The Psycho Legacy – DVD Review

Fans of a cult movie whine about the documentary found in the bonus features section on a DVD. They feel the cast and crew stories have been scrubbed to not upset the studio brass. The tawdry tales have been snipped for the sake of a happy family attitude. There’s no rule stating that the documentary on the DVD is the last word. A fan can put together their own interviews and insights dealing with a cult film as long as copyrights aren’t violated. The Psycho Legacy does exactly that. Director Robert Galluzzo and his crew interview numerous people and find archival clips to explore the world of Norman Bates.

The Psycho Legacy is an ample supplement for those buying the new Blu-ray of Psycho. Laurent Bouzereau’s feature length documentary on the Blu-ray focuses on Hitchcock and his original film. But what about the three films that Anthony Perkins made as Norman Bates? Twenty three years after he tucked away the knife, the actor became Norman Bates once more for Psycho II. And he’d do it two more times in Psycho III and Psycho IV: The Beginning. Quite a few fans of the original know nothing about these later sequels. While other franchises have been treated to luxury boxsets, Universal has done its best to separate Hitchcock’s Psycho from the other three titles in the series. You can only get the later trio in a low budget Triple Feature set. It’s a barebones affair so The Psycho Legacy comes off as the lost bonus DVD.

Galluzzo doesn’t give us the same slick product produced by Bouzereau’s studio assisted documentary. This is a wonderfully wooly affair shot on video. He interviews Henry Thomas, Diana Scarwid, Tom Holland, Mick Garris, and Charles Edward Pogue among cast, crew and fans. The most insightful tales involve how Anthony Perkins knew what he wanted and how to make it happen when given the chance to direct Psycho III. He should have directed more. Perkins tells his part of the tale through vintage footage shot at a horror convention. He’s in a great mood and ready to share his view of Norman Bates.

The nice thing is the lack of talk about Gus Van Sant’s shot for shot remake. When is the last time anyone referred to Vince Vaughn as Norman Bates? That’s a connection that would stump contestants as a Final Jeopardy question. Although there’s probably one fanatic eager to make his own documentary about it.

There are missing elements from Psycho that would have been useful to illustrate a few stories from the interviewees. But odds are incredibly high that you already have them on the various Psycho DVD upgrades that have been released since 1998. The Psycho Legacy gives a sense of Perkins as an actor who became overwhelmed by a role, but learned to embrace it. He didn’t mind working the night shift at the Bates Motel.

The video is 1.33:1 full frame. There’s black cropping bars on some images. The production looks like a low-fi labor of love so it’s not a polished, slick special. The audio is Dolby Digital Stereo. For the most part it’s merely people talking so there’s nothing too dynamic about it.

Eight deleted scenes and nine extended interviews let us spend a little more time with the folks talking about their involvement with the movies. The largest chunk is Mick Garris going on for 14 minutes.

Anthony Perkins Q&A (41:57) is the complete video of the actor talking about his Norman Bates’ experiences at a horror convention. The camera was held by someone in the audience. You might not want to stare at the screen.

Psycho Reunion Panel (6:37) is the audio of a chat with Kurt Paul, Hilton Green and others with still shots of the meeting.

A Tour of the Bates Motel (2:32) lets Galluzzo visit the backlot of Universal. The motel and mother’s house were used in the later films.

Revisiting Psycho II (15:28) lets writer Tom Holland and editor Andrew London discuss reviving Norman Bates.

Shooting Psycho II (19:05) finally gives us cinematographer Dean Cundey (Halloween).

A Visit with Psycho Memorabilia Collector Guy Thorpe (6:48) is full of surprises. He’s even collected Mother.

Norman Bates in Print: Robert Bloch, Author of Psycho (12:27) discusses the book and its author.

Psycho on the Web (3:43) introduces the webmaster of

The Hyaena Gallery Presents Serial-Killer-Inspired Art (11:58) gives us what’s promised.

The Psycho Legacy is perfect for the Norman Bates fan that wants more than the bonus features on the Psycho Blu-ray. This is the missing element from the DVD that collects the final three Psycho films that featured Anthony Perkins. The second disc contains plenty of bonus footage to add to the experience. This is truly for people who are eager to make a reservation at the Bates Motel.

Shout! Factory presents The Psycho Legacy. Directed by: Robert Galluzzo. Starring: Anthony Perkins, Mick Garris and Tom Holland. Running Time: 87 minutes. Released on DVD: October 19, 2010.

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