Psycho

Yes, the blood swirling down the drain is disgusting in color, as Hitchcock said it would be, though today's moviegoers won't flinch. Let's forgo the rant about creative bankruptcy and cinematic grave-robbing, however ghoulishly appropriate it may be. Gus Van Sant's "re-creation" -- his term, and he insists -- of the granddaddy of serial-killer shockers...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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Yes, the blood swirling down the drain is disgusting in color, as Hitchcock said it would be, though today's moviegoers won't flinch. Let's forgo the rant about creative bankruptcy and cinematic grave-robbing, however ghoulishly

appropriate it may be. Gus Van Sant's "re-creation" -- his term, and he insists -- of the granddaddy of serial-killer shockers has a sharp young cast and glorious Deluxe color to recommend it. But its structure and dialogue are clearly of 1960, and what scared audiences then will almost certainly

strike kids raised on the unholy trinity of Michael, Jason and Freddy as quaint and slow. In deference to the innocent few who don't know the big secret about Norman Bates (Vince Vaughn) and his mother, we'll keep the plot vague. Desperately in love with Sam (Viggo Mortensen), who won't marry her

because he's crippled by family debt, Marion (Anne Heche) is presented with the opportunity to abscond with $400,000 and impulsively succumbs. She never gets to Sam's place, and is last seen at the Bates Motel, which twitchy Norman runs while caring for his sick old mother. Anthony Perkins so made

the part of Norman his own that it haunted his career, but Vaughn acquits himself well, as do Heche, Mortensen and Julianne Moore, who plays Marion's concerned sister Lila. If anything, Van Sant's supporting cast is better than the original, and for the most part Van Sant faithfully mimics

Hitchcock's striking compositions and camera moves. He adds a couple of bizarre inserts (a bikinied girl and a cow on a highway, recalling MY OWN PRIVATE IDAHO) during the film's second murder scene, and they're simply baffling, though he also restores a couple of images -- a fly buzzing around

Sam and Marion's seedy hotel room, an overhead shot of a corpse draped crudely over the edge of a tub -- originally lost to censorship and other considerations. But the upshot is that Van Sant's film feels as dated as Hitchcock's, and Hitchcock's has the better excuse.

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  • Released: 1998
  • Rating: R
  • Review: Yes, the blood swirling down the drain is disgusting in color, as Hitchcock said it would be, though today's moviegoers won't flinch. Let's forgo the rant about creative bankruptcy and cinematic grave-robbing, however ghoulishly appropriate it may be. Gus… (more)

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