “P” can only mean eight things, plus a few more I couldn’t be bothered to include. If you haven’t guessed what it is, then you haven’t seen it – if you haven’t seen it, hang your head in shame, and don’t let the door hit you on the way out. It’s Psycho – often touted as Hitchcock’s pièce de résistance (though some way behind Rear Window, North By Northwest and Rebecca in my humble estimation. I also like Rope. What’ya gonna do, hang me?).

Released in 1960, after heavy speculation surrounding its censorship (Hitchcock eventually convinced the Board that there weren’t any breasts visible in the shower scene, it was all in their minds – showing the allusiveness of the art direction. Personally, I think he’s pulled a fast one there), Psycho is often said to signify the end of Hollywood’s age of innocence, the brutality of its murders and bucking of classical narrative (Marion Crane, played by Janet Leigh, is dead by the end of the second reel. Oops, I’ve given away the secret. The ship sinks in Titanic as well, you know) can still be seen to have an influence on cinema today.

I hate “horror” films. Comedies can make me laugh (as long as Jim Carrey’s not in sight), and dramas can make me think, but horrors simply never scare me. They don’t serve their purpose so I don’t bother watching them. Psycho still doesn’t “scare” me per se, but I can appreciate how it could have scared audiences at the time – perhaps not today, the glut of schlock-horrors have de-sensitised people to cinema/TV violence. Hitchcock banned theatres from permitting entrance after the film’s commencement. Would that it were so today.

Would that there were thrillers/horrors worthy of such treatment.

I can’t think of anything beginning with “Q” – I have a couple of films (Quadrophenia and Quiz Show), but I don’t want this to get too samey. (Too late?)

Next “Week” – “Q”. Maybe.

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About Atoz

(aka Dave Stock:) the first person in the world to write to, and probably the last to send in his biog. After a few useful one-off contributions, Atoz started his irregular A to Z of cultural icons. At the time of writing this, he's up to "O" - but there's still no sign of the biog. (Update - he still hadn't sent it in by the time he'd reached "Z"!)

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