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Psycho is a American horror film produced and directed by Gus Van Sant for Universal Pictures, a remake of the 1960 film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Both films are adapted from the novel of the same name by Robert Bloch, which were in turn inspired by the crimes of Wisconsinmarker serial killer Ed Gein.

Although this version is in color, features a different cast, and has been set in a contemporary timeframe, it is closer to a shot-for-shot remake than most remakes, often copying Hitchcock's camera movements and editing. Bernard Hermann's musical score is reused as well, though with a new arrangement by Danny Elfman and recorded in stereo. Some changes are introduced to account for advancements in technology since the original film and to make the content more explicit. Murder sequences are also intercut with surreal dream images.

Plot

In need of money to get her boyfriend Sam Loomis (Viggo Mortensen) out of debt, Marion Crane (Anne Heche) steals $400,000 from her employer and flees Phoenix, Arizonamarker by car. While on route to Sam's Californiamarker home, she parks along the road to sleep. A highway patrol officer awakens her and, suspicious of her agitated state, begins to follow her. When she trades her car for another one at a dealership, he notes the new vehicle's details. Marion returns to the road but, rather than drive in a heavy storm, decides to spend the night at the Bates Motel.

Owner Norman Bates (Vince Vaughn) tells Marion he rarely has customers because of a new interstate nearby and mentions he lives with his mother in the house overlooking the motel. He invites Marion to have supper with him. She overhears Norman arguing with his mother about letting Marion in the house, and during the meal she angers him by suggesting he institutionalize his mother. He admits he would like to do so, but does not want to abandon her.

Marion resolves to return to Phoenix to return the money. After calculating how she can repay the money she has spent, Marion dumps her notes down the toilet and begins to shower. An anonymous female figure enters the bathroom and stabs her to death. Finding the corpse, Norman is horrified. He cleans the bathroom and places Marion's body, wrapped in the shower curtain, and all her possessions — including the money — in the trunk of her car and sinks it in a nearby swamp.

Shortly afterward, Sam is contacted by both Marion's sister Lila (Julianne Moore) and private detective Milton Arbogast (William H. Macy), who has been hired by Marion's employer to find her and recover the money. Arbogast traces Marion to the motel and questions Norman, who unconvincingly lies that Marion stayed for one night and left the following morning. He refuses to let Arbogast talk to his mother, claiming she is ill. Arbogast calls Lila to update her and tells her he will contact her again within an hour after he questions Norman's mother.

Arbogast enters Norman's house and at the top of the stairs is attacked by a figure who slashes his face three times with a knife, pushes him down the stairs, then stabs him to death. When Arbogast does not call Lila, she and Sam contact the local police. Deputy Sheriff Al Chambers (Philip Baker Hall) is perplexed to learn Arbogast saw a woman in a window, since Norman's mother died ten years ago. Norman confronts his mother and urges her to hide in the cellar. She rejects the idea and orders him out of her room, but against her will Norman carries her to the cellar.

Posing as a married couple, Sam and Lila check into the motel and search Marion's room, where they find a scrap of paper in the toilet with "$400,000" written on it. While Sam distracts Norman, Lila sneaks into the house to search for his mother. Sam suggests to Norman that he killed Marion for the money so he could buy a new motel. Realizing Lila is not around, Norman knocks Sam unconscious with a golf club and rushes to the house. Lila sees him and hides in the cellar where she discovers the semi-preserved and mummified body of Norman's mother. Wearing his mother's clothes and a wig and carrying a knife, Norman enters and tries to attack Lila, but she is rescued by Sam.

After Norman's arrest, forensic psychiatrist Dr. Fred Richmond (Robert Forster) tells Sam and Lila that Norman's dead mother is living in Norman's psyche as an alternate personality. After the death of Norman's father, the pair lived as if they were the only people in the world. When his mother found a lover, Norman went over the edge with jealousy and murdered both of them. Consumed with guilt, he tried to "erase the crime" by bringing his mother back to life in his mind. He stole her corpse and preserved the body. When he is "Mother", he acts, talks, and dresses as she would. Norman imagined his mother would be as jealous of a woman to whom he might be attracted just as he was of his mother's lover, and so "Mother" kills any woman he has feelings for; when Norman regains consciousness, he believes that his mother has committed the crime, and covers up for her. It is implied that Norman is responsible for the unsolved disappearances of two young girls. Richmond concludes that the "Mother" personality has now taken complete control of Norman's mind.

In the final scene, Norman sits in a cell, thinking in "Mother's" voice. In a voiceover, "Mother" explains that she plans to prove to the authorities she is incapable of violence by refusing to swat a fly that has landed on her hand. The final shot shows Marion's car being recovered from the swamp, and then goes to end credits.

After the credits, we see the swamp again, except this time it turns red.

Cast



Director Gus Van Sant, emulating Hitchcock's practice of making cameo appearances in his films, appears as "Man talking to man in cowboy hat" at the same point in his film when Hitchcock made his appearance in the original. According to the DVD commentary track that featured Van Sant, Vaughn, and Heche, Van Sant's character is being scolded by Hitchcock in the scene.

Production

The audio commentary track that accompanies the DVD release of the film, and the "making-of" documentary (Psycho Path) that the DVD includes, provide numerous details about where the film strived to remain faithful to the original, and where it diverged. Some changes are pervasive: as the film opens, it is made clear that it is set in the late 1990s, so minor changes are made throughout the dialogue to reflect the new timeframe. For example, all the references to money are updated (how much Marion Crane steals, how much a car costs, how much a hotel room costs), as are references to terms from the original script like "aspic" that would seem anachronistic in the new setting. According to Van Sant, in the original the only fully-fleshed out character was Norman Bates; the other major characters were more iconic, purposely written and portrayed to advance the plot; Van Sant relied upon his main cast more to flesh out and make consistent their character's motivations and worked with them to determine to what degree their characters were similar to the originals. According to the commentary by Van Sant, Vaughn, and Heche, some actors, such as William H. Macy, chose to stay true to the original, while others, such as Vaughn and Julianne Moore, interpreted the dialogue and scenes from the original film differently; Moore's version of Lila Crane, for example, was much more aggressive than the one portrayed by Vera Miles, and there are differences in Marion Crane's evolving attitudes about the money she stole. The cinematography and the cinematic techniques were consistent between the two films in many of the film's most memorable scenes, including the shower scene, scenes of the mother, scenes of the swamp, and the scene of Arbogast on the staircase, but other scenes changed significantly, particularly the climax, and the Dr. Simon monologue at the end, which was much shorter. Van Sant's comments from the commentary track attributes many of the updates to the need to make the film more accessible to a new audience.

Release

Box office

The film earned $37,141,130 million in box office, $21,456,130 of which came from North America. Estimates of the production budget range from $20 million to $60 million; while promoting his 2002 film Gerry, Van Sant said he thought the producers "broke even" financially.

Reaction

This version of Psycho received mostly negative reviews; it was awarded two Golden Raspberry Awards, for Worst Remake or Sequel and Worst Director for Gus Van Sant, while Anne Heche was nominated as Worst Actress.

A number of critics and writers viewed Van Sant's version more as an actual experiment in shot-for-shot remakes. Many people refer to this film as more of a duplicate of the 1960 film rather than a remake. Film critic Roger Ebert wrote that the film "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." Screenwriter Joseph Stefano, who worked on the 1960 version, thought that although she spoke the same lines, Anne Heche portrays Marion Crane as an entirely different character. Even Van Sant admitted that it was an experiment that proved that no one can really copy a film exactly the same way as the original.

One positive review came from Janet Maslin, who called the film an "artful, good-looking remake (a modest term, but it beats plagiarism) that shrewdly revitalizes the aspects of the real Psycho (1960) that it follows most faithfully but seldom diverges seriously or successfully from one of the cinema's most brilliant blueprints"; she noted that the "absence of anything like Anthony Perkins's sensational performance with that vitally birdlike presence and sneaky way with a double-entendre ("A boy's best friend is his mother") is the new film's greatest weakness."

Soundtrack

The film's soundtrack, Psycho: Music from and Inspired by the Motion Picture, included Danny Elfman's re-recordings of some of Bernard Hermann's score for the original film, along with a collection of songs in genres from country to drum and bass, connected mainly by titles containing "psycho" or other death or insanity-related words. Many of the songs were recorded specifically for the soundtrack, to the extent that a number of them sample Hermann's score as well.

See also



References

  1. Psych (1998) from The Numbers


External links




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