Everybody wants to poke a finger into Psycho, trying to reimagine the creepy recipe that officially put calling your mom “Mother” out of style. Some of the prequels, sequels, and spin-offs (including 1987’s Bates Motel) were OK, some were bad, and all of them seemed to warn “Don’t mess with Hitchcock.” Something about the original film invites audiences to B.S. forever about Freudian themes and shower trivia, and I guess if we’re so reluctant to let go of it, it makes sense that we keep trying to stick it in a petri dish. We have an innate preoccupation with diagnosing evil: Is it innate? Can it be caused? And which is worse? Anthony Perkins’s Norman was tragically fascinating, almost sympathetic. As “Mother,” he’s a monster; as Norman, his impulses are to prevent his dark side from taking over. The idea that he was once somehow pristine, or at least only as garden-variety creepy as anyone else, and became damaged by a platonic (or otherwise) dysfunctional love tango with his mother is an intriguing knot to untangle.
Which is smarter, to rent or to buy? You know what, screw it: Which is scarier?
Buying a house is freaky because of the symbolic permanence and the unknowns. Even if you drop three grand for inspections (general, mold, asbestos, foundation, sewer line, electrical, geographical, environmental, spiritual, astrological), there still exist a litany of nightmare scenarios that might happen between when you get the deed and when you pass it on to some other naive home-buyer, what-ifs that appear like mirages on page 70 of the escrow documents next to your initials. The roof could collapse, all of the antique doorknobs could fall off, and the maid you inherit with the property could be an undead shape-shifter; worst of all, you can’t call your landlord to exorcise the boogeymaids and patch the tiles. There’s also the question of time, the cumulative history of a property that may add up to a cursed 8,000-square-foot plot as well as your own future in it, a 30-year mortgage that buyers in an insecure housing market might not jump at the opportunity to take off your hands. There is a basement with blood stains on the floor or a neighbor whose ghostly children won’t stop creeping in your windows and corrupting your sulky teenage daughter. A giant Taco Bell might be erected outside your bedroom window, or you may be seduced by a man in a rubber suit who impregnates you with devil spawn. And still you owe the taxes. There is no one to complain to, no one to blame but yourself.
When Scream 4 opened last spring, it was less a film than a referendum ... and audiences voted no. The film grossed just $40 million, seemingly dooming the franchise. Fortunately for Ghostface and Sydney and Gale and Dewey and whoever else survived Scream 4 — I saw it opening night, and I can't remember much other than Hayden Panettiere's weird mumsy haircut — the franchise will survive, but not, for the moment, on the big screen: MTV is adapting it as a TV series.