This simply is one of the greatest films ever, containing one of the greatest scenes ever, the infamous `shower scene'. Hitchcock referred to it as his `first horror film'. It may be far from today's standards of horror following this ever-evolving film medium, but it certainly is a gruesome story. Anthony Perkins impeccably performs the role of a man who has preserved his mother's corpse for a decade, moving it round the house, dressing in its clothes and mimicking its voice, whilst quietly running the practically deserted motel. Hitchcock's slow-paced and deviously manipulative direction is masterful. The fact that the leading character, the famous Janet Leigh, is killed off less than half way through the film, having been developing a `red-herring' of a plot, is a stroke of brilliance.
Apparently, the choice of filming in black and white was a budget-driven decision (as the film was recorded by the crew for his TV show), but actually creates an eerie addition to the sinister effect. Hitchcock was already accustomed to Bernard Hermann's skill and a screen composer, and his skeleton string score is totally seamless in completing and augmenting the atmosphere Hitchcock created. Again, the lack of a full orchestra was probably an issue with budget, but again adds to the unique genius.
With such films around in 1960 as `Exodus', `Le Trou', `Plein Soleil', `Room at the Top', `Elmer Gantry', `The Apartment' (1961 Oscar), the horror `Peeping Tom', and, of course, `Spartacus', there was heavy competition around. Yet, `Psycho', seems to have gained a status as `the film' of 1960, and is certainly a milestone in the Hitchcock legacy.