But according to newspaper and Hollywood trade reports, the carbon-copy remake is the real deal.
Van Sant, the stylish director of Drugstore Cowboy and Oscar nominee for Good Will Hunting, will use Hitchcock's old script and camera setups. He's even supposed to abide by Hitch's 30-day shoot schedule. And the plan is for the finished product to clock in at 109 minutes--the same (natch) as the 1960 film.
The only way you'll be able to tell the difference between Psycho (the original) and Psycho (the duplicate) is color film, new locations and a new, as-yet unsigned cast, invariably described as "young" and "hip."
"We're actually making essentially the same movie," producer Brian Grazer tells USA Today.
To which, The MacGuffin, a Website for Hitchcock scholars, today replies: "We're not sure what that will prove!"
Universal, the studio behind Psycho, its two theatrical sequels and TV-movie prequel (all with the late Anthony Perkins as Motel Hell keeper Norman Bates), presumably hopes it'll prove profitable.
"No one has ever done anything like this," said Grazer, a Hollywood veteran who produced Liar Liar and can be trusted on such things.
Even with Van Sant trying to channel Hitchcock with every frame, the all-new Psycho won't feel like a retread, he said.
"If you want to use, say, Drew Barrymore in the Janet Leigh role, she's going to exude something different," he told the paper.
As Hitch might have said himself on his 1950s TV show: Veeery interesting.
Actually, Hitchcock, who died in 1980, once wrote that he wanted to make Psycho in color but figured all the bloody red blood wouldn't go over big with censors.
Here's guessing Van Sant won't run into that roadblock.