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10. Psycho (1960)

Based on: Psycho, by Robert Bloch (1959)

Chances are, most people who've read the late horror writer Robert Bloch's novel Psycho have done so after watching Alfred Hitchcock's genius-status 1960 film version. Which, if you think about it, isn't all that fair to Bloch; from the rule-breaking implications of its iconic “shower scene” (main characters can get killed 30 minutes into a movie?) to composer Bernard Herrmann's unforgettably eerie score, Hitch's Psycho is one of the greatest movies ever made, horror or not.

But revisiting Bloch's preceding work, it becomes apparent that even Hitchcock at his most average could have trumped the author's novel. An absorbing and quick read, Bloch's Psycho moves so fast that it's difficult to languish on any one moment; the bathroom murder, for instance, which is such a pivotal and delicately orchestrated sequence in Hitchcock's movie, is barely longer than a page.

Furthermore, Norman Bates, the story's central figure, is a pathetic, chubby little man in Bloch's text; as scripted by screenwriter Joseph Stefano's, actor Anthony Perkin's take on Norman is a disarmingly charming guy, before all hell breaks loose.