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14 Crazy Facts About Psycho

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Alfred Hitchcock's immortal horror film Psycho is celebrating its 55th anniversary this year, so it only makes sense that we'd want to celebrate the freaky old flick. While there's not much that hardcore movie geeks don't know about this endlessly lauded, wildly influential film, here are 14 things that you might not have known about this horror classic.

1. HITCHCOCK MAKES HIS CAMEO IN A COWBOY HAT.

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The Master of Suspense was well-known for showing up in each of his movies, and Psycho was no exception: take note of the gentleman standing outside the office building a little over six minutes into the film. Yes, that's Alfred Hitchcock in the cowboy hat.

2. IT WAS GIVEN AN R RATING—A QUARTER-CENTURY AFTER ITS RELEASE.

The film was given an R rating by the MPAA in 1984. Yes, a film released in 1960 is now rated R. (The MPAA ratings system wasn't created until 1968, but they do like to re-rate older films from time to time.)

3. IT'S THE FIRST AMERICAN FILM TO FEATURE A TOILET.

Psycho is the first American film to show a toilet on screen. It's also the first American film in which we hear a toilet being flushed. (That's just how repressed Americans were in the 1950s.)

4. ITS SCORE IS ALL STRINGS.

Despite Hitchcock's early intention to use jazz, Bernard Herrmann's immortal Psycho score contains only stringed instruments.

5. HITCHCOCK FINANCED THE FILM.

Paramount had all sorts of cold feet regarding the project, which prompted Hitchcock to both pay for the film out of his own pocket and forgo his (rather substantial) director's fee in exchange for 60 percent ownership of the film. This highly uncommon arrangement put a whole lot of money in Hitchcock's pocket. (Bad move, Paramount.) Plus the film doesn't even belong to Paramount anymore; it's been a Universal title since 1968.

6. THERE ARE THREE NORMA BATES.

No less than three actresses recorded Norma Bates' dialogue. Their recordings were then mixed together until Hitchcock found the right tone of voice for each particular scene.

7. HITCHCOCK PAID LESS THAN $10,000 FOR THE RIGHTS.

Hitchcock paid $9,000 for the film rights to Robert Bloch's novel, based on a positive review he read in The New York Times. (He also made the bid anonymously, so as to keep the project under wraps for as long as possible.)

8. VISIBLE HOLIDAY DECOR LED TO A DECEMBER SETTING.

At the beginning of the film, the viewer is informed that the movie opens on December 11, which is only because some of the second unit shots (as Marion hightails it out of Phoenix) contain visible Christmas decorations.

9. SAUL BASS' FINGERPRINTS ARE ALL OVER THE MOVIE.

Not only did celebrated title (and poster) artist Saul Bass create the opening credits sequence for Psycho, he also helped out in the storyboard department—most notably for the legendary shower sequence. 

10. THE ENDING WAS SPOILED MONTHS BEFORE THE FILM'S RELEASE.

Despite Hitchcock's fervent and admirable attempts at keeping the project a secret, both Variety and The Hollywood Reporter published very thorough spoilers regarding the Psycho plot months before the film actually came out.

11. HITCHCOCK WOULDN'T LET THE FILM BE SCREENED BEFORE ITS PREMIERE.

The aforementioned media breach led Hitchcock to take even more extreme measures to guard the film's plot—and ending. In addition to withholding the release of any stills from the movie's key scenes, Hitchcock refused to let film critics see the film ahead of time, which may have accounted for some of the movie's less-than-stellar opening weekend reviews. (Although it's safe to say that Hitchcock had the last laugh overall.)

12. LATE MOVIEGOERS WEREN'T ALLOWED IN.

Not only was Hitchcock intent on keeping the film under wraps until the last possible minute—he also instructed theaters to not allow anyone in once the film had started. And they did it!

13. IT WAS HITCHCOCK'S MOST SUCCESSFUL FILM.

Psycho was Alfred Hitchcock's most successful film, financially speaking. It made $32 million at the North American box office during it first theatrical release, off of a production budget of approximately $807,000.

Hitchcock's next biggest hits were Rear Window, which grossed about $27.5 million in 1954, and Notorious, which made approximately $24.5 million in 1946.

14. THE MOVIE EARNED HITCHCOCK HIS FINAL OSCAR NOMINATION.

Psycho marked the fifth and final time that Hitchcock would earn an Oscar nomination for Best Director. (The Academy gave him the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award in 1968.) Yes, you read that right: Alfred Hitchcock never won an Oscar for directing. Let that sink in for a bit.

Additional Sources:
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15 Confusing Plant and Animal Misnomers
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People have always given names to the plants and animals around us. But as our study of the natural world has developed, we've realized that many of these names are wildly inaccurate. In fact, they often have less to say about nature than about the people who did the naming. Here’s a batch of these befuddling names.

1. COMMON NIGHTHAWK

There are two problems with this bird’s name. First, the common nighthawk doesn’t fly at night—it’s active at dawn and dusk. Second, it’s not a hawk. Native to North and South America, it belongs to a group of birds with an even stranger name: Goatsuckers. People used to think that these birds flew into barns at night and drank from the teats of goats. (In fact, they eat insects.)

2. IRISH MOSS

It’s not a moss—it’s a red alga that lives along the rocky shores of the northern Atlantic Ocean. Irish moss and other red algae give us carrageenan, a cheap food thickener that you may have eaten in gummy candies, soy milk, ice cream, veggie hot dogs, and more.

3. FISHER-CAT

Native to North America, the fisher-cat isn’t a cat at all: It’s a cousin of the weasel. It also doesn’t fish. Nobody’s sure where the fisher cat’s name came from. One possibility is that early naturalists confused it with the sea mink, a similar-looking creature that was an expert fisher. But the fisher-cat prefers to eat land animals. In fact, it’s one of the few creatures that can tackle a porcupine.

4. AMERICAN BLUE-EYED GRASS

American blue-eyed grass doesn’t have eyes (which is good, because that would be super creepy). Its blue “eyes” are flowers that peek up at you from a meadow. It’s also not a grass—it’s a member of the iris family.

5. MUDPUPPY

The mudpuppy isn’t a cute, fluffy puppy that scampered into some mud. It’s a big, mucus-covered salamander that spends all of its life underwater. (It’s still adorable, though.) The mudpuppy isn’t the only aquatic salamander with a weird name—there are many more, including the greater siren, the Alabama waterdog, and the world’s most metal amphibian, the hellbender.

6. WINGED DRAGONFISH

This weird creature has other fantastic and inaccurate names: brick seamoth, long-tailed dragonfish, and more. It’s really just a cool-looking fish. Found in the waters off of Asia, it has wing-like fins, and spends its time on the muddy seafloor.

7. NAVAL SHIPWORM

The naval shipworm is not a worm. It’s something much, much weirder: a kind of clam with a long, wormlike body that doesn’t fit in its tiny shell. It uses this modified shell to dig into wood, which it eats. The naval shipworm, and other shipworms, burrow through all sorts of submerged wood—including wooden ships.

8. WHIP SPIDERS

These leggy creatures are not spiders; they’re in a separate scientific family. They also don’t whip anything. Whip spiders have two long legs that look whip-like, but that are used as sense organs—sort of like an insect’s antennae. Despite their intimidating appearance, whip spiders are harmless to humans.

9. VELVET ANTS

A photograph of a velvet ant
Craig Pemberton, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

There are thousands of species of velvet ants … and all are wasps, not ants. These insects have a fuzzy, velvety look. Don’t pat them, though—velvet ants aren’t aggressive, but the females pack a powerful sting.

10. SLOW WORM

The slow worm is not a worm. It’s a legless reptile that lives in parts of Europe and Asia. Though it looks like a snake, it became legless through a totally separate evolutionary path from the one snakes took. It has many traits in common with lizards, such as eyelids and external ear holes.

11. TRAVELER'S PALM

This beautiful tree from Madagascar has been planted in tropical gardens all around the world. It’s not actually a palm, but belongs to a family that includes the bird of paradise flower. In its native home, the traveler’s palm reproduces with the help of lemurs that guzzle its nectar and spread pollen from tree to tree.

12. VAMPIRE SQUID

Drawing of a vampire squid
Carl Chun, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

This deep-sea critter isn’t a squid. It’s the only surviving member of a scientific order that has characteristics of both octopuses and squids. And don’t let the word “vampire” scare you; it only eats bits of falling marine debris (dead stuff, poop, and so on), and it’s only about 11 inches long.

13. MALE FERN & LADY FERN

Early botanists thought that these two ferns belonged to the same species. They figured that the male fern was the male of the species because of its coarse appearance. The lady fern, on the other hand, has lacy fronds and seemed more ladylike. Gender stereotypes aside, male and lady Ferns belong to entirely separate species, and almost all ferns can make both male and female reproductive cells. If ferns start looking manly or womanly to you, maybe you should take a break from botany.

14. TENNESSEE WARBLER

You will never find a single Tennessee warbler nest in Tennessee. This bird breeds mostly in Canada, and spends the winter in Mexico and more southern places. But early ornithologist Alexander Wilson shot one in 1811 in Tennessee during its migration, and the name stuck.

15. CANADA THISTLE

Though it’s found across much of Canada, this spiky plant comes from Europe and Asia. Early European settlers brought Canada thistle seeds to the New World, possibly as accidental hitchhikers in grain shipments. A tough weed, the plant soon spread across the continent, taking root in fields and pushing aside crops. So why does it have this inaccurate name? Americans may have been looking for someone to blame for this plant—so they blamed Canada.

A version of this story originally ran in 2015.

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18 Tea Infusers to Make Teatime More Exciting
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Make steeping tea more fun with these quirky tea infusers.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

1. SOAKING IT UP; $7.49

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That mug of hot water might eventually be a drink for you, but first it’s a hot bath for your new friend, who has special pants filled with tea.

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2. A FLYING TEA BOX; $25.98

There’s no superlaser on this Death Star, just tea.

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3. SPACE STATION; $9.99

astronaut tea infuser
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This astronaut's mission? Orbit the rim of your mug until you're ready to pull the space station diffuser out.

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4. BE REFINED; $12.99

This pipe works best with Earl Grey.

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5. A RIBBITING OPTION; $10.93

This frog hangs on to the side of your mug with a retractable tongue. When the tea is ready, you can put him back on his lily pad.

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6. ‘TEA’ ALL LIVE IN A YELLOW SUBMARINE; $5.95

It’s just like the movie, only with tea instead of Beatles.

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7. SHARK ATTACK; $6.99

shark tea infuser
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This fearsome shark patrols the bottom of your mug waiting for prey. For extra fun, use red tea to look like the end of a feeding frenzy.

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8. PERFECT FOR A RAINY DAY; $12.40

This umbrella’s handle conveniently hooks to the side of your mug.

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9. AN EGGCELLENT INFUSER; $5.75

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Sometimes infusers are called tea eggs, and this one takes the term to a new, literal level.

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10. FOR SQUIRRELY DRINKERS; $8.95

If you’re all right with a rodent dunking its tail into your drink, this is the infuser for you.

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11. HANGING OUT; $12.85

This pug is happy to hang onto your mug and keep you company while you wait for the tea to be ready.

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12. ANOTHER SHARK OPTION; $5.99

If you thought letting that other shark infuser swim around in the deep water of your glass was too scary, this one perches on the edge, too busy comping on your mug to worry about humans.

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13. RUBBER DUCKIE, YOU’RE THE ONE; $8.95

Let this rubber duckie peacefully float in your cup and make teatime lots of fun.

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14. DIVING DEEP; $8.25

This old-timey deep-sea diver comes with an oxygen tank that you can use to pull it out.

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15. MAKE SWEET TEA; $10

This lollipop won't actually make your tea any sweeter, but you can always add some sugar after.

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16. A SEASONAL FAVORITE; $7.67

When Santa comes, give him some tea to go with the cookies.

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17. FLORAL TEA; $14.99

Liven up any cup of tea with this charming flower. When you’re done, you can pop it right back into its pot.

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18. KEEP IT TRADITIONAL; $7.97

If you’re nostalgic for the regular kind of tea bag, you can get reusable silicon ones that look almost the same.

Buy on Amazon.

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