Director: Gus Van Sant
Notable Cast: Vince Vaughn, Anne Heche, Julianne Moore, William H. Macy, Viggo Mortensen, Robert Forster
I originally saw the 1998 Psycho remake with my
family when we rented it as a new release on VHS. I was a mere 15 years old at
that time and had seen/owned the first 3 Psycho films on VHS. Upon
viewing it, my family found it completely pointless and I remember disliking it
myself. Being a teenager, sometimes your opinion can be influenced by the views
of your family so when I picked up the original Psycho Tetralogy on Blu-ray
(with the snazzy Scream Factory issues), I decided to pull the trigger and
purchase the lambasted Gus Van Sant remake to see if my opinion was still the
same 25 years later. Perhaps I could see the film in a new light through the
filter of time and perhaps see some artistic integrity I initially missed.
Welp, I can honestly say 25 years later, I still find it a completely pointless
The cast is great for the most part, except for a notable few miscasting choices (namely Vince Vaghn as Norman Bates as he struggles to be convincingly creepy). I remember Anne Heche being criticized for the role at the time due to some personal eccentricities that made the news cycle, but I found her completely adequate as Marion Crane. Julianne Moore gives a more strong-willed performance as Lila Crane looking for her sister but it is William H. Macy that steals the show as Milton Arbogast, the private investigator looking for Marion.
Some of the notable differences are of course the house (which seems to be at the insistence of Universal otherwise Sant would have used the original design), some added violence during the iconic shower death sequence and an action by Norman when watching Crane threw a peephole. Those were welcome changes as they updated the material, and it’s a damn shame Sant didn’t do more. The script itself is virtually unchanged and many instances of the dialogue, character actions, and even wardrobe are painfully dated despite the fact the film itself states it takes place in 1998.
The Scream Factory Blu-ray retains the existing commentary by Gus Van Sant, Anne Heche, and Vince Vaughn as well as a documentary made for its initial Laserdisc and DVD release. There is a new commentary with the film’s editor moderated by the director of the Psycho Legacy documentary and it’s fascinating learning how hard the film was to edit in order to match the timing of the original. It is a shame all that effort went into a director’s pompous vanity project that ended up bombing in theaters and negatively affecting the rest of his career. It served as a good lesson to Hollywood, if you are going to remake a classic, you better make it unique and different enough to be worth a watch, otherwise you could go down in history as the most pointless remake of all time which I feel Psycho 1998 will undoubtfully hold until the end of days.