The Horror Honeys: Psycho 1960 vs Psycho 1998

Psycho 1960 vs Psycho 1998

Based on the novel by Robert Bloch, and inspired by the life and crimes of the very real Ed Gein, Psycho was a groundbreaking film on many levels in both the horror genre, and for Alfred Hitchcock as a director. Hitchcock's first horror film would go on to be his highest grossing and maintains it's position as one of the most memorable pieces of horror cinema ever created.

The Original (1960): Hitchcock bought the rights to Bloch's novel for $9,000 and then bought as many copies of the book he could find to keep the ending a secret. Filmed in black and white, Hitchcock thought it would be too gory to film in color. Everyone remembers something different about Psycho that stays with them and stands the test of time. The shower scene? Mother in the basement? Norman's arrest? The final scene? The music? The taxidermy?
Psycho was a groundbreaking film - the first American film to show the flushing of a toilet (seriously) and most shocking of all, our beautiful and engaging leading lady is killed off at the beginning of the film! Audiences were unprepared for the sudden savagery of Marion's death and the shocking (for the time) ending. If you haven't seen Anthony Hopkins' stunning performance as the titular Hitchcock, put it on your list. Hitchcock tells the behind the scenes story of how Psycho was made and paints an interesting and unflinching portrait of one of Hollywood's most unique directors.

The Remake (1998): Gus Van Sant took a lot of heat for his remake of this horror classic. A faithful shot-by-shot remake, Van Sant took on aspects of the original that weren't possible for Hitchcock to accomplish - the opening city shot of Phoenix, for example wasn't something that Hitchcock could film the way he wanted to in 1959, but Van Sant was able to fulfil that original idea in 1998 with no trouble. Casting is one of the biggest issues that people seem to have with the remake - personally, Vince Vaughn's Norman Bates is actually my favorite of his performances - ever. 

I also enjoyed the way Van Sant updated some key scenes, Norman spying on Marion before her final shower, and made them creepier by adding in a sexual element that Hitchcock avoided. Van Sant's Norman is sexually aroused by Marion and because his voyeurism reaches a new tangible level, mother's murderous rage is unleashed. Marion's death, although shot by shot is identical to the original is somehow more brutal and more raw in color and with some added nudity. Marion's final closeup is one of my favorites in the film (original and remake), and I think Van Sant's update of it works perfectly.

Check out this fan-made side by side compilation of the famous shower scene is one of my favorite things because it's clear just how much respect Van Sant had for Hitchcock's work.