Film Review: 78/52

Alexandre O. Philippe’s 78/52 is a most entertaining documentary. The film is at its best when focusing on contributors’ reactions to the famous scene.

Writer-director Alexander O. Philippe looks as the iconic shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 classic Psycho. The filmmaker speaks to filmmakers, actors, writers, and those more closely involved in the making of the sequence…


78/52, the title of Philippe’s documentary, refers to the number of set-ups (78) and cuts (52) in one of the most famous scenes in cinematic history. The scene is certainly worthy of a feature-length discussion. For the most part, the documentary does its subject matter justice.

The film starts off by positioning the scene in its socio-historical context. The wider discussion of Alfred Hitchcock does not add much to proceedings. This is particularly the case given many viewers will be fans of the filmmaker. However, Philippe has a point to make in locating the scene in terms of censorship rules and the Hayes Code. Naturally, this facet plays an important role in the way in which the scene was shot.

Philippe talks to a variety of parties in the 78/52. It is interesting to hear the views of various actors and directors. Nevertheless, more insightful are the opinions of editors and composers, given how important these aspects of filmmaking are to the sequence. Also, interviews with Hitchcock’s granddaughter Tere Carrubba, body double Marli Benfro and Jamie Lee Curtis shed invaluable detail. SpectreVision’s Elijah Wood, Daniel Noah, and Josh C. Waller inject fun with their observations, whilst a little less Marco Calavita would have been welcome.

The real meat of the film is the analysis of the actual sequence. Philippe gets most of the participants to watch it and react on screen to various elements. 78/52 focuses on one of the most important examples of editing in film history. And the importance of editing is also key to the documentary. The filmmaker shifts from differing viewpoints in an enthusiastic manner.

Philippe gets the balance right overall in covering the various aspects related to the scene. 78/52 is a great watch for any viewers who have seen Psycho. Die-hard fans may want the film to go into microscopic detail.

78/52 was screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2017, and will be released in UK cinemas on 3rd November 2017.

What to Watch on Shudder: I Vampiri and More

A look at some of the highlights on horror platform Shudder. Here’s what to watch on Shudder this week…

What to Watch on Shudder: I Vampiri

Riccardo Freda and Mario Bava’s I Vampiri (also known as Lust of the Vampire) is an Italian gothic classic. The film combines a detective story with a horror movie. Like many gothic films, the scares do not come thick and fast. However, the wonderful atmosphere and gothic excess make up for this, particularly in later scenes. I Vampiri is about an investigation into a spate of murders of young women. Each of these women are found with the blood drained. Set in Paris, Pierre Lantin is the journalist hot on the trail of the perpetrator. The film combines a modern setting with some classic gothic tropes. Moreover, the visual effects are great for the period.

What to Watch on Shudder: Raze

Josh C. Waller’s Raze offers an enticing premise and a brutal execution. The film is about kidnapped women who are forced into fighting each other for survival. Raze combines a terrifying premise with some fantastic fight sequences. Waller injects a ferociousness to these sequences; the violence is hard to watch at times. He is ably assisted by the skills of actress and stunt woman Zoë Bell (a Quentin Tarantino favourite, and star of Whip It), who plays protagonist Sabrina. There are similarities with The Purge: Anarchy (released the following year), yet Raze is very much its own film.

What to Watch on Shudder: Venefica

Maria Wilson directs, produces and stars in short film Venefica. The film is about a modern-day witch who must complete a ritual to see how her magic will be used. Venefica offers sufficient intrigue and good production values. Maria Wilson’s film is worth eight minutes of your time.

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