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Psycho: Have I Said "Wow" Yet?


OK, for once, I'm going to be serious. (Don't get used to it.) Having just come back from seeing the remake of Psycho, I'd just like to say... Wow.


Now, I've been wanting to see this movie for months. For a while, it was only out of curiosity. Who in the world could possibly believe that they could remake Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, king of all horror movies? And what sort of brain injury did this person have? (Because God forbid I should ever become that deluded.)

But, like I said... Wow.

You've got the same script, the same movie, shot-for-shot. But somewhere along the line, Gus van Sant actually managed to catch up to good old Alfred. You don't think that something like this could be as good the second time around? Neither did I.

Hitchcock's Psycho was perfect. But this is an entirely different kind of perfect. Van Sant's Psycho has to rely solely on its performances to make it stand out, and boy, does it ever. All of the actors shine in their roles, especially William H. Macy as the detective and Anne Heche, picking up where Janet Leigh left off.

But Vince Vaughn as Norman Bates is going to give me nightmares. Honestly. For weeks. Months, maybe. Vaughn's childlike laugh in the movie got more and more sinister, and his eyes froze over as the movie progressed. By the time this Norman has his talk with Marion's lover (Viggo Mortensen), every word he says and every look he gives made me shudder.

Is he Anthony Perkins? No. Is he better? No. Worse? Hell, no. Vaughn's Norman manages to convince you he's an innocent victim right up until he flips up that picture and does the old Peeping Tom routine with Marion. After that, his whole childish facade starts to fall apart before your eyes. It doesn't hurt that when Vaughn's playing Norman as your average Joe next door, his smiles and laughs are a hell of a lot more comic than Anthony Perkins' were.

Sure, this version has its uncomfortable points. Van Sant tosses in a couple of scenes that were a little more graphic than in the original -- a clear view of Marion's rear after she falls from the shower, Norman doing something besides "stuffin' things" with his free hands while spying on Marion. (I'd say what he was doing, but I refuse to use the word "masturbate" in a sentence.)

But as much as I'd like to say that it was wrong to put those shots in the movie, Hitch had wanted to show Marion's backside in the original, but it wouldn't have cleared the censors. And as for the latter -- well, it certainly gave me a little more food for thought about our favorite mama's boy.

And one more thing I thought I'd mention -- I think that every single one of us has seen the shower scene. But while I was watching the movie, when the curtain was pulled back and that eerie shadow with the knife is standing there, for the first time ever, I heard people scream during a movie. Not just gasps, but screams.

Have I said "Wow" yet?

Jennifer Matarese

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Our Readers Respond

yes indeed it was psycho.......psycho to mess with such a classic that was years ahead of its time. the casting……was it me or did this guy......now even come close to the part......maybe he could be a great actor but no way was he meant for norman bates' role....and the sheriff........why not just get don knotts next time.....i wanted my money back......don't waste ur money stay home and rent the real McCoy.

Rodeny Loomis