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

Psycho-IIIn 1983, the unthinkable happened.  A sequel to Psycho?  Blasphemy!  How dare they spit on Hitchcock’s grave!  That kind of attitude led critics and moviegoers to enter the theater with fists up ready to find any reason to tear the film down.  Reviews and feelings from the time this film was released definitely reflect such an attitude.  Psycho II is actually quite a good sequel and film in its own right.  Its not as perfectly crafted step by step as its predecessor, but we’re talking about following up Hitchcock in his prime here.  Psycho II brings one back to a world and characters that feel naturally progressed by 22 years.  While the film’s craft isn’t the master stroke of one of cinema’s all time greats, it definitely feels comfortable, at home and within the same world as the first entry.

Psycho II B

Film  

22 years following the events of Psycho, Norman Bates is declared sane and allowed to rejoin society despite the protesting and petitioning of Lila Loomis (Lila Crane in the first film).  Norman returns to his old home and is provided a job at the local diner.  Things seem to be a challenge, but going well for Norman as he befriends a young coworker with some troubles of her own.  But soon, handwritten messages and phone calls from Mother have Norman questioning his sanity and wondering if he has really overcome this.  But, is it really Mother?  Is it in Norman’s head or is someone plotting against him, trying to bring out his old ways?

There are a lot of people who have refused to check this movie out.  Psycho was indeed a perfect film and they feel something like this would “tarnish” its legacy.  Rather than give it a shake, they’ve just avoided it, ignored it or hated it merely on principal.  If they would give it a chance, they’d see there is really nothing to fear.  After all, I’m sure these folks had no problem visiting Jaws 2 or The Godfather II.  If the original was a perfect film, this one is a really good film.  It’s a touch more exploitative (a shower with nudity, more brutal kills), but it still weighs more on being a mystery and slow-burn horror/drama that it ever has interest in being a full on slasher film.  It has one sequence that’s kind of a tip of the hat to the slasher films it was joining the ranks of, but that’s really all.

Anthony Perkins and Vera Miles both returned and got behind the project.  And I can see why.  It’s a film that’s rich in character over horror.  We actually follow Norman Bates through the film’s entirety.  There’s a great dilemma in the viewer’s mind as to whether you fear Norman or you feel bad for him.  It’s a terrific level of discomfort.  You very much feel like Mary on her first night staying with him.  While he’s been cleared and appears perfectly normal, there’s an apprehension that you just know he’s going to break into his old ways.  Anthony Perkins is actually outstanding in this film.  He’s able to perfect channel back to the character he made an icon 22 years early and create something that feels like a comfortable extension to it.

The film itself doesn’t fall into the easy territory of being a slasher film like it could have.  While it may have been the golden age of slashers that brought interest into getting Norman Bates back to the big screen, it’s not the story they tell.  The film is far more based in suspense and mystery than bloody kills, chase scenes and “boo” scares.  Yes, when the film has kills far more graphic than the original, but that comes with where films in general were at the time.  The film is at its best when we’re watching scenes between two characters and receiving clues to the mystery.

Psycho II was shot by one of my favorite cinematographers of all time Dean Cundey.  And in my opinion, they couldn’t have made a better choice.  The man who shot Halloween was brought in to bring back Norman Bates and the Bates Motel.  This might go down as one of his overlooked and underappreciated works.  The film not only feels a natural partner to the original with its look and movements, it goes a little beyond that, evolving and using some of the lightly used techniques in Hitchock’s a little more.  There’s some beautiful overhead shot’s which are obviously a call back to the Private Investigator’s death in Psycho.  They look a bit breathtaking and great.  There’s a real feel for the house and a lot of the scenes are framed with innovation and genius.  This is a really good looking film and I have to give a lot of that credit to Cundey being familiar with most of his catalogue.

The last thing Psycho II does is stand as being an offensive cash grab to its predecessor.  It’s quite the opposite.  It’s very complimentary to it and you can tell it was an effort full of passion in front of and behind the camera.  It’s as much of a “horror” film as the original and adds a fun little extension if you’re wanting to go there.  No, it’s not near as good as Hitchcock’s masterpiece, but that’s doesn’t mean it’s bad either.  If you’ve gone all these years without seeing this film, put down your grudge and pick it up.   Following  Psycho, this film had unfair expectations to live up to.  That’s the only crime against it.  It’s a good movie and even if you’re not a fan, it doesn’t change anything about the original film.  I think while it’s not a “fun” movie for the horror genre that you can just sit and pop in whenever, it’s still a good one and will greatly satisfy anyone when you’re in the mood.

Psycho II E

Video 

The Bates Motel is clearly visible from the side of the road on Scream Factory’s release.  Its 1080p picture has a MPEG-4 AVC encoding.  While the picture was shot with an intentionally flat look, the colors still appear nice and bold.  Wooden objects (floors, doors, chairs) appear really rich in color and detail.  There are some soft spots and few rough patches in the source, but at during most of the movie it’s a really well defined picture rich in detail.  There are some medium shots in the 1:78.1 frame that are incredible impressive.  Facial wrinkles and surface blemishes as well as fabric on clothes is very distinct and present.  There is also a really nice light, layer of grain present.  The great thing is, this appears to be another “hands off” type appearance, but you know some HD mastering work was clearly done, but it looks so natural you’d never know it.

Psycho II A

Audio 

Mother comes courtesy of a DTS-HD MA 5.1 track that is pretty much sufficient.  Dialogue is clear and Jerry Goldsmith’s score is wonderfully adapted.  There is some very good distancing with the mix.  Sounds will occur off-screen coming from downstairs, in another room, etc and you might find yourself looking in the direction it comes from.  There’s a real nice definition to the cutting and stabbing sounds as well.  It’s also worth noting that the sound of a floor creaking sounds really clear, like it’s in the room.  It’s not quite a loud and all consuming track, but it surely is a cut above the rest.

Psycho II D

Extras 

All the extras come in high definition with a 2.0 DTS-HD MA audio track (normally Scream Factory bonus content is DD 2.0).  It’s also worth mentioning that the menu screen is super groovy.

  • Audio Commentary With Tom HollandThe Psycho Legacy director and Killer POV podcast host Rob Galluzzo moderates writer Tom Holland as they work their way through making the film.  Holland talks about making a rich character story to attract Anthony Perkins to return as without his attachment, no movie would have been made.  Also, fun, the exterior of the courthouse in the film is the clock tower from Back To The Future and Gremlins.  This is a fantastically plotted, run and paced commentary that is a must listen.
  • Cast & Crew Interviews (35:21) – This is an EPK video from 1983.  It features a full trailer and a lot of full scenes from the movie.  In between are cast and crew interviews as well as on set footage.  Its nice to note that while they were filming this movie, back in 1982-3 they were well aware of the thin ice they were skating on and doing their best to perfect it.  Please know that this video is an old VHS source and there are audio drop out throughout.
  • Trailers (3:43) – A teaser trailer and a theatrical trailer.
  • TV Spots (2:01) – 4 television ads promoting Norman’s return home.
  • Still Gallery – 77 behind the scenes shots, publicity stills, posters, lobby cards and magazine inserts.
  • Play Film With Cast & Crew Interviews – This is like a commentary track, but it features promo EPK-like interviews with the cast, crew and vintage Alfred Hitchcock clips.

Psycho II C

Summary 

Don’t be afraid Psycho-only(!) loyalists.  The time is now to venture and see what you’ve been missing out on for the last 30 years.  Scream Factory gives Norman Bates a fantastic display for his second outing’s first trip to Blu-ray.  I really like the picture quality on this release quite a bit.  The extras provide what they can as cast members and those behind the camera aren’t around anymore.  There is top notch commentary that is a must listen provided.  They provide all the archived interviews they can to wet your appetite.  The film itself and this “Collectors Edition” Blu-ray have more than earned the right to be stashed away alongside the original Psycho in your collection.


Psycho-II-Blu-ray

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

4 Responses to “Psycho II – Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Brian White

    Nice! I need to check this one out!

  2. Aaron Neuwirth

    Good excuse to finally check this out.

  3. Sean Ferguson

    I haven’t seen this yet but now you’ve got me interested.

  4. Brandon Peters

    No I’m afraid I may have overhyped it for you guys. lol