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Saturday April 13th 2024

Psycho | 1998

Why? Why? Why? Years later, it still remains a mystery why indie director Gus Van Sant would make a virtually frame-for-frame remake of a classic, in eye-popping colour. And what a top-notch cast thought they were doing.

"I felt that, sure, there were film students, cinephiles and people in the business who were familiar with Psycho but that there was also a whole generation of movie-goers who probably hadn't seen it," says Van Sant, "I thought this was a way of popularising a classic... It was like staging a contemporary production of a classic play while remaining true to the original.

OK. But why the surreal flash-frames in the murder sequences? Who knows?

The film opens, as does Alfred Hitchcock’s original, with a panoramic shot of Phoenix, Arizona, with the camera homing in to a room of the Westward Ho Hotel, 618 North Central Avenue, downtown Phoenix. Unlike Marion and Sam, you won't be able to check in a for a quick lunchtime canoodle. In the 1980s, it was converted into residential apartment block for senior citizens – though its current status seems uncertain.

Hitchcock didn't have today’s technical resources. He intended the elaborate opening shot to follow the flight of a housefly (which reappears on Norman Bates' hand at the end of the movie) into the hotel room.

The Westward Ho is also featured in 1972’s offbeat Western Pocket Money, with Paul Newman and Lee Marvin.

The original 'Bates House' still stands on the Universal lot in Los Angeles, as you'll know if you've taken the Universal Studios Hollywood theme park tour, but it’s been moved from its original location. For this film, a new – and slightly updated – house was built on the lot.

The scene of Marion Crane (Anne Heche) being woken in her car by the traffic cop was filmed at exactly the same spot at Gorman, north of Los Angeles, as the original. The swamp scene was also filmed at Gorman, in a break from the original Hitchcock locations. The 1960 film used the Falls Lake on the Universal backlot, which was now deemed a mite too familiar to moviegoers.