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With the release of Gus Van Sant's new "improved" version of Psycho, the debate rages as to whether the remake should ever have been filmed! We here at RLK! believe that you shouldn't mess with Hitchcock - especially with PSYCHO, *the* best film ever made! Now, our very own Richard Laymon, fresh from a screening of the film, lets you know his thoughts on the matter. And, it seems, he's as damn mad as the rest of us about the situation!


Elegy for PSYCHO

by
Richard Laymon


Gus Van Sant's version of PSYCHO might be a fine film except for one thing: it's an imitation.

A pretty well-done imitation, granted. At least if you choose to ignore a few peculiarities/flaws/quirks regarding such matters as telephones, guest registers, etc.

Regardless of any other considerations, it has one over-riding problem.

It is a knock-off, a rip-off.

It ain't the Rolex, it's someone else's copy of the real thing -- a homage to the Rolex, if you well.

Yeah, right.

A lot of people in the horror community are standing behind this knock-off Psycho. At least it's a horror movie from a major studio, they say. And at least it's not another one of those moronic teenage slasher flicks. If it's successful, it'll put out the message that horror for grown-ups isn't dead. It might even lead to more horror movies. We should be applauding the endeavour.

Wrong!

The endeavour should not be applauded, it should be despised.

I think a remake might be completely justifiable if the original version of a film has lots of room for improvement. (Hitchock sometimes remade his own movies). But we almost never see new versions of lousy films. Instead, the rip-off artists choose classics. They do High Sierra or The Thing or Invasion of the Body Snatchers or Cape Fear or Rear Window or The Getaway. Or, for godsake, Psycho. Great movies.

Remaking them not only serves no decent purpose, but in most cases it verges on sacrilege.

Sacrilege? Chill, Laymon. You're taking this way too seriously. We're only talking about movies here.

Yeah, movies.

I'm talking about art. And the desecration of our heritage.

Let me state one thing very clearly: A KNOCK-OFF IS NOT THE REAL THING!!!

People are taking credit -- and making lots of money -- by producing copies of great art.

You might think, "What's the harm?" The original work is still there.

Not quite.

Because of Gus Van Sant's Psycho, the real Psycho will never be the same.

You doubt me? Consider this: Psycho has lost its title.

Whenever we discuss Psycho now and in years to come, we'll have to specify which version. Psycho will no longer exist as a separate entity. It'll have to be called "the original Hitchcock Psycho," or "the black-and white version" or "the one with Tony Perkins and Janet Leigh and Martin Balsam."

Shouldn't the original Hitchcock version of Psycho have deserved to stand alone?

Obviously not.

We live in an age of rip-offs: people with little or no talent making names and bucks for themselves by copying the work of others.

I argue this: Psycho should have been allowed the dignity to continue as a classic film without having an imitation riding piggy-back. It is a masterpiece and it should never be confused with a paint-by-the-numbers copy that required no brilliance, not an ounce of creativity or originality.

The same goes for Cape Fear, The Getaway, and all the other films that've had been victims of the re-make industry.

If vandals find themselves compelled to rip off the great cinematic art of our country, can't they at least have the decency to change the title?

To answer my own question, of course not. Because changing the title would defeat the purpose: which is to take advantage of the original artist's genius and travel as far as possible on his or her coat tails.

No, it's worse than that.

It's a lot worse than "riding piggyback" or "riding coat tails." Know what it really is? Let's face facts, here. In spite of whatever denials might be made by those behind the remake of Psycho, the film's REAL purpose is to USURP the original with a fresh, new, color version.

To replace it.

They want all of us -- and our children and grandchildren -- to stop watching Hitchcock's Psycho and watch Van Sant's Psycho instead.

And that is exactly what will happen.

Sure, people will probably continue to have opportunities to view the real Psycho. (God, I hope so. But maybe not. Universal has already put a hold on distribution of the original.)

But even if we are still able to view Hitchock's Psycho, the imitation will always be around. In years to come, people will be watching the knock-off on late-night television, renting it from the local video store, picking it up off their satelite dishes, whatever, INSTEAD of the real thing.

Adios, Alfred.

Mission accomplished, vandals.

P.S. If any of you think the Van Sant version of PSYCHO is a good idea, maybe you would like ME to write a new version of SALEM'S LOT. A shot-by-shot remake, a real duplicate copied straight from Mr. King's book. I'll just change a few names, maybe.

And then I'll get my butt sued for plagerism.



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