Posted in Women Who Wow Wednesday

Marion Crane

Alfred Hitchcock’s cinematic masterpiece Psycho features a rich score written by veteran composer Bernard Herrmann. Just as identifiable as John Williams’ music from Jaws, the piercing violins replicating knife slashes has become a staple trademark in horror movies utilizing the theme’s signature in multiple variations. But the subject of the film’s music is the woman in the shower scene, and the stabbing that goes on as the music repeatedly plays that recognizable theme.

Janet Leigh as Marion Crane
Janet Leigh as Marion Crane

Women Who Wow Wednesday presents Marion Crane, the woman in the Psycho movie who meets with a premature death, shocking audiences in 1960 into an unknown they’ve never had the opportunity to explore.

Played by Janet Leigh, mother to scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis star of the Halloween franchise, the part entailed Leigh to work a full three weeks on set, seven days of which she partook in the infamous shower scene.

The making of the film is a story in itself. Hitchcock declined his usual $250,000 directorial fee for a 60% cut of the box office. He made $15 Million, which adjusted for inflation translates to $150 Million in 2006 dollars. Additionally, to thwart MPAA censors, he had added obvious red herrings to the film in order to confound them into removing the red herrings all the while keeping the objectionable scenes intact.

As for filming of the shower scene, Hitchcock used Bosco chocolate syrup to emulate the blood, since it appears better contrasted in black and white. Some audience members, however, believed they saw red when blood washed down the drain. Of course, this is a physical impossibility for the obvious reason the movie is not in color.

The infamous shower scene.
The infamous shower scene.

Further adding to the list of interesting tidbits, ophthalmologists approached Hitchcock soon after the opening to emphasize a truly dead corpse, as seen in Psycho, should not have contracted pupils but dilated instead. They suggested Hitchcock use belladonna drops to achieve the dead-eye affect in subsequent films, which he did.

Trivia’s all very well and fine, but what does that have to do with Marion Crane? The story goes something like this: Marion steals $40,000 from her employer and goes on the lamb. She changes cars in an effort to thwart discovery by the police and checks into a motel by the side of the highway—the Bates Motel. I’m sure you’ve heard of it.

Owned by Norman Bates and his sick mother, the Bates Motel poses as the scene for the eventual turning point in Marion’s life. Thinking she’d gotten away with robbery, she didn’t think she might have walked into a far worse situation. As the cliché goes, out of the frying pan into the fire. As the movie’s title suggests, someone has to be the psychopath. It’s not Marion.

And this is what makes Marion Crane unique in Horror. Hitchcock purposely gave her top billing, even though she dies halfway through the film. Marion’s death in the shower is the most recognizable scene in movie history. When people talk about Psycho, in the same breath they’re talking about the shower scene. In so doing, culture made Marion Crane a poster child for how a good Horror flick should go.


Have you seen Psycho? If so, what did you think of it?

Posted in Women Who Wow Wednesday

Laurie Strode

For those unfamiliar with the Halloween franchise, one cannot say the name Laurie Strode without saying Michael Myers in the same breath. One, the protagonist. The other, über-antagonist. Women Who Wow Wednesday continues with horror’s scream queen Laurie Strode.

Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode
Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode

When Jamie Lee Curtis accepted the role of Laurie Strode in the 1978 horror classic Halloween, who would have thought she’d become the success she is today. Daughter of Hollywood parents Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh, Curtis’ debut in the film solidified her place in the annals of horror. As a no-nonsense actress with weathered chops to take on any role, she played Laurie Strode straight (just as her mother did playing a victim in the 1960 movie Psycho). The genre had seen too many bad movies with bad actresses who trivialized their roles as victims. Not Curtis. She made sure of that.

Michael Myers was only a young boy when he walked into his parents’ house, grabbed a butcher knife, climbed the stairs to his sister’s room, and slaughtered her in a demonic bloodbath. When he made his way back through the front door that Halloween night, his parents greeted the boy as he still held the knife, his sister’s blood dripping from the blade to the sidewalk.

The authorities committed him to Smith’s Grove Warren County Sanitarium never to see the light of day again.

Michael Myers
Michael Myers

Fifteen years later, Michael Myers escapes the asylum and returns to his hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois. This time, he dawns a mask and a pair of coveralls with the intent to carry out another bloody rampage during the dark festival of Halloween.

Enter Laurie Strode, the teenage babysitter who Michael stalks. That entire day she thinks she sees someone, but doesn’t. He’s there, but isn’t. In her literature class, he appears staring at her from across the street. Then he’s gone. Walking home, he shows up again from behind a hedge. He disappears. From behind a clothesline in the neighbor’s backyard. Vanished.

That evening, while Laurie babysits Tommy Doyle, her friend Annie pops over with her own charge, Lindsey Wallace. She wants Laurie to look after Lindsey so she could go out with her boyfriend. Laurie agrees. After some time, Annie still hadn’t shown up to pick up Lindsey. Laurie heads over to the Wallace’s to see what’s keeping her. What she finds shakes her to the core. Annie’s dead lying under Michael’s sister Judith’s tombstone. So are her other friends Lynda and Bob. Michael killed them and placed the bodies in various areas of the house for Laurie to find. Out of the darkness Michael appears, slices Laurie’s arm causing her to fall down the stairs, snapping her ankle.

This is the part where Laurie Strode the fighter emerges. She limps back to the Doyle house with one thing on her mind: protect the children. Michael follows, crashing through a window prompting Laurie to slip a knitting needle through his neck. Doesn’t faze him. He still comes after her. With the children in tow, they run and hide in a closet upstairs. He hunts them. She unravels a coat hanger and sits silently, hoping he doesn’t find them. He does, and attacks them with a knife. She pokes him in the eye with the hanger. He drops the knife. She grabs the knife and stabs him in the stomach. He collapses.

Believing he’s dead, she instructs the children to leave the house. She does well. He rises and tries to strangle her. Dr. Loomis, Michael’s psychiatrist, bursts into the scene saving Laurie by unloading his weapon into Michael.

Although critics may consider Laurie Strode a victim in this movie, she is nothing but. If anything, she was brave for risking her life for the welfare of the children. She wasn’t afraid to stand up to evil. And that’s what a hero is. Selfless, always thinking about those who can’t defend themselves, and a true believer in good.

Ever see Halloween? What do you think of Laurie Strode?