Psycho-Thriller is a subgenre of the horror family of genres and is closely related to the Suspense Thriller genre, but is usually framed within the tonal trappings of a horror story. Some Psycho-Thrillers also share common plot conventions with the Slasher genre. Unlike other subgenres, Psycho-Thrillers are by and large rooted in "real world" mechanics, which is to say - they contain no elements of the supernatural and the events portrayed in the story, while seemingly fantastic, do not fall outside of the scope of accepted physical reality. Psycho-Thrillers focus on the examination of psychological conditions and how individuals relate to various stimuli. In nearly every case, the story centers around a central protagonist and may also include his or her closest friends and/or family. The protagonist becomes the target of a series of events in which they must overcome great odds in order to survive or maintain their sanity.
One of the most notable literary figures of Psycho-Thriller fiction is Edgar Allan Poe who was active during the mid 19th century and whose works are considered part of the Gothic Horror and American Romance movement. As was a common storytelling technique of the time, Poe's works usually contained a first person point-of-view narrative, which placed otherwise normal individuals into macabre situations. Considered a pioneer of modern-day horror, Poe's works have inspired legions of authors, poets and filmmakers and have been adapted into films, television episodes and plays. During the 1960s, movie director and producer Roger Corman released several movies based on Poe short stories including The Pit and the Pendulum, Premature Burial and The Masque of the Red Death.
Although there have been literally hundreds of movies that fall under the aegis of Psycho-Thriller fiction, no movie stands out more than Alfred Hitchcock's seminal 1960 classic Psycho, which served as a precursor to the Slasher genre which evolved more than a decade later.
A notable example of a Psycho-Thriller film from the 1970s is Fred Walton's 1979 classic When a Stranger Calls, which chronicled the emotional torment of a young babysitter named Jill Johnson who finds herself the target of a mysterious psychopathic killer.