Shout Factory has finally released two curiosities from Universal Pictures, Psycho II and Psycho III, on Blu-ray.
The results are amazing. I am a huge fan of the Psycho series, although I have to admit that I was slightly hesitant when I first found out that Psycho had a sequel, let alone two. I was working at Movie Gallery as a video store clerk when I first discovered them. I’d pass by them in the horror section and think to myself, “I would never waste my time on those! How dare they attempt to cash in on Hitchcock’s classic with two stupid sequels?! Ha!” Little did I know at the time that curiosity would eventually get the best of me, and I would take both of them home on a dark and stormy night. I watched them both back to back. And, what do you know? I loved them.
Psycho II takes place 22 years after the events from the first film. Norman Bates has been released from prison, much to the disapproval of Lila Loomis, the sister of one of Norman’s victims, Marion Crane – who met her demise in the notorious shower scene in Hitchcock’s original classic. Norman moves back in to the Bates mansion, and he attempts to live a normal life. He takes a job as a short order cook at the local greasy spoon diner across the street, and befriends a young waitress named Mary Samuels, as well as an older lady named Emma Spool.
After her boyfriend dumps her, Norman offers to let Mary stay with him at his place. She is hesitant at first, but she finally accepts the offer. Both she and Norman begin to develop a tender friendship. Meanwhile, Norman resumes his duties as manager of the motel. Things seem great for Norman, until the ghosts of the past begin to haunt him, and certain disturbing events cause him to question his sanity yet again. It doesn’t help matters that Lila Loomis is constantly on his case, which only serves to disturb Norman’s sense of inner peace even more. It’s only a matter of time before Mother starts to call. Blood will be spilt…and lots of it.
Directed by Richard Franklin from a script by Tom Holland, Psycho II is a refreshingly smart sequel, full of twists and turns that are sure to keep you on the edge of your seat throughout. The film also boasts a superb score from the late Jerry Goldsmith. It is a wonderfully creepy mystery film that delivers an unforgettable ending. Anthony Perkins returns as Norman in an excellent performance, chilling us to the bone while winning our sympathy. Norman has always been a tragic character, and Anthony Perkins constantly reminds us that Norman is a victim as well.
Psycho III was directed by Anthony Perkins himself, and stars Diana Scarwid and Jeff Fahey in supporting roles.
The film begins as Maureen Coyle, a suicidal nun, makes an unsuccessful attempt to jump off of the tower at a local convent, resulting in the death of one of her superiors. She flees the scene, and hitches a ride with a jerk named Duane. When Duane tries to get frisky with Maureen later on that night during a rainstorm, she protests, and he kicks her out on the side of the road in the middle of a torrential downpour.
The next day, both Duane and Maureen end up at the Bates Motel, where Norman is busy poisoning the bird feeder in order to maintain his special hobby: amateur taxidermy. Yes, Norman still loves to stuff things. Norman employs Duane just as Maureen arrives on the scene, tired and weary from a nice long walk. At first glance, Norman becomes both infatuated with and terrified by Maureen. Not only does she look just like his favorite victim, Marion Crane, the two women also share the same initials. And, just like that, Norman’s mind begins to go to scary places – and Mother is re-awakened. In fact, Mother has already grown tired of that little “slut”, Maureen, and she starts threatening to get rid of her once and for all. Norman is torn between his obvious affections for Maureen and his compulsive desire to honor his Mother’s wishes. Later on that day, a journalist named Tracy Venable arrives on the scene, asking the townsfolk about Norman’s past. She is convinced that Norman has relapsed and is determined to prove it. As if that weren’t troubling enough, that no-good redneck, Duane, starts pocketing money from the register and begins to meddle in Norman’s affairs. In case you were wondering, Duane is spurred on by Tracy, who informs him of Norman’s psychological history. When a group of football loving tourists arrive at the Bates Motel for a night of sex and drunken shenanigans, Mother decides to make an appearance. The results are ugly. All the while, Norman begins to woo Maureen, whose affections for Norman have grown considerably.
Will Maureen survive? Or will she meet an untimely death at the hands of Mother? You’ll have to watch for yourself and find out!
Psycho III is quite a treat, and Anthony Perkins directs with confidence. This was his first and last directorial effort. He gives the film a tongue-in-cheek comic tone that was largely absent from the first two films, making Psycho III even more unsettling – if only because we find ourselves laughing at things that aren’t really funny, like murder and nuns falling off of bell towers. The dialogue is horrendous at times, such as when Duane kicks Maureen out of his nasty truck at the beginning of the film, after she resists his slimy advances – “You coulda been comin’ instead of goin’!” Other than that, the Psycho III is a fun-filled romp, featuring a nice eighties synth-score from Carter Burwell, of all people!
The good folks at Shout Factory have given both Psycho II and Psycho III long awaited Blu-ray releases, and they are chock full of special features – including audio commentaries with screenwriters, Tom Holland and Charles Edward Pogue, cast interviews, theatrical trailers, and TV spots. The transfers look fantastic, and the films have never sounded better.
If you are fan of these films, you owe it to yourself to purchase them. Highly recommended.