As the nights draw in faster and faster, it’s worth remembering that, 50 years ago, Alfred Hitchcock dreamed up two things that have defined the horror film industry ever since. The first was the film Psycho. The second was a publicity stunt for the film that was so successful that it has come back time and time again, in one form or another, to open other films. Because of its ubiquity, it doesn’t appear to be revolutionary anymore, but it was.
The stunt was simple; Hitchcock simply demanded that the audience be barred from entering the cinema after the film had started. Back then, people tended to wander into the cinema half way through a film and stay for the first reels of the next showing if they liked what they saw.
Cinema owners weren’t happy, but changed their tune rapidly when audiences, thrilling to Hitchcock’s reputation and the demands he put in them, queued around the blocks to see the film in the correct order. The exhibitors soon perked up, too – when the low budget slasher pic turned in a cool $50 million worldwide. Sometimes the stunt really can be as big as the film.