There is something to be said about Psycho II. You either love it or hate it. After Psycho changed the way movies were shown in theatres in 1960, it was absolutely ridiculous to think that anything could ever follow up such a masterpiece. Yet, in 1983, Universal returned to Bates Motel by letting Norman Bates out of the nuthouse. And the rest is history.
No sequel could ever top the momentum of its predecessor and it is very rare when they even come close. However, with the superb thespian talents of Anthony Perkins, Psycho II is a great 80’s style follow up. After 22 years, Norman is released from the mental institution he was put in. Lila Loomis (Vera Miles), Marion Crane’s sister, is set on sending him back. Meanwhile, Norman gets a job at a local diner and befriends a young waitress, Mary (Meg Tilly). Soon, notes from Mother begin to pop up and people start to go missing. It is a simple plot yet with strong actors, it has thrills and scares that are respectful of the original film.
There are moments within Psycho II that keep it between Hitchcock’s classy 1960 style and a slasher flick of the 80’s. Two moments that I have always kept in my brain over the years are the fruit cellar murder and the overflowing toilet. What makes the fruit cellar one for the memory bank is the fact it is much like Hitchcock’s original shower scene. We only briefly see the stabbing in this instance, and yet it is cut with jars of fruit being knocked off the shelves – as if they replace the biological elements that might be seen. It is a fact that to this day whenever I see garbanzo beans, I think of this scene – and it sort of makes me sick. The toilet overflowing is another notable memory due to the fact that the blood in this scene is absolutely perfect. Everything: the color, the look and the weight of it. It IS blood, it is real, and it is coming in copious amounts from the toilet and bathtub drain. While Psycho II made an impression upon me as a kid, forgotten, for some reason, is an incredibly shocking scene with Lila Loomis. I am honestly not sure how I did not remember it, but seeing it now I was probably nearly as traumatized as I was when I first saw it.
These little memorable touches are what make Psycho II a fun, original sequel, and are definitely reason it deserved a Blu-ray collector’s edition release. The transfer of the film, while a bit grainy, looks fantastic. Dark scenes, like the fruit cellar, are brightened and details are restored. This definitely benefits those who become nostalgic by the items in Norman’s kitchen cupboards and all of that old packaging. The sound is great, too. The mix makes some choice sounds a bit more unnerving and makes scenes like Lila and Mary fighting in the hotel lobby while a staff member vacuums nearby a bit more special. The movie quality itself is worth the price, but Scream Factory adds in some great bonus features to go with it.
There is a trailer and a TV spot, but audio commentary with screenwriter Tom Holland, and Rob Galluzzo, is a true delight to listen to. The moments they reference are some of the best within the film, like a key scene in which Meg Tilly’s character is brought to tears. Normally commentaries are not my cup of tea, but this was especially informative in a relaxed sort of way. Also included are original video and audio interviews with Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles and director Richard Franklin. The vintage videos are VHS quality – as in an EP tape that has been under the couch for years – and have not been cleaned. The audio glitches at times, but the entertainment value is worth it. The fact that those participating agreed that the movie was going to work – and was strong enough to go forth with – makes the feature a nice watch.
Psycho II was described by Anthony Perkins as “a logical extension of the first story”. It is definitely an acquired taste, but for fans this Blu-ray is a must have.