New Nightmare and the Art of Meta Horror

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Best Of Best of Movies Featured Scary Movies and Series

The idea of a metafilm has resulted in some brilliant innovations over the years, with plenty of pretentious cinematic offerings to follow. Simply meaning ‘self referencing’ or ‘self-reflective’, meta can apply to many things in the world, though when a filmmaker goes meta, the potential for genius is right at hand. No genre has arguably gotten the most mileage out of this idea than horror. For all its merits, there are plenty of well-trodden conventions to pick at with horror, particularly across the slasher realm where by the mid 80s the cheap-and-cheerful trend had become a by-the-numbers slog, begging to be re-evaluated and poked fun at in the process. There is a fine art to a good meta horror film, though for every Scream there is of course a Scary Movie which, while self-referential (and often hilarious), has stretched beyond meta into parody. This list tries to keep it close, though comedies are by no means excepted.

8 Meta Horror Movies That Define the Genre

From 90’s dream slashers to Whedon’s meta horror masterpiece these 8 meta horror films are perfect examples of what can be done in meta horror.

Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994)

Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994) horror movie poster

Picture it; you’re six films deep into the A Nightmare on Elm Street series and you’re sure Freddy Krueger is gone for good. Then horror maestro Wes Craven decides to up the ante with one of the more original twists on any established horror franchise, and brings Freddy into the real world.

Set apart from other films in the series, New Nightmare portrays Krueger as a fictional villain who begins to terrorize the ‘real-life’ Heather Langenkamp, who played Nancy Thompson from the original series. Heather is plagued by her history working on the Elm Street series, experiencing nightmares, menacing phone calls and traumatic episodes involving her son Dylan. When her husband is killed by mysterious claw marks, she suspects that Freddy himself has found a way into the real world. She visits recognizable figures such as Robert Englund and Wes Craven to try and get to the bottom of the horrific events.

Taking this kind of leap with an established horror villain was bold to say the least. The result could have been an overly campy, self-parodying mess by all accounts, however Craven knew just how to keep things sinister. Robert Englund’s Freddy is far more menacing this time around, swapping goofy lines and comedic runaround for focused and evil kills, while his signature smirk lets you know you’re still watching a Krueger flick, just an altogether nastier one.

Scream (1996)

Scream horror movie poster featuring a hand over a woman's mouth

If New Nightmare was Craven’s warm-up into meta-commentary, then Scream was both his sharp jab at, and celebration of, the entire horror genre. The film that arguably kicked off a whole generation of parodic comedy with the reactionary Scary Movie series, Scream was Craven taking his self-aware buzz to the next level with a brand new property that would become a long running blockbuster series itself.

Scream gave a whole new generation of horror fans something to revere. While some had the likes of Psycho or Halloween to call their generation’s own, now the 90s had Scream. Taking a simple slasher formula involving a group of college teens being picked off by a masked killer, Craven takes every opportunity to flip each slasher trope on its head, all while having his characters spend much of the film discussing the exact tropes he explores. They describe the rules to surviving a horror film while their friends break each rule and are picked off around them. With a very human-feeling villain, an iconic mask, and some stellar performances, Scream manages to be not only a worthy entry into the slasher genre but an intelligent reevaluation of it and a worldwide classic in its own right.

Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)

Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986) meta horror movie poster

This was the point where Director Tom McLoughlin took a good look at the Friday 13th series’ strengths, realised why it was becoming stale and decided to take a less serious, though far more enjoyable approach. The film starts with Tommy Jarvis (Thom Mathews) exhuming Jason’s body to cremate it, in the fear that the maniacal masked killer would arise once more. After impaling the corpse with a metal rod in a fit of rage, the rod is struck with lightning and Tommy’s worst fears are realised.

Jason Lives features the best kills, one of the more likeable casts and more comedy than any other film in the series, and the result is a looser and more exciting affair. With the series’ unexpected, yet greatly effective foray into comedy came constant winks at slasher tropes and jokes like the James Bond gun-barrel opening to Bob Larkin as the graveyard’s groundskeeper, breaking the fourth wall to reprimand the audience for their blood lust. “Why’d they have to go and dig up Jason?” he exclaims directly at the camera. “Some folks have a strange idea of entertainment.”

The Cabin in the Woods (2011)

The Cabin in the Woods (2011) Movie Poster
The Cabin in the Woods (2011)

Written by Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard, and directed by Goddard as his directorial debut, The Cabin in The Woods knocks things up a major notch on the meta-scale by showing awareness of all other horror franchises and attempting to build a lore involving all of them. Created as a commentary on ‘torture-porn’ and popular cabin-based horror outings, the film follows five college students travelling to a recognizably rickety old cabin for a retreat. Instead of shrouding the events in mystery, Whedon and Goddard waste no time in showing us a secret underground facility whose occupants are heavily involved with some unknown ritual. The relation between the cabin and the jarringly juxtaposed technicians of the facility is what truly elevates The Cabin in The Woods from comedy slasher to something far more clever and unique. Comedy elements help elevate the meta-slasher plotline and lean more towards wit than slapstick which avoids the film feeling silly or parodical. Goddard runs through each slasher trope, gleefully providing clever insights into how they would work if engineered by some unseen corporate entity. With a competent and often hilarious cast, top quality CG and practical effects and one of the coolest scenes to ever involve a ‘purge system’ button, The Cabin in The Woods is a meta slasher that even the most discerning horror fans can get behind.

Tucker and Dale vs Evil (2010)

Tucker and Dale vs Evil (2010) meta horror movie poster featuring a man with a chainsaw

While Tucker and Dale is, on its surface, a classic horror-comedy complete with bloody slapstick and hilarious banter from its leads, it is also a sharp deconstruction of the slasher genre, employing a ‘what if’ edge to classic tropes in a similar fashion to TCITW. Highly subversive and knowledgeable in its source material, Tucker and Dale vs Evil plays with the idea of ‘what if those menacing hillbillies were actually really sweet?’, borderline parodying films like Wrong Turn and Hatchet. Full of hilarious misunderstandings leading to violent consequences, Tucker and Dale manages much of its runtime without an actual established villain in place. Thankfully vacuous-teen-fodder coupled with a wholly lovable pair of lead characters make the entire ride a blast.

The Final Girls (2015)

The Final Girls Movie poster featuring a slasher and many women

The Final Girls plays out like the daydream of a horror-obsessed teen, though something in the sincerity of its execution really works. Recently orphaned Max heads to the cinema with her friends to see a horror flick her mother starred in in the 80s. When the group are sucked into the film and find themselves trapped in its horrific world, they must use all of their wits and knowledge of the genre to survive. Taissa Farmiga does a brilliant job of portraying the grieving and confused Max Cartwright who must reunite with a version of her late mother and come to terms with her realities before it is too late. With plenty of light-hearted jabs at 80s slashers, along with comical performances by the likes of Adam Devine and Thomas Middleditch undercutting the heavier themes on show, The Final Girls is a fun meta slasher idea executed with razor precision and gleeful energy.

Resolution (2012)

Resolution 2012 horror movie poster featuring a phantom over a house

Every film Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead make seems to be layered in more self-awareness than one viewer knows what to do with, though their most committed and playful experiment into meta horror filmmaking is by far 2012’s Resolution.

Chris is a drug addict living in a dilapidated shack in the woods. One day his old friend Michael turns up and, deciding to cure Chris of his addiction, handcuffs him to a radiator. From here, viewers with a wide knowledge of horror stories will be mentally skimming their back-catalogues for some idea of what is about to take place. Very few will get anywhere close.

Without spoiling too much, Resolution has one of the more interesting stories of any horror film in that it creates something of a ‘metanarrative’ in itself, meaning that the plot taking place actually becomes sentient and even a character within itself. While variables are thrown into the mix, such as a couple of drug dealers looking for owed money, the plot eventually inverts on itself and boils down to a story’s purest form, as if Charlie Kaufman himself had directed, albeit with a little more restraint.

Funny Games (1997/2007)

Funny Games Horror Movie Poster

Michael Haneke’s 2007 remake of his harrowing 1997 horror/thriller Funny Games is not only one of the most disturbing films ever made, but is also boldly and unabashedly meta. Haneke was bored with the excessive violence he saw in the media and so set about making a brutally violent and otherwise rather pointless film of a family being terrorised by two unassuming men. The film is a commentary on Hollywood’s dependence on gore, featuring several fourth-wall breaks from its two lead antagonists, questions as to why the events are even taking place and an ending that throws the viewers entire experience back in their face. With stark realism and phenomenal acting, particularly from Tim Roth and Niomi Watts as the protective parents, Funny games is to this day a unique cinematic experience, and it is recommended you watch both original and remake.

Night of the Living Dead: Social Commentary in Horror Cinema

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Night of the Living Dead (1968) was hardly the first zombie film—in fact, it was the fortieth, for those of you who like useless trivia facts—but it is possibly the most memorable of the older zombie classics. It’s not hard to see why it has persisted for the last fifty-three years, enduring beyond the renown of such modern zombie sensations, such as The Walking Dead (2010 – Present) and Train to Busan/Busanhaeng (2016). What most modern films and television shows of the horror genre seem to gloss over is their captive audience. Therein lies the opportunity for commentary on the civil rights issues that are still incredibly relevant in the present day.

One notable exception to missed opportunities for commentary being Jordan Peele’s Get Out (2017)—but we can get to that one later. For now, we’ll just focus on the message of Night of the Living Dead. As Tom Gunning explained in his essay, “confrontation rules the cinema of attractions in both the form of its films and their mode of exhibition. The directness of this act of display allows an emphasis on the thrill itself—the immediate reaction of the viewer,” (“An Aesthetic of Astonishment”, 122)—this thrill that we get from controversial messages and images on display within films is one of the main reasons we watch horror. Excitement is king.

They’re coming to get you, Barbara!

Johnny in Night of the Living Dead (1968)
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A line of undead ‘zombies’ walk through a field in the night

What is Night of the Living Dead about?

At face value, this movie is just a story about survivors of a zombie apocalypse stumbling upon one another, clashing personalities, and finally a begrudging combining of forces to fend off the zombie hoard that surrounds the farmhouse that they each found and decided to hunker down in for safety. One by one, these survivors each ends up dying, until we see the last man standing—Ben, emerged cautiously from his secure space in the cellar of the farmhouse to find that police and other volunteers were roaming around, killing the zombies, and reclaiming their land for the safety of the living.

Unfortunately for Ben, these rescuers are less focused on finding survivors and more focused on mindlessly putting down anything they find that moves. While that might simply be interpreted as bad luck for our main character, Romero’s decision for this ending was actually fairly controversial considering the time in which it had been created. Now you might be asking yourself, where does the conversation of civil rights factor into this? Well, buckle up, buttercup—we’re just getting started.

Night of the Living Dead (1968) Movie Poster
Night of the Living Dead (1968) Movie Poster

Controversial Social Commentary

“Curiositas draws the viewer towards unbeautiful sights, such as a mangled corpse, and ‘because of this disease of curiosity monsters and anything out of the ordinary are put on show in our theatres,’” (Gunning, 124). Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1968) gives us these “unbeautiful sights” in spades. Consider the special effects that were available to directors at that time—the glimpses of a woman with her face eaten off at the top of the stairs and zombies ripping flesh off of bones after an unfortunate accidental explosion of the getaway vehicle were the literal encapsulation of this concept. The intangible concepts within this film are the reflections of society and how little progress has been made since 1968.

Ben giving Barbara slippers in Night of the Living Dead
Ben giving Barbara slippers

Freud pinpoints the appeal of the horror story. He begins by discussing the etymological root of the word “uncanny” in German, a word long associated with the horror genre, demonstrating how both the word and its opposite are very close in definition and usage… ‘it may be true that the uncanny [unheimlich] is something which is secretly familiar [heimlich-heimlisch], which has undergone repression and returned from it, and that everything is uncanny fulfills this condition.’ … Freud … hit upon the key to understanding the core of the horror genre. Horror is dissimilar from much of [the] science fiction genre in which the threatening ‘monster’ (often created because of the interference of science or technology)—whether it be alien, atomic mutant, or cyborg—is portrayed as the Other which must be destroyed or controlled by science, often in conjunction with the military/industrial complex, in order to save humanity. Horror tends rather to concentrate on another type of ‘Other,’ an ‘Other’ which is very familiar and because of that much more frightening, an ‘Other’ which is rooted in our psyche, in our fears and obsessions.

James Ursini, pg. 4 of the Introduction in The Horror Film Reader

The Civil Rights Movement

From 1954 to 1968 the Civil Rights Movement empowered Black Americans and their like-minded allies. They battled against systemic racism (or institutionalized racial discrimination), disenfranchisement, and racial segregation within the United States. The brave efforts of civil rights activists and innumerable protesters brought meaningful change to the US, through changes in legislation; these changes ended segregation, voter suppression for Black Americans, as well as discriminatory employment and housing practices.

The Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

There were tragic consequences for two of the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement. With the assassination of Malcolm X on February 21, 1965, and the subsequent assassination of Civil Rights leader and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Martin Luther King Jr. on April 4, 1968. Each of these losses to the movements provoked an emotionally-charged response; looting and riots put even more pressure on President Johnson to push through civil rights laws that still sat undecided.

The Fair Housing Act of 1968

The Fair Housing Act became law on April 11, 1968. It came just days after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.; too little too late, but it prevented housing discrimination based on race, sex, national origin, and religion. It was also the last piece of legislation that was made into law during the civil rights era.

Casting a Black Actor in a Non-Ethnic Role

The way the lead character Ben was written originally with Rudy Ricci. Surprisingly, however, when 31-year-old African American actor Duane Jones auditioned for the part, the decision to cast him was unanimous. Even Rudy Ricci was on board with the change in plans, stating that, “Hey, this [was] the guy that should be Ben.”

Duane Jones—the Anti-Ben

Romero recalled that Jones had been the best option when it came to casting the part of Ben, and remarked that, “if there was a film with a black actor in it, it usually had a racial theme.” He even saw fit to mention that he resisted writing new dialogue for the part just because they had cast a black lead. It was assumed that Jones was the first black actor to be cast in a non-ethnic-specific starring role, but that barrier was broken by Sidney Poitier in 1965.

Interestingly enough, the role of Ben was supposed to be a gruff, crude, yet resourceful trucker. His essence was that of an uneducated or lower class person. On the other hand, Jones happened to be very well-educated, with fluency in several languages, obtained a B.A. at the University of Pittsburgh, and an M.A. at NYU. Jones was the one who flipped the script, improvising through the dialogue to portray his interpretation of Ben as a well-spoken, educated, and capable character. Therefore, as originally written, white Ben was a stereotype whereas Jones turned the character into the antithesis of a stereotypical black ben.

So why was Night of the Living Dead so controversial?

Even though Ben is the protagonist, he was never meant to be the hero—in fact, Ben was supposed to represent just an everyday Joe, who “simply reacted to an irrational situation with strong survival instincts and a competence that, though far from infallible, surpassed that of his five adult companions trapped in that zombie-besieged farmhouse,” (Kane). What we would expect in terms of racially heated arguments, we only witness the palpable tension that displays what goes unsaid. What also may not occur to modern viewers as being controversial, is the portrayal of a black man and a white woman being locked up alone in a house together. Segregation may have begun over a decade prior, but racism doesn’t die overnight just because laws are changed.

The “Final Guy”

The tragic ending of Night of the Living Dead was a commentary on real injustices that were happening at the time, as well as a foreshadowing of an issue that has doggedly limped into the systemic racism of the twenty-first century. The world was facing its end of days. The threat of the undead rising from their graves and feeding off of the living was enough to pull everyone together to stay alive—but racism was still alive and well. Unlike most of his African-American male successors of horror, Ben does not fall victim to the black character stereotype by being the first character to die. Ben makes it to the end—the so-called “final” guy—he was able to save himself when the house was overrun by the living dead. Then, after all of his hardship, he ends up dying at the hands of the gun-toting police officers.

Ben was wielding a gun, he was clearly not a revenant, and the sharpshooter who put one between Ben’s eyes could very obviously see this—his death affected not a soul in that situation, his life in plain language was unworthy of continuing in the eyes of the men who were supposed to serve and protect the living, who instead of seeing a human being, perceived a threat. The ending that Romero’s film allowed to linger in the minds of the audience was controversial because it made people think. It made them look at the social and political issues that were washing over the United States all around them; Romero delivered in that two minutes ending, a message that was unforgettable. It has thusly endured through the culture of horror and has continued to inspire modern horror cinema.

Final Thoughts

If classical Hollywood style is posited as the norm, then filmmaking practices that deviate from it risk becoming seen as “primitive” (such as early cinema) or “excessive” (such as genres where spectacle often seems to trump narrative, including musicals and horror films).

Adam Lowenstein, “Living Dead: Fearful Attractions of Film”

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Interested in watching the full film now that you’ve read this article? Well, you’re in luck—this film is now in the public domain and can be watched online for free.

Work Cited

Gunning, Tom. “An Aesthetic of Astonishment: Early Film and the (In)Credulous Spectator.” Viewing Positions: Ways of Seeing Film, by Linda Williams, Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, NJ, 1995, pp. 114–133.

Lowenstein, Adam. “Living Dead: Fearful Attractions of Film.” Representations, vol. 110, no. 1, 2010, pp. 105–128. JSTOR. Accessed 19 Jan. 2021.

Kane, Joe. “How Casting a Black Actor Changed ‘Night of the Living Dead’.” TheWrap, 1 Sept. 2010.

Harper, Stephen. “Bright Lights Film Journal: Night of the Living Dead.” Bright Lights Film Journal | Night of the Living Dead.

Ursini, James, and Curtis Harrington. “Introduction/Ghoulies and Ghosties.” The Horror Film Reader, by Alain Silver, Limelight Ed., 2006, pp. 3–19.

Nightmare on Elm Street Cameos

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Lifestyle Scary Movies and Series

Who Cameos in the Nightmare on Elm Street Movies?

Nightmare on Elm Street Cameo Appearances By Celebrities 

The Nightmare on Elm Street movies have largely been well funded and filled with talented cast and crew members. Due to the great number of people involved on the project and the many number of sequels, the Nightmare movies are more likely to include cameos than many other films.  The creators of the Nightmare movies have been very careful in how they implement cameos…but they are still found throughout the franchise. Maybe they should have called them Screameos instead? What would Elm Street be without screams and famous actors?

List of Nightmare on Elm Street Cameos

Horror Enthusiast has set on a mission to list all of the cameos in the Freddy Krueger movies. Many famous actors have appeared in horror movies before their careers started. Here is the full list as it stands today for Nightmare on Elm Street.

Robert Shaye

Newline Cinema owner and Nightmare on Elm Street original producer, Robert Shaye lends a voice twice in the film. The audio clip of the news reporting Tina’s death and the voice of the station announcer both belong to Shaye.

Shaye plays an actual character in the second film (which he also produced).  Shaye can be seen as the S&M bartender serving Jesse in the gay bar.

Shaye works his way into a cameo during the fourth film in the franchise A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988) as one of the high school teachers.

Freddy’s Dead, the 6th installment in the franchise, features a Robert Shaye ticket booth operator.  He is responsible for selling bus tickets in cameo!

Shaye cameos as himself in Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (like some of the actual actors from the original film).

Again, Shaye makes his way into another film in Freddy vs Jason (2003), playing Laurie’s high school principal.

Robert Shaye’s Sister

The producer’s sister found herself a cameo in the original Nightmare movie (1984) as a teacher…and again in Wes Craven’s New Nightmare as a nurse.

Johnny Depp

One of the stars of the original Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), Johnny Depp, can be seen in a picture within Kristen’s magazine in the fourth film, A Nightmare on Elm Street4: The Dream Master (1988).  He also has a short cameo appearance in Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991).

Renny Harlin

The director of the fourth film in the franchise, A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988), Renny Harlin, cameo’d as a student in a classroom.

Eric Singer

Famous drummer for a number of bands, including Kiss, Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper and Badlands makes a cameo in A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989) as a band member shown on TV.

Alice Cooper

In Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991), Alice Cooper makes a cameo appearance as the abusive father.

Tom Arnold and Roseanne Barr

These two celebrities can be seen playing the childless couple found about 23 minutes into the 6th movie in the franchise, Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991).

Tuesday Knight

Tuesday Knight Freddy Krueger

Chase’s funeral scene in Wes Craven’s New Nightmare hides a Tuesday Knight cameo.

Rey Mysterio

The famous wrestler made a cameo appearance in Freddy vs Jason (2003) as a guy who does a fantastic jump.

Evangeline Lilly

The girl in the green long-sleeved shirt present in the crowd right under half an hour into Freddy vs Jason (2003), is Evangeline!

…And Almost a Couple Others

Heather Langenkamp played the main protagonist in the original nightmare movie.  She was offered a cameo as a waitress in the latest 2010 remake of Nightmare on Elm Street…but declined the offer.

John Saxon played Heather’s father and the town’s police chief in the first movie, reprising his role in the third film, and then playing himself in A New Nightmare (1994). Saxon was offered a cameo in the 2010 remake as well, but schedule conflicts never let it happen.

Final Cameo Notes

In the many plentiful Nightmare on Elm Street movies, there have been many cameos and celebrity appearances.  There are probably many more cameos which have yet to be discovered. As a horror fan, you are obligated to help! If you find any cameos in any Nightmare on Elm Street movies which you do not see listed here, please comment below!

Novels, Television, and Film Adaptations of Robert Bloch

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Featured Horror Books Horror Mystery and Lore Scary Movies and Series

From the past articles in which we have discussed Robert Bloch and his creative works within the horror genre, we decided to talk a little bit about his most famous novels, especially Psycho, the film that almost overnight made Bloch a writing sensation.

The Scarf (1947)

The Scarf (1947) by Robert Bloch
The Scarf (1947) by Robert Bloch

This novel was originally published twelve years before Bloch’s most famous work, Psycho (1960) and while it was originally published without much publicity and was largely ignored for years, it along with Bloch’s other older works started to receive more notice after Hitchcock adapted Psycho to the big screen. Once Bloch’s work received such critical acclaim, his other less popular works began to gain some popularity as well. These other works tend to still be less popular and while they were all well-written, most were unfortunately as forgettable as they come. The Scarf, despite being one of Bloch’s best novels is somehow still one of his forgotten novels.

When we look at The Scarf we see a story about Daniel Morley, a man who admits to having a fetish for a certain scar he wears all the time. According to our strange narrator, Morley received this scarf as a gift from his high school English teacher; in a strange turn of events, this teacher attempted to rape Morley and whom Morley killed in alleged self-defense.

We eventually see Morley as somewhat of a wandering vagrant, one who commits small crimes to get by—and then also there’s the women he murders with.. the scarf.

Psycho (1959) by Robert Bloch
Psycho (1959) by Robert Bloch

Psycho (1959)

For those who have been, somehow, untouched by Bloch’s infamous novel Psycho (1959) this synopsis might be somewhat of a spoiler—but that doesn’t mean you can get away with not reading the book, watching the movie, or checking out the television series inspired by the original novel!

Within the story proposed by Bloch in this psychological thriller, we meet Norman Bates, a middle-aged bachelor who is mentally dominated by his mother—a puritanical, mean-spirited woman who prevents Norman from having any kind of normal life outside of taking care of her and the motel they run together in the small town of Fairville. Unfortunately, since the state relocated the highway, Norman and his mother have been struggling to maintain their business which at one point had been a fairly busy highway adjacent place for people to stop for the night.

Enter Mary Crane, an impulsive woman who, after stealing $40,000 from one of her real estate clients, is on the run from the law. Mary arrives just when Norman and his mother are in a heated argument and as the situation progresses, Mary is under the impression that Norman’s mother would benefit from a mental hospital. Norman denies that there is anything wrong with her, suggesting that, “we all go a little mad sometimes.” After finishing her dinner with Norman, Mary returns to her room having decided to return the money she stole and face the consequences so she doesn’t end up like Norman and his mother, but in an unforeseen change in circumstance, while Mary is taking a shower, a figure that looks like an old woman ambushes Mary and beheads her for her offenses.

Norman, who had passed out drunk after dinner finds Mary’s bloody corpse and is instantly convinced his mother murdered their customer—briefly considering letting his mother go to prison, he instead decides to get rid of the body and dispose of Mary’s belongings in a swamp before returning to life as usual. Mary’s fiance catches wind of her disappearance through Mary’s sister, who with the help of a private investigator hired by Mary’s employer, begin the search for her together. Arbogast, the private investigator, is eventually led to the Bates Motel where he questions Norman about Mary—Norman of course lies, telling Arbogast that Mary had only stayed for one night and left. Wanting to cover his bases, Arbogast asks to speak with Norman’s mother, but Norman refuses and by doing so, rouses Arbogast’s suspicion. The mystery continues and what awaits those searching for Mary Crane turns into a psychological thriller that goes beyond the standard criminal mind—who could have known that Norman Bates was such a pscyho?

Psycho (1960) Adaptation into Film

Immediately after publishing, Bloch was made an offer for the film rights to the book that put him on the map, it wasn’t until well after the rights were purchased that Bloch found out the person who purchased them was actually Alfred Hitchcock. We discuss more of the surrounding details in our article Robert Bloch: The Man Who Brought Us Psycho.

Psycho (1998) Remake

Bates Motel (2013-2017)

A disturbing and driving force of psychological horror, Carlton Cuse and A&E provided a reimagined version of Bloch’s original creation, having a more in-depth backstory and an interesting narrative and twist on dissociative personality disorder and how the extremes of such could result in such a violent psychological break even from someone who was at first depicted as being so docile and sweet.

Works Cited

Bloch, Robert. Psycho. Blackstone Audio, Inc., 1959.

Bloch, Robert. The Scarf. Dial Press, 1947.

Cuse, Carlton. Bates Motel, A&E, 2013.

Sergio. “THE SCARF (1947 / 1966) by Robert Bloch.” Tipping My Fedora, 13 May 2012, bloodymurder.wordpress.com/2012/04/20/the-scarf-1947-by-robert-bloch/.

Van Sant, Gus, director. Psycho, Universal Pictures, 1998.

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