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by Garon Cockrell
31 Days of Scream-O-Ween! - Psycho 2
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Oct. 22, 2013 5:16 p.m.

By David Massey
must have been the first word that came to mind for any discerning cinema-goer
when Universal announced they were making a sequel to Alfred Hitchcock’s
incomparable ‘Psycho’. Now, 30-some-odd years later, the film is little more
than a blip lost in the blur of the 1980’s horror extravaganza. It’s easy to
forget that ‘Psycho 2’ was one of the most successful summer blockbusters of
1983 (opening the same weekend as ‘Return of the Jedi’) and Scream Factory’s
Blu-ray Collector’s Edition is here to remind us why this ambitious thriller
deserves to be remembered. <>
<> Psycho 2
The Film:<>
<> Anyone that
was alive to see the original ‘Psycho’ in the theater has never forgotten its
effect on them. There had never been a movie so visceral and, in 1960, even the
subject matter – serial killers – was a cultural revelation. It’s important,
with ‘Psycho 2’, that we start from this perspective; no matter who was behind
it or how altruistic their intentions were, it could never possibly live up to
the original film. That said, and when looked at as a stand-alone effort, what
director Richard Franklin (‘Patrick’ / ‘Cloak & Dagger’), writer Tom
Holland (‘Child’s Play’ as director/ ‘Fright Night’), and cinematographer Dean Cundey
(‘Halloween’ / ‘Jurassic Park’) – and let’s not forget Jerry Goldsmith –
accomplished is an meticulous thriller/slasher cross-over with a dark sense of
humor and one of the creepiest movie performances of all time in spotlight.<>
<> The tag-line
alone is enough to make you shudder (‘It’s 22 Years Later, and Norman Bates is
Coming Home’) and the film starts with Norman (who else but Anthony Perkins)
being released from prison, judged to have been restored to sanity and ready to
integrate back into society. With ranting petition, Vera Miles’ returning
character, Lila Loomis (sister of Janet Leigh’s character from the original),
does everything she can to get Norman
put back in prison. That is the crux of the story and the kindling for
(admittedly) more twists and turns than any film should ever take on.<>
<> I’m a bit
on-the-fence about reviewing the copious plot points in ‘Psycho 2’ as they are
all set up to be big reveals and, aside from the final absurd ‘ah-ha’ scene, they’re
all pretty darn good surprises. What I will do is point out the most
interesting aspect of the film which is Norman himself. In the second half of
‘Psycho’, Hitchcock toyed with the idea of making Norman sympathetic; he was
practically the protagonist in the end. In ‘Psycho 2’, there’s no question, you
spend the majority of the film rooting for this man who is trying so hard to
keep on the straight-and-narrow. It’s not too much of a spoiler to say that his
efforts fail – with no small help from a very young Meg Tilly (‘The Big Chill’
/ ‘Body Snatchers’) – and when they do, Perkins absolutely shines in the role
he was born to play. There are moments in this film that are far creeper than
anything Hitchcock could have imagined.<>
The Disc:<>
<> The image
looks pretty excellent; so much so that there were one or two little Easter Eggs
hidden within the film that I’d absolutely never noticed on my old DVD copy.
Universal would not give Scream Factory the rights to commission a new cover
for the Collector’s Edition but the original one-sheet that they’ve settled for
is classic anyway; no great loss.<>
<> There are
some original 1983 interviews with the cast and crew but, frankly, the features
aren’t spectacular. They are accessed via the Bates Motel Sign menu (which I
loved) and the highlight has to be the commentary with writer Tom Holland. This
man is a legend in the genre and ‘Psycho 2’ was a bit of a writing opus for
him. It was a homage to Hitchcock and, just starting out in the ‘big leagues’,
Holland had a lot to prove. You can still hear his passion for the project as
he reminisces. It’s amazing to think that this might have been a Cable-TV movie
starring Christopher Walken as Norman and Princess Leia in Meg Tilly’s role;
that’s an alternative universe I wouldn’t mind visiting.<>
Audio Commentary with
Screenwriter Tom Holland
Vintage Video & Audio
Interviews with Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles, and Director Richard Franklin
Theatrical Trailer & TV
Stills Gallery<>
The Specs:<>
1080p High-Definition Widescreen 1.85:1
DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and 2.0
English Only Audio & Subtitles
Original Release: 1983
Runtime: 113 Minutes
Rating: R<>
  • Story: A / By the end, there is a sense that the filmmakers
  • painted themselves into a corner – entirely cancelling out the Psycho
    mythos in the doing – but, the core story is the perfect extension of the
    original film.<>
  • Presentation: C / The film looks good and the menu is fun but
  • there’s just not much in the way of extras.<>
  • Scare Factor: B / For Anthony Perkins’ performance alone, this is
  • definitely scary.<>
  • Gore Factor: B / There’s nothing subtle about 1980’s slasher
  • films and the deaths are as explicit as you could hope for.<>
  • Repeat view-ability: B / As a kid, I watched this film every
  • Halloween for 10 years as part of the WPIX NYC Channel 11 ‘Shocktober’ series
    and it’s only with age that I forgot how much fun it is.
    Add Psycho 2 to your collection, click HERE!
    Check out yesterday's Scream Factory review, They Live!

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