Having seen Alfred Hitchcock's original film several times, I've found the three main differences between that film and Gus Van Sant's nearly identical remake to be these:
1. Hitchcock's was in black and white; Van Sant's is in color.
2. In the new one, when Norman (Vince Vaughn) is watching Marion Crane (Anne Heche) through the peephole in his office, you get to hear the disturbingly gelatinous sound of him masturbating.
3. During the opening scene where Marion is making out with her lover, Sam (Viggo Mortensen), you get to see Sam's bare, hairy ass.
These three thunderclaps of genius hardly seem to warrant spending $25 million of our gross national product to remake the original while children are starving in Somalia. However, Van Sant really wanted to experience what Hitchcock must have gone through while making the first film. He originally planned to accomplish this by spending two years eating Snow Cap Lard right out of the tub, but modern cinematic time constraints kept that from becoming a reality. To his credit, however, Van Sant did get something of a start on the Snow Cap Lard thing and is planning to give "Touch of Evil" the shot-by-shot treatment in 2000 when he's the size of Orson Welles.
I could belabor the irrelevance of the story, or the acting, or the fact that Vince Vaughn masturbating at the sight of Anne Heche is the ultimate act of non-reciprocation. However, the real scare in this little self-fulfillment exercise is the idea that filmmakers with even less sense than Van Sant will feel compelled to crank out painfully mediocre shot-by-shot remakes of other films.
Really, what's next? Penelope Spheeris remaking "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" or Christopher Columbus remaking "Home Alone"? After that, filmmakers who failed the first time with a film will be remaking their own films. Soon, somebody will try making two versions of the same movie and release them simultaneously. Ultimately, it's just another way for the Hollywood money machine to carve the "creative" right out of the creative process.
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