We are focusing on three classics for our October spooky season, with a spotlight on the role that their haunting architecture had in setting the mood. While there isn’t much that hardcore movie geeks won’t know about these films, here are 15 things that you might not have known about our Hitchcock Halloween Haunted Houses feature classics.
1. Hitchcock insisted that there was no late admittance allowed at showings of Psycho, in order to preserve the twists.
This caused lines outside the cinema of people waiting to see the film, which proved to be excellent publicity.
2. The Bates Mansion and Motel from Psycho were entirely constructed as sets.
Hitchcock couldn’t find the right likeness in existing architecture, so he designed his own buildings. The Bates Mansion is based on a Hopper painting called The House By The Railroad. Both the Bates Mansion and Motel are still standing at Universal Studios in Los Angeles and makes up part of their studio backlot tour.
3. In order to maintain the dark atmosphere of the book, Hitchcock insisted that Rebecca be shot in black and white.
This was despite most large pictures at the time having moved to colour film. Hitchcock made the same choice for Psycho, but this time because he believed colour would be too gory.
4. The Birds head bird trainer, Ray Berwick, stated that he could never release the birds used during filming.
He had individually trained birds to do harm to humans. In fact, for scenes with the birds in the house, the entire house was netted to keep the birds from flying away and attacking people. But don’t worry the ASPCA (American Animal Protection Society) was on set every day and an aviary set up to treat injured birds.
5. Psycho is the first American film to feature a toilet! It's also the first American film in which we hear a toilet being flushed.
6. Because Sir Laurence Olivier wanted his then-girlfriend (later his wife) Vivien Leigh to play the lead role of Rebecca in Rebecca, he treated lead actress Joan Fontaine horribly.
This shook Fontaine up quite a bit and was known on set. When Hitchcock found out he decided to capitalise on this by telling her everyone on the set hated her, thus making her shy and uneasy, just what he wanted from her performance.
7. Due to the success of Rebecca in Spain, the specific jackets that Joan Fontaine wore during the movie began to be known as ‘Rebecas’.
The word ‘rebeca’ is still used nowadays to refer to a cardigan in Spain.
8. Despite Rebecca earning the 1940 Oscar for Best Picture, Hitchcock never won a Best Director Oscar.
Instead he was awarded the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award in 1968. When collecting this honour, he delivered the shortest Oscars acceptance speech in Academy Award history, stating only “Thank you…very much indeed”.
9. Tippi Hedren found her post-attack make-up for The Birds so scary, that when she first looked at herself in a mirror, she went outside and threw up.
10. Hitchcock chose Bodega Bay as the setting for The Birds due to its surrounding bleak treeless hills, quiet fishing harbor and fog.
The famous schoolhouse in the film was the 150-year-old Potter School located five miles south of Bodega Bay. It was selected due to it being vacant at the time of the filming and was said to be haunted. After Alfred Hitchcock’s crew repaired the exterior it was used for several scenes. Today it is a private residence and is sometimes open for tours.
11. Psycho and The Birds are linked! Hitchcock was known for adding easter eggs to his films and Psycho is full of bird references hinting at his next film.
For instance, Marion’s last name is Crane, Norman Bates’s hobby is stuffing birds, and Norman even goes on to say that Marion eats like a bird.
12. Despite scouring most of America, and New England in particular, David O. Selznick, producer of Rebecca, was unable to find a suitable location to represent the iconic Manderley.
Instead, he had to resort to a crafted miniature version of the house, albeit a highly convincing one.
13. The blood used in Psycho is in fact chocolate syrup.
Hitchcock opted for chocolate syrup over fake blood as apparently it showed up much darker in the film.
14. The Birds is the only Hitchcock film to not have a “The End” title card.
A calculated move on his part, Hitchcock wanted the audience to feel that the terror of birds attacking would continue. Instead, when audiences left the film’s UK premiere, they were greeted by the sound of screeching and flapping birds from loudspeakers hidden in the trees outside the cinema to scare them further.
15. Hitchcock received several letters from ophthalmologists who noted that Janet Leigh’s eyes were still contracted during the extreme close-ups after her character’s death.
The pupils of a corpse actually dilate after death. They told Hitchcock he could achieve a proper dead-eye effect by using belladonna drops. Hitchcock did so in all of his later movies.
Can’t wait to spot these details yourself? Which film will you want to see this Halloween? Be sure to check out our full screening of Rebecca on our Hitchcock Haunted House Month page, along with details for our Psycho and The Birds watch parties.
Article written by Amanda Olliek (Bunjil Place Plaza Staff)