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Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Stars: Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles, Martin Balsam, John Gavin, John McIntire
Slasher films, more so than any other kind of horror, are prime targets for misogyny labels. Save for a select few examples, the stalk-and-butcher lane is one mostly populated by filmmakers whose sole concerns are casting beautiful women, having some of those women disrobe (whether in the shower or during a sex scene), and then staging elaborate, blood-soaked murders that leave the female characters slaughtered. Which, yes, is quite misogynistic. There's no denying that.
But that's only describing the worst, lowest-tier slasher flicks. The great ones—like the grandaddy of them all, Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 adaptation of Robert Bloch's novel Psycho—work on much deeper levels of psychological complexity. The film's central figure, young hotel proprietor/mamas's boy Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), is—Spoiler Alert—a schizophrenic, homicidal maniac who dresses up in women's clothing to kill people. It all stems back to when Norman murdered his mother for spending more time with her new lover than with him. Since offing her, Norman feels tremendous guilt and, in order to keep "mother" alive in his head, he's developed an extra personality through which his inner voice speaks in mother's tone.
That's much different from slasher movies about previously bullied social outcasts enacting their adulthood vengeance by targeting bimbos with huge tits and non-existent personalities. In Psycho, the blame for Norman's problem is placed on those mommy issues, providing another, and perhaps the biggest, reason for critics to call the film misogynistic: It's all the woman's fault. But in Norman's eyes, it truly is her fault.
You're not buying that? Well, remember this: He's a psycho. Killing her triggered his worst mental imbalances, and her voice is always in his thoughts, controlling his actions—stabbing Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) to death in that now-iconic shower, for instance.