Psycho (1998) reviews and overview

 
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‘Check in. Relax. Take a shower.’

Psycho is a 1998 American horror-thriller feature film about a young female thief who arrives at the Bates Motel, only to be killed shortly afterwards. The movie is a remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 classic of the same name. Both films are loosely adapted from Robert Bloch‘s 1959 novel of the same name which was turned into a screenplay by Joseph Stefano. The remake follows the original script closely, deviating only to update details to 1998 and to make the murders more explicit.

Directed and co-produced by Gus Van Sant (Good Will Hunting; To Die For; My Own Private Idaho), the Imagine Entertainment production stars Vince Vaughn, Anne Heche, Julianne Moore, Viggo Mortensen, William H. Macy, Robert Forster and Philip Baker Hall.

Reviews [click links to read more]:

“The problem with Gus Van Sant’s Psycho is that it’s a dry academic exercise that never feels like anything other than, well, a dry academic exercise. Van Sant’s much-maligned folly ultimately belongs not in a movie theater or a drive-in but in a fancy pants conceptual art museum in a wing devoted to pretentious experiments in pointlessness.” AV Club

“The film had a talented director and an incredibly talented case. They all had the best intentions and yet the end result was nothing short of a mess. It’s a movie that doesn’t need to exist. It serves no purpose other than just to be something that is there. And that’s too bad.” Bloody Disgusting

“It seems that Vaughn struggled to get into the character during his first few scenes with Heche but then gradually steeped himself within Norman’s psyche. Also quite good are James Remar as the dark-shaded patrolman and Robert Forster as Dr Simon, Norman’s psychiatrist. Van Sant’s version of Psycho has some nice things going for it but it can’t hold a candle to the original.” Blu-ray.com

“If Vaughn had been allowed the leeway to go beyond a mere duplication of Perkins’s performance, he’d undoubtedly have found another way to help us believe Norman’s mother fixation.) The result is a slew of studied, tepid performances from actors who can do much more.” Flick Filosopher

” …there’s definitely a lot to be gained from viewing this as an academic exercise. Director Gus Van Sant knows how pointless it is to try and remake such an acclaimed masterpiece, and he makes a great effort to highlight the futility of the exercise. Before you even see one bit of the performances on display, just watching the opening credits is enough to put you off.” For It is Man’s Number

“Slow, stilted, completely pointless scene-for-scene remake of the Hitchcock classic (with a few awkward new touches to taint its claim as an exact replica.) […] an insult, rather than a tribute, to a landmark film…” Leonard Maltin’s Film Guide

Norman Bates (Vaughn) giggles now, which is the extent of Vaughn’s vaunted “making the character my own.” He’s about as terrifying as a tranquillized dachshund. I can’t tell you they had a decent cast, because that’s just like the old one. I can tell you that Lila Crane is a lesbian, according to Julianne Moore. I can also tell you that it’s still good to see her and Macy, even in a farce like this.” Need Coffee

“Think of this return to Bates Motel as more of a fascinating experiment that’s concerned with how art operates rather than creating actual thrills or shocks. After all, when you know what’s coming, it’s hard to be surprised; but you probably are left asking yourself why you’re bothering anyway, which is what I think the film wants you to do.” Oh, the Horror!

“The lure of an exact remake presents a tremendous challenge. Unfortunately, it was undoubtedly a lot more stimulating for Van Sant and his crew to make Psycho than it is for an audience to watch it. As I indicated above, curiosity is going to be one of the primary reasons why people pay money to see this movie; boredom will be the predominant result.” Reel Views

” …an invaluable experiment in the theory of cinema, because it demonstrates that a shot-by-shot remake is pointless; genius apparently resides between or beneath the shots, or in chemistry that cannot be timed or counted.” Roger Ebert

” …it was such a strange project that it resembled someone dreaming of Psycho after watching it immediately before bed, familiar but far from the real deal, its authenticity drained by what looked surreally false. That it was never going to succeed made it all the more bizarre.” The Spinning Image

“While les hasbian Anne Heche (where’d shego?) is acceptable as Marion and the always lovely Moore is equally fine with being Lila, as is Macy as the detective. Herein lies the blandness of it all – they’re all just fine. Nobody’s gonna win anything for tracing a masterpiece and then painting by numbers.” Vegan Voorhees

Cast and characters:

  • Vince Vaughn … Norman Bates
  • Anne Heche … Marion Crane
  • Julianne Moore … Lila Crane
  • Viggo Mortensen … Sam Loomis
  • William H. Macy … Milton Arbogast
  • Robert Forster … Doctor Simon
  • Philip Baker Hall … Sheriff Chambers
  • Anne Haney … Mrs Chambers
  • Chad Everett … Tom Cassidy
  • Rance Howard … Mr Lowery
  • Rita Wilson … Caroline
  • James Remar … Patrolman
  • James Le Gros … Car Dealer (as James LeGros)
  • Steven Clark Pachosa … Police Guard
  • O.B. Babbs … Mechanic
  • Flea … Bob Summerfield
  • Marjorie Lovett … Woman Customer
  • Ryan Cutrona … Chief of Police
  • Ken Jenkins … District Attorney
  • Roy Brocksmith … Man in Cowboy Hat outside Realty Office (uncredited)
  • Rose Marie … Norma Bates (voice) (uncredited)
  • Gus Van Sant … Man Talking to Man in Cowboy Hat (uncredited)

Technical details:

  • 105 minutes
  • Aspect ratio: 1.85: 1
  • Audio: Dolby Digital | DTS | SDDS

Release:

December 4th 1998

Box office:

Psycho (1998) took $37,170,655 worldwide on a reported budget of $60 million. The 1960 original cost a mere $806,947 and took $50 million at the box office.

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