Psycho has, somewhat inaccurately, been credited with being the ancestor of what we now call the “slasher” film, despite having virtually nothing in common with modern horror films, in plot, theme or tone. It’s more of a godfather to that genre. At the very least, it gave birth to the horror movie tradition of the audience shouting to the characters on the screen, “Don’t go up those stairs!”
Rather than being a horror film in the traditional sense, Alfred Hitchcock‘s first film of the 1960’s is really a blood-soaked character study and that character is Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), who single-handedly gave “momma’s boys” a bad name for a generation or more.
It is sad and a bit puzzling that, 80 years after the events that inspired this film, the battle is still going on. In 2005, almost six years into the 21st Century, numerous school district all over this country are attempting to insert the dubious concept of intelligent design into biology textbooks. Despite claims that it represents an alternative theory to Charles Darwin’s theories of evolution, the primary intellectual thrust of intelligent design never seems to extend past the same anti-evolutionism that led to the passage of the Butler Act which precipitated the actual Scopes Trial.
Inherit the Wind, both this film and especially the original 1955 play on which it was based, were not meant to give a historical account of the Scopes but rather to use it as an allegory for the Red Scare era. Even so, playwrights Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee used the trial transcript for much of their in court dialogue, so the scenes that focus on the trial itself stay close to the historical record.