Archive for Psycho

Psycho (1998) Review

Posted in Psycho (1998) with tags , , , , , , on October 8, 2013 by Last Road Reviews

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PSYCHO 1998

*** Out of 5

Tagline- Check In. Unpack. Relax. Take a Shower

Release Date- December 4th, 1998

Running Time- 102-Minutes

Rating- R

Screenplay- Joseph Stefano (Novel- Peter Bloch)

Director- Gus Van Sant

Starring- Vince Vaughn, Anne Heche, Julianne Moore, Viggo Mortensen with William H. Macey and Robert Forster

Released in 1998 Psycho is pretty much a shot for shot remake of the original and often gets very subpar reviews. Even though I’m not exactly a fan of the Psycho remake I also feel the film gets a little too much hate, which is easy to understand, but a lot of people bash the film for being a shot for shot remake, but the remake of Night of the Living Dead gets a lot more respect, but I guess Tom Savini being a horror legend people are more forgiving and if someone like say John Carpenter directed this I think it might get less hate. However with that said one has to wonder why Psycho was a shot for shot remake with very little added to it. What’s the point of remaking a film if you’re gonna make the same exact movie? It’s tough to judge Psycho as its own film since its the same as the original, but despite being identical the films couldn’t be anymore different in terms of suspense. The Psycho remake lacks everything that made the original such a masterpiece despite being identical.

Part of the problem with remaking Psycho is everybody knows the story of Norman Bates regardless of if you’ve seen the film or not. By right Norman really isn’t the villain while he’s mentally disturbed he has a split personality and the only thing Norman was guiltily of is covering up a crime. But everybody knows the story and the twist and that’s even ignoring the sequels. Psycho wasn’t some small cult film it was a massive success and one of the most influential films ever made. The twist that Norman is Mother may have shocked audiences in 1960, but as of 1998 when the remake came out it was common knowledge, which for me is another strike against the film. While this was also the case in the novel, but it wasn’t a huge success like the film, which helped make the 1960 version a shocker. The only way to avoid that in the remake would be to put a twist on things and even if it was a great twist it would still be a total failure. Watching the remake you already know exactly what’s gonna happen before it does. I think if anything that’s the biggest problem with the remake since the twist is already known before you even sit down to watch it and changing the twist would completely ruin the film as well. Really no matter what you do you’re destined to fail.

The screenplay was written by Joseph Stefano who also wrote the original film and all he really does is slightly alter some dialogue here and there as the script is nearly identical to his script for the original and I’m guessing as a writer this was Stefano’s easiest payday. The changes made to the script really have no impact whatsoever and I really can’t see any other reason for writing this other than for the money. While the novel by Robert Bloch and the 1960 film are for the most part the same, but it does feature a couple of scenes not in the original and a couple of scenes that are played out a bit differently and I think Stefano may have been better off going in that direction and while the end result would be pretty much the same film it would at least offer a couple of differences.

At one point in his career director Gus Van Sant was better known for his Indie films, but in 1997 with the release of Good Will Hunting he hit the mainstream as the film was a blockbuster hit and got nominated for several Oscars including best picture, best director, best actor and supporting actress with wins for best screenplay and supporting actor and as great of a film as Titanic was I felt than and now Good Will Hunting deserved the best picture win and Van Sant best director. Despite not winning being nominated opens a lot of doors in Hollywood and one has to wonder why with the massive success of Good Will Hunting and with all the projects out there for him why would Gus Van Sant decide to not only remake Psycho, but make an exact copy only with a new cast and in color. The pacing of the film is fairly decent and while it never comes close to matching the original at anytime in any area I can’t say I was ever bored with the remake. Like I said despite being a copy of the original it’s also a totally different film in terms of suspense. I really have no idea why Gus Van Sant it would be a good idea to not only remake Psycho, but do a shot for shot remake. The shower scene Van Sant puts a bit of a twist on it visually at least and it’s a complete failure compared to the original; it lacks the suspense and excitement of the original and Van Sant would have been better served making it a gore scene. It’s not so much it was bad and perhaps if not for the original it wouldn’t be so bad, but there is an original and this sure fails compared to it.

Norman in the original played by Anthony Perkins is quite odd, socially awkward and even a little child like in some ways, whereas Vince Vaughn basically for the most part copies Perkins, but he also comes across as sort of an idiot and simple minded. While I haven’t seen a lot of Vince Vaughn’s work I’ve see enough to find him a good actor, but here he was the wrong choice for Norman. Even ignoring Anthony Perkins, Vaughn still isn’t very good in the role. His scenes with Anne Heche in the parlor and later with Arbogast in the office are awkward and not in the way they were meant to be. He’s not terrible I guess, but wasn’t the right choice and compared to Perkins the performance is a failure. Rest of the cast is ok with cameos from James LeGros (Phantasm II) and James Remar (Warriors) and Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers) with bit parts from Robert Forster and Philip Baker Hall, but outside of William H. Macey nobody really stands out and despite greet actors like Viggo Mortensen they’re all rather forgettable. It’s a great cast for the Psycho remake, but they’re al wasted.

Overall the Psycho remake isn’t as bad as it was totally pointless. As much as I love the original Psycho I can avoid a bias view as many films I hold in as high regard as Psycho have also been remade with some of them I hated and others I liked, but this was just pointless and I’m not really sure what anyone was thinking. The film isn’t as bad as reviews you may have read though I cannot defend it from negative reviews since I see where they’re coming from. Psycho isn’t the worst film ever made, but easily one of the most pointless as its a shot for shot remake for 99% of the film. While I didn’t hate it I really sure didn’t love it either.

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Psycho (1959 Novel) Review

Posted in Psycho (Novel) with tags , , on July 1, 2013 by Last Road Reviews

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PSYCHO NOVEL

**** ┬ŻOut of 5

Release Date- 1959

Written by- Robert Bloch

When it comes to Psycho it seems sometimes people forget the Alfred Hitchcock masterpiece was based off a novel; the film is no doubt one of the greatest films ever made and its a film every aspiring filmmaker should see to learn how to plot a screenplay and how to direct. But without the novel by Robert Bloch we wouldn’t have the classic film. It’s a shame the novel is sort of forgotten and I suppose that just shows how great the film was, but its a shame because the novel is a wonderful book and really should get more attention. Between the two I personally think the film was better for the most part (not a lot better however), but the novel is far better than the sequels and remake. Robert Bloch wrote a truly terrific novel and I just wish it didn’t take me as long as it did to finally read it.

The film and novel really aren’t that much different, but personally I felt the changes screenwriter Joseph Stefano made improved on what was an amazing novel. Unlike the film Norman is introduced right away and this worked great in the book, but the film version made the right idea by keeping Norman out for the first 30-minutes as I don’t think it would have worked as well in the film mainly due to a lot of Norman’s chapters are his thoughts outside of a few conversations with Mother. Also it adds to the odd vibe when Marion Crane (Mary in the novel) first meets Norman. Introducing Norman right away worked brilliant in the book, but Alfred Hitchcock and Joseph Stefano made the right move in taking Norman out of the early parts of the film. Would I have felt that way if I read the novel first? Not possible to give an answer, but at least it gives the novel and film a couple of differences, which helped my enjoyment of the book a little more. The film and novel aren’t all that different for the most part and I would again give the edge to the film, but in general they aren’t all that different and the changes made in the film I thought actually improved the film over what was a very good novel.

The novel does offer a little more insight on Mary Crane and her sister Lila and Sam Loomis. While all three characters are well developed in the film we do learn more about them. Obviously certain things can’t be in the film as it would slow the pace down and even stray from the main plot and of course we can’t get into the thoughts of the characters without a voice over, but all these things would hurt the pace, but work brilliantly in the novel. Robert Bloch does a wonderful job with the characters and you really feel as if you get to know them. Norman is a little more likable in the film; by the end of Psycho we know Norman is insane and has a split personality, but prior to that he’s a bit weird and eccentric and really Norman isn’t the villain; Mother is and Norman is just guilty of covering up her crimes, but the novel we get more into his mind and while still weird and eccentric we also know he isn’t all there and I didn’t find Norman as likable in the novel as I did the film. As we get into his thoughts he could be quite nasty. Though for the most part Norman is more or less the same biggest differences are he’s 40-years old, overweight and a bit of an alcoholic. But there are some differences and I really loved the take the novel had on Norman as well as the film.

Psycho the film starts off as a crime/drama that becomes a horror film and the novel also is sort of a crime/drama, but it seemed to me Mary played less of a part as she did in the film even if there isn’t much added differently in the film. I guess since in the novel Norman is introduced right away perhaps that’s why, but it did seem to me the part was a bit bigger in the film even if again there really wasn’t much added. The novel seems a little more horror and suspense driven with an odd tone established from the start whereas the film while does the same thing in terms of horror and suspense, but the tone early is more crime/drama. It’s quite interesting how the same material just worded differently at times can make things play off so different at times.

As far as the changes made in the film from the book I guess seeing the film so many times its only natural to favor the film. The changes aren’t major; most changes made its the same basic idea just played out a bit differently, but not where it strays. But I suppose its only natural to favor the film since I’ve seen it many times before ever reading the book. With all that said though Psycho is a fantastic novel and if you’ve seen the film nothing here will surprise you, but that doesn’t take away from the novel at all.

Overall Psycho is an amazing novel and Robert Bloch deserves far more credit than he gets. Like I said I do feel the changes made by Joseph Stefano elevated the material, but that’s not a knock on Robert Bloch who again wrote a terrific book and just might make my top 5 novels of all time. Robert Bloch would write Psycho II in 1982 coming out a year before the film version of Psycho II and would feature entirely different plots and in 1990 Robert Bloch wrote Psycho House the 3rd and final part of his trilogy. The original novel was the best out of the three and it comes highly recommend.

(The 8th page I posted is the shower scene).

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