An unprecedented look at the iconic shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, the 'Man behind the Curtain', and the screen murder that profoundly changed the course of world cinema.
In 78 setups and 52 cuts, the deliriously choreographed two-minute shower sequence in Psycho ripped apart cinema’s definition of horror. With a shocking combination of exploitation and high art, Alfred Hitchcock upended his own acclaimed narrative structure by violently killing off a heroine a third of the way through his film, without explanation, justification, or higher purpose. Psycho played out like a horrific prank, forcing audiences to recognize that even the most banal domestic spaces were now fair game for unspeakable mayhem. With black-and-white film-geek reverence, director Alexandre O. Philippe breaks down this most notorious and essential scene shot for shot, enlisting the help of film buffs and filmmakers alike—including Guillermo del Toro, Bret Easton Ellis, Karyn Kusama, Eli Roth, and Peter Bogdanovich. 78/52 examines Janet Leigh’s terrified facial expressions and the blink-and-you-miss-it camera work, not just within the context of the film but also with an eye toward America’s changing social mores—revealing how one bloody, chaotic on-screen death killed off chaste cinema and eerily predicted a decade of unprecedented violence and upheaval.
Alexandre O. Philippe
Alexandre O. Philippe holds a master's degree in dramatic writing from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and is creative director of Denver-based Cinema Vertige and Exhibit A Pictures. He has written, directed, and produced numerous award-winning films and documentaries, including The People vs. George Lucas, The Life and Times of Paul the Psychic Octopus, and Doc of the Dead. Philippe is also co-owner and co-creator of Fried Comics.