Psycho Filming Locations: Alfred Hitchcock’s legendary low-budget horror movie

Psycho (1960) is an American horror film directed and produced by Alfred Hitchcock and written by Joseph Stefano, based on the novel of the same title written by Robert Bloch. The film is one of the earliest slasher films. Alfred Hitchcock died in 1980 and Universal Pictures produced movie sequels and television series based on Psycho.

The movie shows how Marion meets Norman Bates, a motel owner, and disappears. Thus, her boyfriend Sam Loomis, sister Lila and a private detective try to track her down. Later, it is revealed that Marion was killed and dumped in a swamp by Psycho Norman.

Alfred Hitchcock had budget concerns. Thus, he recruited crew members from his television series, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, to film the black-and-white movie Psycho. Making Psycho was risky because it had a budget of $806,947, although it grossed $50 million at the box-office. Thus surprised the production team with its success. Paramount+ distributed the movie and considered it a failure, but it turned out to be one of Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpieces.

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Psycho filming locations

The movie features a fictional town, Farewall, California. It was underestimated before its release, though it proved everyone wrong after its release. Thus, crew members used Universal Studios Hollywood at 100 Universal City Plaza in Universal City, California, rather than real-life filming locations. The Phoenix skyline and freeway shots were filmed on a Universal Studios backlot soundstage to make it budget-friendly.

Psycho House

Norman Bates lives near the infamous Bates Motel. He has a sick mother who cannot leave the house. Norman makes several rounds from the motel to his mansion and vice versa in the movie.

As with the motel, the production team built the Pisco House in the backlot of Universal Studios, and the interior was filmed on Stage 28. The house still stands in the studio. However, it may be a reworked version of the original.

The Psycho House (Credit: Paramount Pictures, Then and Now Movie Locations)

Barrister’s Palace

The Barrister Palace building in downtown Phoenix, Arizona is now known as the Jefferson Hotel. The exterior of the building has not changed over the years. So Psycho movie buffs will quickly recognize the building.

The opening scene of Psycho was filmed at the Barrister’s Palace building. An aerial shot of the opening scene indicates that it is December 11 (Friday). The latter gives us a peek through the window of a room where Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) and Sam Loomis (John Gavin) get physically close.

Barrister's Palace
Barrister Palace (Credit: 12 News)

Harry Maher Used Car Lot

Harry Maher’s Used Car Lot is the largest MINI Cooper dealer near Universal Studios and on Lankershim Boulevard. The car has undergone many changes. So, it doesn’t look like it did in Psycho (1960).

According to the movie, Marion is questioned by a police officer as he sleeps in his car on the side of the road. However, the officer let go of her and she got into a car.

By then the officer had followed him. Marion goes there to change her car. Malik is disturbed by her as she struggles with her affliction.

Harry Maher Used Car Lot
Harry Maher’s used car lot (Credit: Paramount Pictures, Then and Now Movie Locations)

Bates Motel

Marion swaps her car and drives out of town with the stolen money but can’t go any further due to heavy rain. Thus, she checks into the Bates Motel as Mary Samuels. According to the movie, the motel is owned by Norman Bates. Since the motel is fifteen miles from Farewell, it is empty until Marion checks in.

You won’t find the Bates Motel because the Psycho production team created its interior at Universal Studios for the movie. The existing filming location was filmed at a certain angle to depict the exterior of the Bates Motel. The interior was filmed on Stage 18.

The set attracted many viewers for more than two decades. However, other production teams came and knocked it off in the 1980s. The 50th anniversary of the movie Psycho was celebrated in 2010 after a replica of the interior of the Bates Motel in Nevada was built.

Bates Motel
Bates Motel (Credit: Paramount Pictures)

Falls Lake

Norman kills Marion and drives her into the swamp with his car, watching the car and all the evidence sink. Due to budget constraints, the scene was filmed at Falls Lake near Universal Studios. The lake was created in 1926 for Uncle Tom’s Cabin and later, used for Leave It To Beaver, Psycho, Jaws: The Revenge, True Lies (1994) and more.

Falls Lake
False Lake (Credit: Paramount Pictures, Then and Now Movie Locations, Studio Tour)

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