Original Movie Remake: Psycho(1960) & Psycho(1998)

Welcome everyone, to my new weekly series: Original Movie Remake, where I will analyze the original film and remake. The goal is to compare both films and come to the conclusion if the remake was worth it. A lot of fans hate the idea of remakes, especially to their favorite films. Of course there are many terrible remakes but there are some that are good and even sometimes exceeds the original. Most may say that it’s just a blatant attempt at cashing in on the name of some past, well-known films. I personally have no issues with remakes as long as its done well. I have one rule on how a successful remake should be:

The remake must bring something new while at the same time, respecting the original.

Meaning, it must bring something fresh to the story in concept or the execution of the film.

I will analyze and compare the films in 4 categories:

Story, Characters, Directing Style, Director

Psycho(1960) & Psycho(1998)

psycho-remake-poster

Psycho(1960) Synopsis: Phoenix officeworker Marion Crane is fed up with the way life has treated her. She has to meet her lover Sam in lunch breaks and they cannot get married because Sam has to give most of his money away in alimony. One Friday Marion is trusted to bank $40,000 by her employer. Seeing the opportunity to take the money and start a new life, Marion leaves town and heads towards Sam’s California store. Tired after the long drive and caught in a storm, she gets off the main highway and pulls into The Bates Motel. The motel is managed by a quiet young man called Norman who seems to be dominated by his mother. – IMDb

Psycho(1998) Synopsis: Marion Crane steals a lot of cash from a man whom her boss is in business with. On the way to see her boyfriend, she stops off by an old motel, run by the odd Norman Bates. She is murdered in the shower. Her sister, boyfriend, and a private investigator try to find out where she is, while we learn more about Norman Bates. – IMDb

Story

As you read my number one rule, the Psycho remake breaks this rule every way possible. What they do in the ’98 Psycho is a modern-day copy of everything that ’60 Psycho does. Every thing is the same except for some few minor changes in each scene and dialogue. I guess the remake was made to make it modern and in color for the younger audience to watch, if they didn’t like black and white movies. If you watch both of these films back to back as I did, you’re going to pretty much recite the dialogue when you watch the remake, word for word. An aspect that both films differ is how the ’98 Psycho makes Norman Bates a real creep from the beginning as they have him masturbating, as he watches Marion through the peep-hole. In the original Bates creepiness is subtle and adds to the mystery of the character, which the remake some how fails on, especially when they basically copy the whole film.

Characters

It has all the same characters but its the cast who makes the difference between the two films. Everyone in the original film seemed to be perfect for their respected roles. In the remake, the characters are stuck just as tight to similarly wooden imitations of the originals. It is almost painful to watch very talented actors and actresses such as William H. Marcy, Viggo Mortensen and Julianne Moore have their talents stifled. It comes off, as if they were doing a version of a high school play of the film. Anthony Perkins turned in a performance that lead to one of the most memorable characters in film history and it would have been impossible for any actor, no matter how good to recreate that. Vince Vaughn didn’t come close to comparing to Perkin’s Bates. Perkin’s acting and looks were perfect to portray Bates and Vaughn came across as a cheap imitation.

Psycho-Norman Bates

Directing Styles

One big difference between both films are the visuals. The original is in black and white, but it didn’t have to be. It was done because Hitchcock wanted it in black and white so it can take away the contrast from the blood used in the film. The remake is in color to make it more modern. Everything in the remake is a modernize version of the original from the clothes, cars and scenery. The remake did the killing scenes the same way, even the famous shower scene with the montage. What was different was that Van Sant added flashes of images in the killing scenes, as such as thunder clouds or an animal on the road. I guess this was an attempt to add symbolism but all it does is confuse you.

Directors

There was no one better in the 60s to do a film like Psycho, than Alfred Hitchcock, “The Master of Suspense. In the original Hitchcock wanted his opening shot to be a long, complete pan/zoom over the city into Marion’s hotel room. Sadly, the technology was not yet perfected, and he achieved his effect through a series of pans and dissolves. Gus Van Sant was lucky enough to do it because the technology was now available. Gus Van Sant was definitely no slouch of a director as he done the highly acclaimed film Good Will Hunting. At the end, he failed at his idea for the remake and he didn’t seem like the type of director to handle that material.

Was the remake worth it?

If you have seen and love the original, there is no reason to watch the remake. Unless you don’t like watching classic black and white films, it would be the only reason for watching the remake. Even then, it’s not a good film by itself with all the stiff acting and 60s dialogue that didn’t fit with the modern setting.

So what do you think of the original or remake?

Thanks for reading.

31 responses to “Original Movie Remake: Psycho(1960) & Psycho(1998)

  1. Cool new feature you have here Issy. I’m not a horror fan by any stretch but it sounds like you compare the two pretty fairly. Look forward to future comparisons!

  2. I’ve walked out on two movies in my life. Stephen King’s Thinner and this. It was way too close to the original. The only thing they changed were the actors.

  3. I honestly don’t understand why the remake ever existed in the first place. It’s a shot-for-shot remake, filmed by Gus Van Sant, which was probably just used as an experiment, but why?!? Good review.

  4. Great post Issy! I actually haven’t seen the original in its entirety, but no interest in seeing the remake obviously. “The remake must bring something new while at the same time, respecting the original.” Yep, it’s amazing how too many folks in Hollywood don’t follow that rule!!

  5. Issy this remake/ almost exact copy was completely unnecessary

    I am a bit nervous after watching the trailer for Spike Lee’s Oldboy that he might fall into the same trap. But I hope I am wrong.

  6. Very few remakes are better than originals, but Hitchcock’s ‘Psycho’… This film is so iconic that the mere thought of remaking it brings shivers down my spine.

  7. The differences were incredibly minor. One that sticks out in my mind is the arbogast scene, where Norman slashes his face instead of simply stabbing him.

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