Blu-ray Review: Psycho II (Collector’s Edition)

Horror film fans are used to sequels featuring their favorite scream giants. How many times did Frankenstein get chased across the screen with pitchforks and torches? As soon as a horror film opens to a fat box office, a press release declares another installment will be on the way for next year’s Halloween. The one film that seemed immune to sequel-mania was Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. The classic scarefest had made a generation of moviegoers scared of showering without a deadbolt on the bathroom door. Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) became an icon of horror, mother issues and hotel management. People didn’t think he’d ever return to the big screen. The arrival of Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers had a few people at Universal eager to bring back their original knife wielding maniac. Luckily for the executives, Anthony Perkins was willing to resume the role. They wouldn’t have to hire Ted McGinley to replace him. Psycho II: Collector’s Edition gives the full story of what happened the day Norman Bates checked back into his motel.

Smartly the movie starts with the famous black and white shower scene so that fresh viewers can grasp the horror that Norman Bates is capable of dishing out. A bigger shock comes minutes later when, in a color modern world, Norman Bates is declared sane by a judge and thus can leave the mental hospital. Not everyone is delighted at this success story of modern psychotherapy. Lila Loomis (Psycho‘s Vera Miles) is ticked off that her sister’s killer gets to walk cause he’s playing normal. But Norman’s psychiatrist (The Sopranos‘ Robert Loggia) swears this isn’t an act. Norman is ready to be a model citizen. Part of being normal is getting a job since the Bates Motel is being managed by the slimy Warren (Hill Street Blues‘ Dennis Franz). Norman gets a position at a diner where he meets Mary (The Big Chill‘s Meg Tilly). She’s a waitress having boyfriend issues. He offers her a place to stay since he’s got a large house and a motel with plenty of rooms. Although bringing a girl home isn’t a great thing to do. Norman quickly learns that the Bates Motel does a lot of business renting rooms out with an hourly rate to hookers and people eager to get high. Warren understands what sort of people need a room in the high desert so far off the highway. But that’s not the way Norman was raised by his mother. He fires the guy and takes control of the family business. Before Warren can cash his severance check, someone that looks like an old lady cuts him up. Has Norman gone back to his old ways of dealing with problem people? There’s a lot of mystery, mayhem and madness as the film unreels. Is sweet Mary really that innocent? Is someone doing their best to either make Norman look guilty or go nuts? Or has he always been nuts? There’s a major twist at the end that involves the return of mother that’s more satisfying now than when the film ran back in 1982.

Was it a smart move to bring back Norman Bates? Did this movie destroy the legacy of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho? Will Universal executives be damned to hell for cinema sacrilege? Psycho II won’t reduce your respect for the original film. Perkins is back and playing the character of Norman Bates with the same nervous sincerity. He’s gets a bit jumpy when coming into contact with large kitchen knives. He’s still got his mother issues that turns into abnormal relationships with women. He’s got a bit of an edge on him thanks to spending 22 years looked up behind the fence of the mental hospital. While not quite a cinema classic, Psycho II is a fine piece of ’80s fright. There’s just enough properly timed comic moments to not make the film uptight. Yet at the right moments, there’s a jolt when mother attacks. It’s good to have Norman back behind the counter at the Bates Motel.

The video is 1.85:1 anamorphic. The transfer brings out Dean Cundey’s delicate work to give the image a Hitchcock feel. It’s nice to see the various details of the Bates Motel on the TV screen. The audio is DTS Master Audio 4.0 and 2.0. Things sound fine enough. The 2.0 mix works best when it comes to selecting between the two. The movie is subtitled in English.

Audio Commentary is done by screenwriter Tom Holland. He points out that Universal was prepared to dump the film to TV, but test screenings worked out well enough that they risked a theatrical release. Anthony Perkins wanted a personal moment between himself and Meg Tilly. Robert V. Galluzzo (director of The Psycho Legacy) helps steer the conversation. The duo point out the Hitchcock cameo in the movie. There’s a second and shorter audio commentary made up of vintage interviews with Anthony Perkins and Alfred Hitchcock.

Cast and Crew Interviews (35:21) contains the original electronic press kit. They do their best to show the director Richard Franklin understood Alfred Hitchcock’s approach to films. Everyone hopes the Ghost of Hitchcock won’t stab them in their sleep. There’s plenty of talk about a sequel nearly 22 years later since Hollywood likes to crank them out fast as seen by the Jaws series.

Trailers (3:43) reminds us of the original shower scene in 1960. Norman Bates is coming home and he’s in color.

TV Spots (2:01) wants you to come back to the theater to see Norman Bates come home after 22 years.

Still Gallery are dozens of production and promotional pictures featuring Norman Bates hanging around the motel.

Psycho II: Collector’s Edition brings back Norman Bates in a new sane state. But can he remain normal for too long? The Blu-ray’s bonus features remind us that there was a lot of pressure on the film to not disgrace Alfred Hitchcock’s original masterpiece of horror. But Perkins did not let down his former director by appearing in the sequel.

Scream Factory presents Psycho II: Collector’s Edition. Directed by: Richard Franklin. Screenplay by: Tom Holland. Starring: Anthony Perkins, Meg Tilly, Vera Miles, Dennis Franz and Robert Loggia. Running Time: 112 minutes. Rating: R. Released: September 24, 2013.

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