The drama about the making of Hitchcock’s Psycho, and particularly the hurdles and roadblocks that the great British director went through in order to bring it come to fruition. Hitchcock was discouraged left and right from making it. The script was seen as way too dark and perverse (especially with the lead female star getting killed off after 45 minutes), and no one wanted to see a movie based more or less on the macabre exploits of serial killer Ed Gein.
Much like its predecessor, Psycho III is a sequel that people either love or hate. While Psycho II had hints of Norman conquering Mother, and possibly gaining a new female companion, Psycho III pushes this idea further by introducing Maureen Coyle. The young ex-nun, while battling her own demons, meets Norman and the two have a bit of a brief romance. Of course, the idea that Norman has finally been released from his own torment was essentially unraveled at the end of the second film. This makes Psycho III an even more intense ride.
Taking two broken characters and throwing them together in attempt to make each other whole is usually reserved for ridiculous rom-coms or dramas. Putting this idea into Psycho III is what makes it stand out from other horror films of its time. Norman’s intense struggle to balance his overwhelming need to love Mother, while feeling such affection for another individual, is what makes Psycho III another worthy addition to the franchise.
Much like Psycho II, moments from Psycho III have stuck with me over the years. Playing on the fact that Maureen is a reminder of Marion Crane, Norman visualizes Marion’s last moments as Maureen bends over to pick up her suitcase that has fallen over. Cutting these two scenes is damn near beautiful and seeing it on the new Scream Factory Blu-ray release is stunning. In addition to this, the storage of a body in the hotel ice chest has always stayed in my mind – mostly due the Norman’s disposal of it. From pulling out the frigid body, which is stuck inside the chest, to Norman’s creepy yet understandable, sexually repressed kiss of this corpse, these moments stand out even more than the death that lead to it. The most memorable will forever be revisiting the ‘shower scene’. This time, when the curtain is pulled back, Maureen does not see Mother but Mother Mary. It is very striking when coupled with the concept of repression and guilt, and a chance for forgiveness, throughout the film.
The transfer of this film is spectacular. It brings focus to many things, especially when we are introduced to the Bates Motel once again. In the brush of the yard is the book Mary is seen reading in Psycho II, ‘In the Belly of the Beast’ – almost as if to remind us that Mary, herself, has been devoured. There are just many moments within Psycho III that pay homage to not only II but the original film. Anthony Perkins did a brilliant job directing many of the shots so that they reflect Hitchcock’s masterpiece. To have the film restored to such a lovely condition is very awesome. Of course, many of the best parts of the film are not visual, but implied with sound and this disc delivers. The mix is great, especially in that wicked ice chest scene.
The extras on this disc are a bit less than those on Psycho II. There are a few trailers and a still gallery, however the commentary with screenwriter Charles Edward Pogue is absolutely superb. I actually listened to it twice as the informative value is fantastic. There are many moments that are expanded upon with personal stories or references to the original script. It is definitely worth a listen. Along with this are interviews with Jeff Fahey, Katt Shea, Brinke Stevens and Michael Westmore. Out of all of the stories told, hearing Jeff Fahey state that Anthony Perkins’ quick transition into Norman was almost overwhelming to watch is probably the highlight of the interviews. It truly proves that these sequels would not be as respectable as they are without Perkins’ expertise.
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.
Crazy timing! Just days after I finally watch Psycho II and Psycho III for my Psycho Rankings Shout Factory’s Scream Factory announced that they are reissuing them on Blu-ray! As always with these initial announcements, details are scarce at this point.
Per their Facebook page, “Norman Bates and “mother” are coming home… to Scream Factory! 1983′s PSYCHO II and 1986′s PSYCHO III will be released on DVD and Blu-ray this Fall as Collector’s Editions. No other details to report at this time so stay tune in the next few months for more developments on these great blood-curdling films!”
What kind of features would you like to see? READ MORE
The season finale of A&E’s “Bates Motel” airs tonight, so I figured I’d take a look back at the film that spawned it, Psycho, and the modest film franchise that followed.
Most of these movies were holding up fairly well in my memory except for Psycho 2 and Psycho 3, so I re-watched those over the weekend and was actually fairly surprised by how much I enjoyed them. When you think about it, the Psycho universe certainly has more solid installments than something like the Howling franchise, which is kind of neat. It’s just a bummer that the mythology of Norman Bates and the Bates Motel doesn’t really lend itself to much scrutiny (the minimal use of this stuff is part of what makes the original film so brilliant).
Head below for my ranking of The 5 ‘Psycho’ Films From Worst To Best!!! READ MORE
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment released Sacha Gervasi’s Hitchcock on Blu-ray and DVD (and iTunes) last week. To that end, I recently chatted with James D’Arcy (In Their Skin) about the weight of portraying none other than Anthony Perkins in the film.
Anthony Hopkins stars as Hitchcock, along with Helen Mirren as his wife during the making of Hitchcock’s seminal movie Psycho. Scarlett Johansson plays Janet Leigh while Jessica Biel portrays Vera Miles. Danny Huston, Toni Collette, Jessica Biel, Michael Stuhlbarg, Michael Wincott, Richard Portnow and Kurtwood Smith also star.
The project is based on the non-fiction book by Stephen Rebello that tracks how Hitchcock, at the height of his game as a director, decided to make a “lowly” horror movie. No studio wanted to touch it initially, so Hitchcock scrounged for financing by himself. The movie, of course, became one of his biggest hits and one of the most influential of all time.
Head inside for the interview! READ MORE
One month after the events of Psycho II, Norman is still running the Bates Motel along with Mother. Things are going fine until Norman falls in love with a fallen nun, takes in a greedy drifter, a nosy reporter sticks her nose where it doesn’t belong and a series of murders begins once again.
After twenty-two years of psychiatric care, Norman Bates attempts to return to a life of solitude… but the specters of his crimes — and his mother — continue to haunt him.