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My Sister, My Love

It's no surprise that prolific super-novelist Joyce Carol Oates, with her appetite for revealing Gothic horrors in family sagas, would choose to pick up the JonBenet Ramsey case for her latest true-crime effort. (1995's "Zombie," about Jeffrey Dahmer, was another notable one.) Beauty pageants become ice-skating competitions and suburban Colorado is swapped for old-money New Jersey in My Sister, My Love, but the disclaimer at the front of the book only makes it clearer how closely the story following hews to what is known about the still-unsolved murder case—and how unsatisfying people still find its meager facts. Oates' novel explores the Ramsey case through an observer whom even dedicated CNN viewers might not have been aware of: the victim's older brother. Now 19 and estranged from his parents, Skyler Rampike is holed up in a dingy New Brunswick boarding house, writing a tell-all whose copious footnotes, crossed-out lines,...
See full article at The AV Club »

DVD Cover Art For The Serial Killer Collection

Update: We now have the cover art inside: Arriving on DVD June 24 from Lionsgate Home Entertainment is The Serial Killer Collection, which features three terrifying films based on the true stories of some of America's most notorious serial killers. This DVD triple feature includes three heart pounding films - Ulli Lommel's Zodiac Killer, Ulli Lommel's Black Dahlia and Ulli Lommel's Green River Killer. The release of The Serial Killer Collection will coincide with Lionsgate's DVD release of Raising Jeffrey Dahmer, a fascinating look at Jeffrey Dahmer's life beginning with his early years. Read on for more details on each release.
See full article at Bloody-Disgusting.com »

Larry King Backs Out of Moore Interview

Chat-show host Larry King has confused controversial director Michael Moore by inexplicably ending talks to book the film-maker for his prime-time talk show. King's producers were negotiating to have the Fahrenheit 9/11 star on the Larry King Live show - and even told Moore's agents they wanted a White House representative on the show to rebut the film's anti-Bush comments - but King's team have refused to continue with the booking, raising suspicions the president's advisors urged King to reject the outspoken political activist. CNN spokesman Matt Furman says, "We don't get into the details of our bookings, but we were considering Moore. His not coming on had nothing to do with the White House. We'd love to have him on someday." White House spokesman Trent Duffy says, "The White House does not do movie reviews." Recent hour-long guests on the show have included the parents of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer and risque psychic Char Margolis.

Film review: 'Psycho'

If it's drab to begin with, adding color does not heighten tension or increase drama. That's the problem with this new, colored "Psycho"; the grainy, Gothic textures that were wickedly pitched to high-crazy dimension in Alfred Hitchcock's classic have been dulled and mottled by the use of dull grays and browns.

And with director Gus Van Sant's faithful, frame-for-frame recapitulation, "Psycho" has failed to find a new edge as a horror film in this day and age. Despite an eerily rounded lead performance by Vince Vaughn in the Tony Perkins role, "Psycho" is unlikely to attract more than the curioso and cineaste crowd -- who, in the characteristic reactionary manner of cutting-edge folk, will likely niggle about this film's up-to-date perfidiousness but complain rightfully about its overall moribund nature.

If you've been to a more than two-day film school, you know the story: sexually unfulfilled secretary on the lam (Anne Heche), after absconding with $400,000 from her boss, stops for a night at an off-the-beaten-track motel. Down-home, decent-seeming motelier Norman Vaughn) takes her in and offers to bring her dinner. He's a benign, kindly sort who, as we soon find out, has all sorts of demented mother-son problems.

Originally based on the atrocities committed by late-'50s Wisconsin serial killer Ed Gein -- a reclusive nonentity who butchered his mother and made table lamps from her skin -- the scenario is a provocative insight into schizophrenia. It predated Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy, Wayne Williams, John Wayne Gacy and all those murdering maniacs we take much more for granted today. Truly, "Psycho" was a real shocker in its day, and marketeers capitalized on this with wild ad campaigns -- "No one admitted after the first 10 minutes, etc." In this heinous era, well, you'd probably have trouble making a tabloid or a court show with such a story.

Indeed, although Van Sant has distilled the inherent creepiness of the setting and laid bare the inner surface mania of Norman Bates' crazed murdering, by playing this classic so close to the vest, he has also failed to capitulate the story line to contemporary dimensions. Younger audiences, perhaps never having seen the original, will be disappointed that, say, Norman is not dragged-up enough for his dementia; in short, this Norman Bates, even by the loony, boy-next-door standards of serial killers, is presented in such old-fashioned garb and limned with such over-obviousness in his clothing and his belongings that audiences will be disappointed by its lack of subtlety.

In short, this new "Psycho" is not crazy enough. Unlike the original, this one packs no surprise, and by its faithful aesthetic, Van Sant has paradoxically failed to convey the essence of the Hitckcock's bizarre creativity.

Still, its smartly done in many aspects and, once again, screenwriter Joseph Stefano has deftly re-detailed this horrifying psychological tale. Nonetheless, the distillation at this time lacks the original's bravura and impact. It's still a brilliant tale, but a faithful remake does not transcend -- and certainly not equal -- the original.

Fair-cheeked Vaughn is well-cast as Norman Bates, a frightening boy-man with killer rage. As the Janet Leigh character, Heche's birdlike mannerisms and nervous peccadilloes make her a credible victim, but we don't empathize with her character as much as we did with Leigh's glamorous amorality.

The supporting characters are generally well chosen, particularly William H. Macy, whose intrusive, pesky performance in the Martin Balsam role of a private detective looking into the whereabouts of the murdered woman is perfect. Other cast choices, such as Philip Baker Hall as a meat-and-potatoes sheriff, are similarly on the mark and add textural oddity to this twisted tale.

Praise to Danny Elfman for his musical production and adaptation; Bernard Herrmann's assaultive, sharp score is truly one of moviedom's all-time classics and still brings uneasy dimension to this retro-ripper. Unfortunately, other technical contributions are, alas, faithful to the original -- they add little juice or verve to this true-to-the-line but unfaithful-to-the-spirit regurgitation.

PSYCHO

Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment present

Producers: Brian Grazer, Gus Van Sant

Director: Gus Van Sant

Screenwriter: Joseph Stefano

Executive producer: Dany Wolf

Director of photography: Chris Doyle

Production design: Tom Foden

Editor: Amy Duddleston

Costume design: Beatrix Aruna Pasztor

Music produced and adapted by: Danny Elfman

Music: Bernard Herrmann

Based on the novel by: Robert Bloch

Associate producer: Joseph Whitaker

Sound mixer: Ron Judkins

Color/stereo

Cast:

Norman Bates: Vince Vaughn

Marion Crane: Anne Heche

Lila Crane: Julianne Moore

Sam Loomis: Viggo Mortensen

Milton Arbogast: William H. Macy

Dr. Simon: Robert Forster

Sheriff Chambers: Philip Baker Hall

Mrs. Chambers: Anne Haney

Running time -- 106 minutes

MPAA rating: R

See also

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