Orlando Sentinel
SHOW BUSINESS
By Susan G. Strother
Of The Sentinel Staff

Universal turns on chills with 'Psycho'

A driving rain falls on the Bates Motel, the "vacancy" sign flickers and a darkened, two story house stands ominously in the distance.

The audience thinks. "Janet decides to get the road dirt off and take a shower", he says. "That was Janet's mistake."

Welcome to Psycho, the Alfred Hitchcock movie that "drove thousands to sponge baths." The 30-year old film's gritty shower scene is the cornerstone of the Alfred Hitchcock: The Art of Making Movies, one of 15 attractions at Universal Studios Florida.

The show, which cost from $15 million to $20 million to construct and produce, was previewed for the media Thursday. Universal Studios is testing all of its exhibits - and holding sneak previews of some - before its June 7 grand opening.

"We want to capture the terror, romance and suspense" of Psycho, said Peter Alexander, Universal's vice president of shows and rides.

Hitchcock set features Anthony Perkins video

To do that, Universal puts your basic, screaming blond "starlet" in a body stocking - appearantly de rigueur for shower scenes; Leigh wore something similar. The water blasts and the audience is shown how Norman Bates' "Mother" does the young woman in with a butcher knife.

The Hitchcock attraction features a combination of live actors, clips from the original movie and new, explanatory video that stars Perkins, who played psychotic hotelier Bates.

That audience hears tibits about the filming of the horror classic. Chocolate syrup was used for blood in the infamous shower scene because the sweet stuff had better cosistency and color on black and white film. The murderous bathing scene alone took seven days to shoot with a 40-person crew.

"Our early plans for Hitchcock were much smaller", said Susan Lustig, the show's producer. "But we just jumped into the research. We talked to his past art directors, people who were in his films and to his assistants."

The resulting attraction also features clips and memorabilia from other Hitchcock movies including The Birds, Rear Window and Saboteur .

Another replica of the Psycho house is on the Universal lot and is scheduled to be used in the filming of Psycho IV later this year.