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“You feel that all psychological explanation is defeated,” said Mr. Morris. “It’s the feeling of being haunted by the inexplicable and the unknown.”

In “Hitchcock,” which is based partly on Stephen Rebello’s book, “Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho,” Mr. Gervasi imagines the director communicating with Gein. A more complex picture of Hitchcock also is seen in the recent HBO film “The Girl,” which shows the making of “The Birds” and Hitchcock’s alleged tormenting of his star actress, Tippi Hedren.

Fearing a negative portrait, the Hitchcock estate didn’t allow the use of “Psycho” footage or dialogue for “Hitchcock.” But the film nevertheless takes pleasure in re-creating and imagining the circumstances of making a film that still transfixes — that in shrill violin notes, shrieked a revolution.

“It was a point in history where we were going from an idealistic, stylized imagination of what America could be, to this very visceral, brutal, violent period where the president is getting killed and people are getting assassinated,” said Mr. Gervasi. “Here we are 52 years later talking about the shock of a film. I mean, that’s a pretty powerful film.”