Back in 1998, Universal released an oddball of a film in the form of Pscyho. No, I’m not talking about the original classic from legendary director Alfred Hitchcock, but rather the remake from Good Will Hunting‘s Gus Van Sant. But this wasn’t an average, ordinary remake. Nah, this was a legit, shot-by-shot remake of the original film.
Given that it’s only a shot-by-shot remake, with the only differences being the actors and color, one may wonder…what was the point? Van Sant had a chance to explain himself while on Marc Maron’s WTF Podcast, and here’s what he had to say:
“There’s a whole reason behind it… I think the process of doing it was the learning, it wasn’t necessarily the result. It wasn’t really about learning about Hitchcock, it was more that during the 90s the joke about the executives was that they would rather make a sequel than they would an original piece, because there was less risk. They would rather continue a story that’s already known in the public, and they were really searching for some way to do that. Now they’ve found out that comics is the way to do it… but back in the 90s they hadn’t found that yet.”
So how did the idea for this come about? The filmmaker expanded on the backstory, and it was an idea he’d had for around a decade or so, ever since his film Drugstore Cowboy hit:
“When I did Drugstore Cowboy, I was all of a sudden meeting with the heads of studios because they knew that actors would work with me, therefore if they got me on their movie they could get the actor that they wanted. So it was less about me than it was about the actors. During one of the meetings, Casey Silver at Universal brought in all of his vice presidents, and one guy was head of the library, and he said, ‘In the library we have old films that you could remake, we have scripts that haven’t been made yet that you could make,’ and it just reminded me of that thing that they wanted to do, which is remake something. And I said, ‘What you guys haven’t done is try to take a hit and remake it exactly. Rather than remake it and put a new spin on it, just remake it for real,’ because I’d never seen that done yet as an experiment. The whole thing seemed experimental to me anyway so I thought why not, and they laughed, they thought it was silly, ridiculous, absurd, and they left–they said, ‘We won’t be doing that.’”
All in all, Psycho was something of an experiment, and now, Van Sant admits it didn’t fully work — at least not in the financial way he’d hoped:
“So it didn’t work. But the idea was whether or not you could remake something and it would repeat the box office. That was the sort of weird science experiment… It’s more important now I think, because people like yourself will ask questions about it. It’s more alive now than it was back when it failed, just with the art world or the modern world.”
Have you ever liked Van Sant’s Psycho? Let us know down below!