Who Was Real Norman Bates, The Inspiration Behind ‘Psycho’?

One of the greatest works of Alfred Hitchcock,Psycho‘ is a spin-chilling psychological horror movie released in 1960. The film is praised for its intense camera work, tense atmosphere, impressive acting, and nerve-wreaking climax. This is just the beginning of a slasher genre. The film earned Hitchcock four Academy Awards nominations and recognition even decades after the film’s release. ‘Psycho‘ is based on a 1959 novel of the same name, written by Robert Bloch. But this unsettling story written by Bloch itself was inspired by a real-life serial killer.

Psycho follows Marion Crane, a run secretary who encounters Norman Bates after staying at his family’s motel. Marion was on the run to meet her boyfriend after stealing a large sum of money. While staying at the Bates Motel, Marion was stabbed to death while in the shower. Norman cleaned up the crime scene and later got rid of the evidence, as well as her body. The film later revealed that Norman was the killer and he suffered from multiple personality disorders. Just when you think the movie cannot get any more twisted, it reveals his dead mother’s corpse and how he communicated to her as if she was alive. Norman also impersonates his mother and claims that she urged him to kill women to whom he was attracted.

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Real-Life Serial Killer Who Inspired The ‘Psycho’ Character

As we know, the entire sketch of Norman Bates is inspired by a real-life serial killer. But which psychotic killer inspires Bloch to write a novel and develop an entire franchise of ‘Psycho‘? Well, Ed Gein was the real inspiration for creating the killer character of Norman Bates. There are striking similarities between the real Norman Bates and the reel one.

First, both Gein and Norman carried out their killings in rural areas. They also had oppressive mothers for whom they created shrines, and they each dressed in women’s clothes. Gein was eventually convicted of murdering two women and exhuming a number of bodies from graves. In 1968, Gein was found guilty but due to his mental state, he was put into a psychiatric institution. Well, the movie also ends with Norman in a psychiatric facility.

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How Similar Is The Book To The Film?

There are very few movies that are loyal to their sources, and few disturbing details can be censored as well. Most of the screenplay of ‘Psycho‘ remained loyal to Bloch’s novel in terms of the overall plotline. Most of the screenplay remained loyal to Bloch’s novel in terms of the overall plotline. But Norman’s appearance received a makeover so that a younger actor like Anthony Perkins could portray the central character. Some minor details were cut whereas some notions were expanded such as Marion’s involvement.

The film also trimmed some of the book’s violence because of censorship issues. Like in the novel Marion was beheaded, but in Hitchcock’s adaptation, she was simply stabbed. The book portrays three personalities of Norman Bates (Norman, Norma, and Normal) and also a very disturbing relationship with his mother. But the movie skims off through the other two personalities, and hardly captures the essence of the relationship between the characters. The book helps the reader get a deeper understanding of Norman’s mind, to the point where one can even try to sympathize with him, but due to the lack of depth in the portrayal of the character in the film, the viewers tend to despise Norman Bates.

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