Review by Jack Taylor
Following his self-proclaimed exile/hiatus/retirement from the movie industry, acclaimed director Steven Soderbergh’s enigmatic artistry has taken another unexpected turn of events.
The devil will most certainly make work for idle hands, and in this case Soderbergh has decided to develop a re-edit/mash-up of Psycho which incorporates both the original Hitchcock classic and Gus Van Sant’s shot for shot remake.
Aside from its quirky nature, which serves to illustrate the stark contrast between both versions, Psychos, as it has been affectionately titled, calls into question the validity of the dreaded Hollywood remake. Often dismissed as a contrived money making exercise where studios have embraced the apathetic nature of rehashing ideas of old to keep themselves afloat within the current financial climate, yet for all intents and purposes is this really just the means to a rather sticky end?
Of course the idea of the remake isn’t a particularly new one; Brian De Palma’s Scarface was adapted from the 1932 film of the same name albeit with circumstances that reflected a modern socio-economic landscape. And David Lynch has even stated that Eraserhead was some kind of warped abstract attempt at remaking The Philadelphia Story.
Although there are certain anomalies and exceptions to the rule, the recent trend in movie remakes is most certainly a grim one indeed. Total Recall was recently put through the wringer in the form of a paint by numbers CGI romper stomper that lacked any of the originality and intricate subtext of Paul Verhoeven’s surrealist study of the human psyche, albeit juxtaposed with lashings of gratuitous action violence for good measure.
Tobe Hooper’s genre defining slasher The Texas Chainsaw Massacre has also wistfully evolved into something of a franchise parody, with a trajectory of pointless re-boots that have subsequently failed to capture any of the subversive and innovative poise of the original 1974 classic.
Regardless of a film’s cultural status and the very long shadow its legacy might cast over its pale imitations, there are, however, a number of sacred cows that should not be led to celluloid slaughter like so many unfortunate victims before them.
William Friedkin’s masterpiece of modern horror combines a number of inimitable components to make a startlingly visceral portrait of the supernatural. The film was so controversial among religious factions and conservative lobbyists that it remained banned in the UK for a number of years until it was later restored to its full theatrical glory upon its 25th anniversary re-release.
“Are you talkin’ to me?” possibly the most recited line in movie history by one of the most lauded actors in the industry. Hollywood should really get their priorities ‘organizized’ before they consider revisiting such bold territory which could ultimately descend into self-parody.
In an ideal world the Don would have made an offer to studio execs that they couldn’t refuse, hopefully outlining an embargo on any attempt to try and recapture the sepia toned majesty of such a slick portrayal of the mafia underworld, which is more aligned with Greek tragedy than that of crime fiction.
All work and no play apparently makes Jack a dull boy, and if the recent trend in remakes is anything to go by, no industrious work ethic or sense of gleeful play could make this anything more than a dull distraction from Stanley Kubrick’s macabre master class in filmmaking.
Ridley Scott’s sci-fi epic has appeared as a number of different incarnations in its lifetime while Scott has fought tooth and nail to preserve a definitive director’s cut that outlines his original uncompromised vision. A movie which questions the sanctity of what it is to be human, let’s hope the answer won’t be contrived in the form of a schmaltzy reinvention of half-baked ideas.
Director Steven Soderbergh’s mash-up of Psycho and its remake belongs to a strong tradition of movie re-edits – both official and otherwise – and shines new light on the 1960 Hitchcock classic.