Archive for Psycho

AWESOME-tober-fest 2012: Gus Van Sant’s Psycho remake (1998)

Posted in Alfred Hitchock, movies, Norman Bates, pop culture, Psycho, reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on October 5, 2012 by Paxton

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In 1998, Gus Van Sant set out to film a remake of Hitchcock’s classsic, Psycho. Van Sant used a shooting script from the original movie which included notes from Hitchcock himself.

Psycho remake

I saw this remake when it hit video for the first time. Being a huge fan of the original, of course, I was set to not like it from the beginning. Honestly, at the time, I didn’t hate it, it just felt superfluous. Like why even bother? So I filed it away and really never thought of it again.

So now that I’ve decided to have this Psycho week, I decided to rewatch this remake (as well as the original). I still feel the same. Even more so after watching this right after the original. Why bother, Van Sant? It’s so close to the original there is literally NO NEED to watch this movie. Sure, Julianne Moore tries to bring a little different to the Crane sister character and Vince Vaughn definitely plays Bates a little different, but not enough to warrant watching this. Anne Heche does NOTHING different with Marion Crane which makes her performance even less.  You not only get nothing new out of this you are also watching an almost literal copy of the dialogue and scenes from the 1960 original.  SO WHY NOT JUST WATCH THE ORIGINAL?

Like I said, I don’t hate this remake. It just makes me sad.  It has to be one of the most useless movies ever made.  When Van Sant was asked why he did it, he just said that he did it so no one else would have to.  NO ONE ELSE WOULD HAVE THOUGHT OF DOING IT, DUDE.  He must have been high off his big 1997 hit Good Will Hunting and thought he was invincible.  Apparently not.

Here’s the trailer:

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AWESOME-tober-fest 2012: Bates Motel TV movie (1987)

Posted in 80s, Alfred Hitchock, movies, pop culture, Psycho, TV shows with tags , , , , , , on October 4, 2012 by Paxton

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In 1987, Universal commissioned a 2 hour television movie called Bates Motel as a spin-off of Psycho.

Bates Motel TV series

The TV movie was also a “backdoor pilot” for a possible television series. However, the ratings were so low that Universal scrapped the idea of the ongoing TV series.

The plot of the movie was about a mentally disturbed youth, Alex West, who is committed to an asylum for murdering his step father. While inside, Alex befriends a rehabilitated Norman Bates. They remain friends for 20 years and after Bates’ death, Alex discovers that he has inherited Bates Motel, which has been vacant since Bates’ arrest many, many years ago. With the help of a teenage runaway, Willie, Alex attempts to reopen the Motel.  Shortly before opening, the occupants experience several strange occurances which leads Alex to wonder if the hotel is haunted by Norma Bates.

The show starred Bud Cort as the adult Alex West.  It also starred Lori Petty as the teen runaway, Willie. Other stars include Jason Bateman and Robert Picardo. Anthony Perkins did not return to play Norman Bates for this movie. Bates was instead played by Kurt Paul who was Perkins’ stunt double in Psycho II, Psycho III and Psycho IV.

Perkins was upset with this series as it interferred with the timeline of Perkins’ Psycho III movie from the previous year.  Psycho III was about Bates after he was released from the asylum while the TV series said Bates died while still inside.

Bates Motel NEW

Like I said, the show received dismal ratings and was scrapped.  However, Universal recently announced that they have changed their minds. There will be a brand new TV series called Bates Motel. It will star Vera Farmiga as Norma Bates and feature the formative years of a young Norman Bates and how his mother shaped and molded Norman into the man he would become in Hitchcock’s classic movie.  This TV series is coming due to Universal’s happiness with the big screen movie Hitchcock starring Sir Anthony Hopkins as the titular director.  The movie is about all the behind the scenes machinations in getting Psycho made back in 1960.  I personally am looking forward to both of these projects.

The 1987 Bates Motel movie was never officially released on DVD in the US.  But you can watch the show in it’s entirety on YouTube.

Here are the first three parts (of ten) of Bates Motel:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

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AWESOME-tober-fest 2012: Psycho by Robert Bloch (1959)

Posted in Alfred Hitchock, movies, pop culture, Psycho with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 3, 2012 by Paxton

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Robert Bloch’s seminal thriller, Psycho, was published in 1959. While viewed as dime store schlock at the time, Alfred Hitchcock recognized the great story within and bought up the movie rights as well as however many copies of the book he could find so no one could read it.

Psycho hardback Psycho by Robert Bloch

While Hitchcock’s movie based on the book would become a smash hit and essentially begin the slasher genre, the book itself would mostly become lost in the shuffle.  I am a huge fan of Hitchcock.  I am also a huge fan of Hitchcock’s Psycho.  Particularly the performance by Anthony Perkins.  He is so Mayberry, boy next door in the beginning and then switches to bat sh*t crazy in a heartbeat.  Psycho is such a great movie and I love it so much that I’m surprised I’d never gone back to read Bloch’s original novel.  So I did.

I was surprised how faithful in story the movie was to this book.  The story is essentially the same, Mary Crane (Marion in the movie) steals $4,000 from her boss to help pay her boyfriend’s debts and travels to see him.  She gets detoured along the way at the Bates Motel.  Mary meets Norman Bates and spends the night at the hotel.  When she essentially disappears for a week, Mary’s sister travels to see her boyfriend and they both go looking for her.  A private detective shows up as well, all asking questions of Norman Bates.  What actually happened and who is to blame?

Honestly, like I said the story beats are the same.  The main differences involve Norman Bates himself.  The book makes him the focus.  The book begins with a discussion between Bates and his mother Norma.  We see the abuse she piles on top of him.  It’s almost uncomfortable.  We don’t meet Mary until the end of Chapter 1, beginning of Chapter 2.  In the movie, we begin with the Mary character (or Marion).  I like that this book fleshes out the inner workings of Bates’ mind.  We come to understand how he reasons and what happens when he becomes “mother”.  Reading it this way, you see the signs much earlier that there is something wrong with Bates.

Not only is Bates more the focus in the novel, his appearance is completely different.  In the novel he’s short, overweight, balding and wears glasses.  This is the polar opposite of Anthony Perkins who is tall and lanky.  I like Hitchcock’s choice of the unassuming “boy next door”.  Casting to the description in the book would have just screamed, “this guy is creepy”.  Perkins does a great job of hiding the creepy until the very end.

Norman Bates

Before I read, I was concerned this book was going to be too slow and noir-y.  I tend to think a lot of Hitchcock and that he elevated a lot of the material he brought to the screen.  So I was essentially thinking this book would be a boring schlocky crapfest that Hitchcock recognized the potential of and molded it into the classic movie we now have.  I was wrong.  This book is well written, moves along very swiftly and wraps up nicely at the end.  The building blocks of the movie were there, Hitchcock really only had to change a few things and add a few classic visuals (like the shower scene) to get his movie.  I should read the book The Birds was based on to see if it’s as good.

Psycho II Psycho House

Bloch would write two sequels to Psycho. Psycho II would be published in 1982 and the third book in the trilogy, Psycho House, would be published in 1990.  Neither of the book sequels were adapted into the movie sequels.  Psycho II the novel would follow Norman Bates as he escapes from the mental institution and travels to Hollywood to visit the set of the movie based on the original Bates Motel murders.  Psycho House would see the Bates Motel become a tourist attraction in which murders begin happening again.

The second book sounds a little bit like Scream 3.  I wonder if Psycho II the book is where Kevin Williamson got his inspiration for that movie.  It sounds pretty good and I can see why Hollywood didn’t want to make that movie.  Psycho House also sounds familiar.  Maybe Halloween Resurrection or even Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2?  Considering how much I enjoyed the first book, I’ll definitely read these sequels.

But those are tales for another Halloween…

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AWESOME-tober-fest 2012: Advertising for Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho

Posted in Alfred Hitchock, movies, Psycho with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 2, 2012 by Paxton

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Psycho was a groundbreaking suspense and horror movie.  It was expertly crafted and has been endlessly homaged and duplicated.  In many ways, it’s the grandfather of the modern slasher movie and Norman Bates is the grandfather of the modern slasher.  Released in 1960, it was unlike anything audiences had seen before. Part of that, was the way Hitchcock marketed the film.  He played up star Janet Leigh, who was a big star at the time having been in movies since the 40s (including Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil), only to have her character killed 10 minutes into the movie.  Hitchcock did everything he could to simultaneously play up the shocking and surprising nature of the film and build up a little buzz in the media.  He did this by hanging signs in theaters stating that no one can arrive to the theater late.  If you’re late, you can’t enter.  Hitchcock even talked about it in the super long trailer.

This week, to begin AWESOME-tober-fest 2012, I’m going to look at several aspects of Psycho.  Today, I’ll look at some advertising.  The rest of this week I’ll look at the book by Robert Bloch that started it all, the short lived TV series based on the movie and I’ll finish it all up by reviewing the 1998 remake with Vince Vaughn.

So, let’s start our look at Psycho with some of the advertising.  You can click them to see the images bigger on Flickr.

Movie Posters:
Psycho poster 1Hichcock Psycho posterPsycho poster

Lobby cards:
Psycho lobby card 1 Psycho lobby cards 2

Newspaper ad:
Psycho newspaper ad

The original 6min long trailer:

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