Psycho (1998)

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Details At A Glance

Category Thriller Theatrical Trailer(s) Yes, 1 - 1.78:1 16x9 enhanced, Dolby Digital 2.0
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1998 Commentary Tracks Yes, 1 - Gus Van Sant (Director), Anne Heche (Actor) & Vince Vaughn (Actor)
Running Time 99:25 minutes Other Extras Featurette-Making Of: Psycho Path (29:12)
Psycho Screen Saver
Production Notes
Cast & Crew Biographies
Web Links
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (62:08)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Movie
Region 2,4 Director Gus Van Sant

Columbia Tristar
Starring Vince Vaughn
Julianne Moore
Viggo Mortensen
William H. Macy
Anne Heche
Case Transparent Amaray
RRP $34.95 Music Bernard Herrmann

Pan & Scan/Full Frame None MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement Yes Soundtrack Languages
Region 4
English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384Kb/s)
Soundtrack Languages
Region 2
English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384Kb/s)
French (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192Kb/s)
Italian (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192Kb/s)
Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
Macrovision Yes Smoking No
Region 4
English for the Hearing Impaired Annoying Product Placement Yes
Region 2
English for the Hearing Impaired
Action In or After Credits Yes, static shot during credits

Plot Synopsis

    Psycho is the almost shot-for-shot remake of the original Alfred Hitchcock classic Psycho of 1960. Even if you have not seen the original black and white movie, you no doubt are aware of the iconoclastic "shower scene". Remaking Psycho was a very controversial move - why remake something which is perfectly good in the first place?

    I personally have not seen the original Psycho, but it is due for release in Region 4 in October 1999, so it will be interesting to compare my reaction to that movie to my reaction to this movie.

    Marion Crane (Anne Heche) is a struggling assistant in a real estate agency. She has a lover, Sam Loomis (Viggo Mortensen), who is in debt to his ex-wife. Once his debt is cleared, he intends to marry Marion. Marion's boss makes a big real estate sale, which the purchaser settles in cash, all $400,000 worth. Marion is entrusted with the task of taking this hefty sum of cash to the bank, but temptation proves to be too much and she heads for Sam's residence. Along the way, she stops at the Bates Motel, run by Norman Bates (Vince Vaughn), which is where things go from bad to worse.

Transfer Quality


    Warner Advanced Media Operations were responsible for the compression of this disc.

    This is an excellent transfer.

    The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. It is 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer was generally very sharp and very clear throughout except for a small number of scenes which were slightly grainy and a few scenes which appeared a little over-bright, although this appears to have been the intention of the cinematographer. The scene in the real estate office appeared slightly grainy as did the spiralling out scene just after the shower sequence. Shadow detail was excellent and there was no low level noise.

    The colours were variably rendered throughout, a deliberate choice on the part of the cinematographer, starting off quite pale and washed-out and then progressively becoming more and more saturated as the movie progresses.

    There were no MPEG artefacts seen. There was no aliasing of any significance, and film artefacts were very few and far between.

    Subtitles can be selected via the remote control, and all subtitles are available via the remote, no matter what Region the DVD player is set to. The subtitle menu, however, is dependent on which Region the DVD player is set to.

    This disc is an RSDL disc, with the layer change during Chapter 11, at 62:08. The layer change is minimally intrusive.


    The audio tracks available on this DVD are dependent on the Region that the DVD player is set to in the same way as for subtitles. They are selectable via the audio menu, and via the remote control. All audio tracks are selectable via the remote control at all times.

    There are five audio tracks on this DVD; English Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded, Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded, Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded, and an English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded track. I listened to the English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and to the English Audio Commentary track.

    Dialogue was clear and easy to understand except for the very start of the movie, where some of Viggo Mortensen's lines were hard to make out. This may have been a delivery problem more so than anything else.

    There were no audio sync problems with this disc.

    The score by Bernard Herrmann was adapted slightly and re-recorded for this version of the movie by Danny Elfman, and it remains true to the original intent of the score, except with higher fidelity. It is a very jarring and at times frightening soundtrack which heightens the tension of the on-screen action considerably.

    The surround channels were well-used for subtle and not-so-subtle ambience, with rain and outdoor noises creating a very enveloping sound field. On occasions, disembodied voices float all around the soundfield, something clearly not possible with the original mono sound mix. Music was also mixed into the rears at times.

    The .1 channel had little use.


    There is a very good selection of extras on this disc.


    The menu design is excellent, with an introductory animation leading to a Main Menu with audio and animation. Scene selections are animated, and some of the sub-menus carried background audio as well. All-in-all, the menus are very well done indeed.

Audio Commentary - Gus Van Sant (Director), Anne Heche (Actor) & Vince Vaughn (Actor)

    This is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0, surround-encoded, with the commentary in the centre channel mixed over the top of a very low level soundtrack. The commentary itself is quite variable in quality. At times, they go off on tangents which have nothing whatsoever to do with the movie, and they spend far too much time during the commentary justifying this remake of the movie. As well as that, at times Vince goes off on immature, foul-mouthed and crude tangents several times during the commentary track, and it seems as if Gus Van Sant and Anne Heche have no idea of how to reign him in.

Featurette-Making Of: Psycho Path (29:12)

    This is an excellent featurette, well worth the time spent watching it. It is presented in a 4:3 aspect ratio and with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.

Psycho Screen Saver

Production Notes

Cast & Crew Biographies

Theatrical Trailer

Web Links

R4 vs R1

    The Region 4 and Region 1 versions of this film appear to be identically featured, so there is no particular reason to prefer one over the other.


    Psycho (1998) is a hard call. I suspect the original black and white version would be much better than this remake, which had its moments, but simply doesn't seem as creepy as it could be in black and white.

    The video quality is very good.

    The audio quality is very good.

    The extras are good.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Michael Demtschyna
17th September 1999

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-505, using S-Video output
Display Loewe Art-95 95cm direct view CRT in 16:9 mode, via the S-Video input. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital AddOn Decoder, used as a standalone processor. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Amplification 2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
Speakers Philips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Yamaha B100-115SE subwoofer