The fine line between imitation, homage, and influence in artworks and horror movies isn’t just reflected in the works of today’s filmmakers. In the early 1960s, the now iconic house featured in Alfred Hitchcock’s seminal thriller Psycho was the preeminent site of all things horror. In fact, it still quietly looms on a hillside at Universal Studios California as frightening and distant as ever to the tourists who ride by. And although Hitchcock had done something similar twenty years earlier in Rebecca (1940), using the house as a near character full of anxiety and memory, that film was all about interiority of space and of mind. Psycho, on the other hand, was a full-on exterior explosion, everything on the outside, the lure to a deadly trap.
The slippages again occur here, reaching further back into art history, as the bones for the Psycho house were inspired by and modeled after this 1925 painting, House by the Railroad, by American realist painter Edward Hopper. Not horrific by any means, Hopper’s paintings reveal static moments shared between an architectural space (diner, movie theater, room) and those creatures who inhabit them.
Thanks to the Horror and Architecture (the new-to-me but still-awesome-after-zero-updates-for-two-years blog).
Previous in this series:
- Comparing the 2012 horror film Sinister with Stan Shellabarger’s 2005 performance at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago and Paul McCarthy’s Face, Head, Shoulder Painting – Wall Black Line (1972).
- Looks at the multi-dimensional reflection of the cabin in 2012’s Cabin in the Woods and painter Peter Doig’s mid 1990s cabin series.
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Good article. Thanks.
Yep, I too saw the house at Universal Studios!