Horror Lit: Psycho

When I came across a copy of Robert Bloch’s Psycho at a Books-A-Million, I picked it up without hesitation. I had wanted to read it since I discovered in April 2018 that the movie was based on a book (see Horror Cinema: Psycho).

Reading it, I was surprised by its gore and violence, especially for a book written in the 1950s. I was expecting it to be more of a slow burn like its movie adaptation. Instead, right from the start, there was gore. Early on, Norman Bates was described as reading books about human sacrifices where drums were made out of human skin. The classic murder scene in the motel shower was more intense than I would have ever imagined.

As a horror writer myself, I aspire to write stories that combine a psychological thrill with true-crime violence, and Psycho turned out to be just that. It was written in a clear and concise style with engaging characters.

After reading the book, I re-watched Hitchcock’s movie version. While much tamer than the book—to be expected for the time it was made in—it was an impressive film adaptation. The biggest difference between the book and film was how Norman Bates looked. In the book, he is described as overweight with thinning hair and rimless glasses, nothing like the tall, slim brunette cast in the movie.

I highly recommend this book to any horror fan.

Book
Bloch, Robert. Psycho, The Overlook Press, Peter Mayer Publishers, Inc., 1959.

Film
Hitchcock, Alfred. Psycho, Paramount Pictures, 1960.

Queen Anne Hotel, San Francisco

Built in 1980, the Queen Anne Hotel was originally one of the most exclusive girls’ boarding schools in the San Francisco area. The headmistress of the school, Miss Mary Lake, allegedly had an affair with James “Slippery Jim” Fair, the Senator who funded the building of the beautiful Victorian mansion. Mary Lake denied the rumors, but it didn’t do her much good. A local newspaper published an article titled “Cupid and Mr. Fair,” and the nasty rumors of the affair continued circulating until Mary’s death.

Since her death, the Queen Anne Hotel has had many owners, from brothel owners to church caretakers, to mysterious secret societies. With such a curious history, it is no surprise the hotel could be haunted – but by whom?

Read more about the Queen Anne Hotel at Wild SF Walking Tours: Is the Queen Anne Hotel in San Francisco Really Haunted?