Remaking a bona fide classic is never easy but here's how Bates Motel season 5 episode 1 did a much better job reimagining Psycho than Gus Van Sant's 1998 version. The original Psycho shocked audiences with its twists and violence back in 1960 and would become the progenitor of the slasher genre, inspiring movies like Halloween and Friday The 13th. The movie was produced in a time before sequels were in vogue, which is why it took 22 years for Anthony Perkins to return for Psycho 2.
Two further sequels would follow, with 1990's Psycho IV: The Beginning being Perkins last time playing the role. There was also an ill-fated attempt to turn the franchise in a TV show with Bates Motel, a 1987 pilot starring Bud Cort, Lori Petty, and Jason Bateman (Arrested Development). The bizarre premise of this pilot finds a friend of Norman Bates inheriting his motel after he passes away and discovering "Mother" might still be haunting it. The pilot received terrible reviews and a series failed to materialize.
The Bates Motel title was revived for a 2013 A&E TV show which depicted the complex relationship between Norman (Freddie Highmore) and mother Norma, played by Vera Farmiga (Godzilla: King Of The Monsters). The show was a slow-burning psychological thriller and featured great performances and writing. Bates Motel also took its time reaching the logical endpoint of the story, which was remaking the original Psycho. This moment finally came with the fifth and final season, with the events of the season 4 finale laying the groundwork.
Bates Motel season 5 episode 1 "Dark Paradise" opens two years after Norma's death, with Norman keeping her body preserved in his basement. Of course, his murderous alter-ego "Mother" is controlling his actions and occasionally surfaces to kill those who threaten or otherwise distract him. The fifth season isn't the first attempt to remake Psycho, following Gus Van Sant's (Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot) infamous 1998 remake.
Van Sant was a huge fan of the original so he decided to try and recreate Hitchcock's film almost shot for shot. The film came with a few modern-day concessions like being filmed in color and with slightly more gore, but Psycho 1998 is essentially a photocopy. The movie starred Vince Vaughn as Norman and the remake also featured Julianne Moore and Viggo Mortensen (The Lord Of The Rings). Despite a big budget and a great cast, the remake is viewed as a failed and somewhat pointless experiment, since all it does is emulate the original with a few choice tweaks.
Bates Motel season 5 episode 1 instead offers a fresh angle on the story and takes audiences on a journey they haven't experienced before. The show naturally had the benefit of a prior four seasons of character development, but even so, Bates Motel season 5's "Dark Paradise" took characters and scenarios already known to fans and used them as a jumping off point. The final season reimagines Psycho from the ground up, offering subversions of the famous shower scene and Norman's inevitable downfall.
Bates Motel season 5 episode 1 proved it was possible to remake a classic story from a new perspective, whereas the 1998 remake was content to offer up the same story to lesser impact.