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Psycho II

tn_psychoiiPSYCHO II is the best sequel ever made to a Hitchcock movie, better than THE BIRDS II: LAND’S END, NORTH BY NORTHWEST: RETURN TO RUSHMORE or even VERTIGOS. That’s faint praise though, since I actually haven’t seen the first one and the other two don’t exist as far as I know. What I’m trying to say is, no matter how prejudiced you might be against somebody sequelizing a classic like PSYCHO, this is actually a really enjoyable sequel, a clever and suspenseful tribute to Hitchcock and to the character of Norman Bates as portrayed by Anthony Perkins.

It’s 22 years after the events of PSYCHO. Norman Bates has been in an institution, having been found not guilty by reason of insanity, but is now considered fully rehabilitated. Against the petitioning of Lila Loomis (formerly Crane, and still played by Vera Miles) Norman is released. His doctor (Robert Loggia) seems to truly care about and believe in his mental stability, but regrets that cutbacks prevent society from having more social workers to look after him. For Norman’s sake and for ours.

mp_psychoiiSo Norman returns to the scene of the crime, the Bates Motel still in operation, run by Dennis Franz and mostly used by prostitutes and junkies. To stay in touch with humanity or something Norman is set up with a job at a small nearby diner, where he meets young Mary Samuels (Meg Tilly). When she gets in a fight with her boyfriend and has no place to stay Norman tells her about how he owns this motel with plenty of vacancies.

Ah shit, Norman! Not this again. I know you mean well. I know you’re genuinely trying to help this girl. But what the fuck, man. If you’re an alcoholic you shouldn’t hang out at bars, if you’re on a diet you shouldn’t go to the all you can eat buffet, and if you’re Norman Bates you shouldn’t invite pretty young girls to stay in cabin 1. That’s just how it is, man. Don’t tempt yourself.

Of course he starts thinking about mother, he starts seeing things. Is he losing it already? Is someone trying to make him lose it? If so will he actually lose it? There’s plenty of things to be tense about in this movie.

Tarantino has infamously said he likes it better than the original, but he’s just showing off. He’s allowed to do that because he directed a bunch of great movies, but I haven’t done that so I’m not gonna go that far. I do think you could argue that it holds up better as a suspense-creating-machine, just because of the particular mysteries it holds and the less iconic status it has in pop culture. I always remember what happens to Marion and what you find out about Norman at the end of PSYCHO, but somehow this is the third time I watched part 2 and I couldn’t remember the details. So it kept me guessing until the end. And it’s a great ending.

What makes it great though is this time you know from viewing #1 that he’s a psycho, and you root for him anyway. According to some people (both critics and fans) ’80s horror was all about cheering for Jason to kill stupid characters you didn’t like. But here’s one that’s all about rehabilitation and second chances. You want Norman to prove people wrong by staying sane and not killing anybody. Come to think of it that would be pretty cool if there was a Jason movie where he had gone through years of therapy and now he’s just working as a landscaper or something and trying to keep his urges in check. That’s a freebie, Platinum Dunes, I’m sure you can do something with that.

The only messed up part is that poor Vera Miles comes across as a bad guy. That’s not really fair, I mean the guy did murder her sister. It is kind of weird though that she married her sister’s boyfriend after bonding with him over trying to find her when she was missing with the money. And that she apparently (SPOILER) gave her daughter the same fake name that Marion used to register at the motel with when she was murdered. But I’m not gonna judge her. She’s been through alot.

I’m so glad they didn’t just give PSYCHO II to some chump. Instead they got Richard Franklin, the great Australian director who was more obsessed with Hitchcock than even Brian De Palma. If you haven’t seen it yet you really should see his “what if REAR WINDOW and DUEL fell in love and had a baby?” movie ROAD GAMES. That was the best of many gems I saw during my recent Australian film marathon. Franklin apparently pushed writer Tom Holland (director of CHILD’S PLAY) really hard. He talks a little bit about it in this interview Mr. Beaks did for The Ain’t It Cool News.

PSYCHO II is an honest to God great sequel, because this really is a character you want to find out more about, and it makes perfect sense for it to take place all this time later when he returns to society. It’s completely respectful of the original while having a very different feel just from being made in a different era, on color film, and with the audience already knowing Norman’s story. It goes to show that you can’t be a purist about everything. You can imagine the fury that would go on in talkbacks if somebody proposed making a sequel to a Hitchcock classic now. But here’s a case where they would’ve been wrong.

http://youtu.be/jNe0_V4zK_Y

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Friday, October 30th, 2009 at 9:10 pm and is filed under Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

44 Responses to “Psycho II”

  1. Robert Loggia, Meg Tilly and Denis Franz? Sold.

  2. Yeah PSYCHO II was pretty good. I mean Universal produced it because it was 1983, in the midst of the slasher movie phase, and well they wanted to cash in with a follow-up from the original slasher. Surprised everyone by being good, though its Perkins that makes it work really.

    Yet I think PSYCHO III is even better. I mean its automatically better in the opening with that nun screaming “There is no God!” Pity that Perkins had to die of AIDS, for he showed some directorial flair.

  3. Plus Jeff Fahey does that thing with a lamp

  4. Tarantino is that annoying guy at the party who finds some excuse to let drop that he thinks Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower” is better than Hendrix’s, just to let you know how fucking indie he is. Of course, unlike that guy, when he’s not being annoying at parties, he’s off making really great movies.

    Thanks for the review, Vern. I’d always heard that this was a good one, but now that it has an official review, it has to go on the docket.

  5. Vern, how about the PSYCHO remake? I’ll bet you have some interesting things to say about that!

  6. That thing with the lamp is called “art.”

  7. God, this movie was great. I caught it about six months ago, shortly after “Road Games” absolutely owned my ass. It’s everything a sequel should be—and Meg Tilly; there’s a small corner of my heart reserved just for you. But as good as it is, anyone—and I mean anyone—who says that it’s better than the original is just playing the indie game; find something way more obscure than the known original, preach about how underrated it is, and then reap the rewards.

    Speaking of “Road Games,” now that, as Vern says, is a real find. Stacy Keich is the man, and Jamie Lee Curtis is the single best argument for picking up hitchhikers that I’ve ever seen. It’s funny that the two leads in the Australia-set, Australian produced and directed movie are Americans, but then again, maybe not. Richard Franklin doesn’t have a lot of good things to say on the DVD supplement when it comes to the Oz film industry. Apparently they chided him on bringing Hitchcock to his university to speak. “Why are you interested in that has-been” they reportedly said.

    Some people huh?

    Mr. S, I owe you a big sloppy thank you for recommending “Intacto.” I just finished watching it, and enjoyed it immensely. What a wonderful, original premise; using luck to gamble with lives. There are so many touches that reflect the level of thought put into it, so I’ll just pick my favorite; using the luck of others to enhance your own abilities, and how the film reflects that with the pictures of the people you’ve stolen from. Also, all the different uses of blindfolds; just when you thought “Red Shoe Diaries” had killed their credibility, “Intacto” steps in a reminds you just how scary wearing one can be.

    Mr S, if I might do you a solid, check out “Memories of Murder” out of South Korea, if you haven’t already. It’s about South Korea’s first serial killer, and plays with the facts in a manner reminiscent of “Rashomon.” Most excellent.

  8. I like Psycho II better than Psycho, but that’s not the same thing as saying that it’s a better movie. If objective quality was the only factor in personal enjoyment, then everyone’s favorite movie would be Citizen Kane.

  9. Fletcher Hanks — Vern wrote a review of the Psycho remake a while ago. He has an interesting take on it.

  10. Bad Seed — are you kidding? I owe you for watching it. Spread the word! Everything about it is unique and well-thought out, with an impressive number of great setpiece scenes considering it was made for peanuts. I think director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo is headed for great things (how many other directors make a DTV film which is so good the suits decide it ought to hit theaters?) and when that happens, you and I will have gotten in there on the ground floor. (btw, his next project on imbd is the film adaptation of “Bioshock” which Gore Verbinski was toying with for awhile. If he can figure out the right approach, I think he’s got the chops to hit it out of the park).

    As for MEMORIES OF MURDER, curiously enough, its on my Halloween horrorfest docket. I’ve been orbiting it for some time, but looks like now is the time to go in for the kill.

  11. Vern, you should check out Richard Franklin’s Killer-Ape movie “LINK” (1986). It stars Terence Stamp as a monkey scientist, and a post-Karate Kid, Pre-Cocktail Elizabeth Shue as his live-in stident assistant. It is written by Everette De Roche (RoadGames, Patrick, Long Weekend) and has a great Jerry ‘Psycho II’ Goldsmith score. I love the flick.

    I also like Franklin’s approach in that one. Much of the movie is very restrained stylistically, until the characters realize that the shit has hit the fan, then he brings out a whole slew of stylish filmatism. (Like Hitchcock who always saved his most lavish technical show-off moments for the most dramatic moments of the story). And there’s a psycho orangutan.

  12. I liked “Link”, because I never realised how scary monkeys can be before and I think that Link’s death scene (minor spoiler) looks damn cool. (I rewinded the tape several times to watch it again.) But I disapprove on the dead cat in the beginning (another minor spoiler) and while I like Jerry Goldsmith’s score, I also think he didn’t get that movie tried to be serious. As great as the score is, the “Gremlins”-like melodies just rubbed me the wrong way.

  13. CJ, Glad you like LINK also. And I understand where you’re coming from in regards to Goldsmith’s score. It certainly does evoke the rambunctiously playful Gremlins score. But, in LINK it seems more detached and counter-point to me. In Gremlins, the wacky theme seemed to play while the little fellas were clowning around, being silly and thoroughly enjoying their mischief.

    In LINK, the orangutan is so damned stoic while causing his destruction that the music seems to be playing against it. The music is playing the cuteness of the animal. But this animal is Damned Serious. In that, the score kinda reminds me more of the carnival-like Dominic Frontiere scores for Richard Rush’s flicks like The Stunt Man. Kind of a stretch, but killer ape movies require serious contemplation sometimes.

  14. Mr. M – Thank you for putting that out there. Not enough people make that distinction. Hence I can say that I enjoy Rocky 4 because it’s funnier than any comedy more than a masterpiece like Psycho, but I’ll never be confused as to which film is more competently made and more important to the overall development of film.

    Mr S and Seed – Intacto rules. The scene in the forrest is pretty much a textbook on how to be heart stopping awesome in a thriller. Everyone needs to see it.

  15. Getting through Intacto was kind of a chore for me. I thought it was a cool concept with a really dull execution. What did you guys like about it?

    And Link is awesome. That ape just has so much goddamn dignity. He looks better in a suit than I do.

  16. Indeed Mr. M, I tried both ‘Damned Serious’ and ‘Damned Stoic’ to describe Link the Orangutan, but ‘Goddamn Dignity’ sums him up well. Link is a very good butler. A very good housekeeper. But very bad at not killing people.

  17. Oh, and by the way: HAPPY HALLOWEEN, EVERYBODY!!!
    (Although it’s meanwhile November 1st where I am.)

  18. In Psycho-related trivia, IMDb claims that Anthony Perkins was offered the role of the primate wrangling doctor in LINK. That would have been a legendary team-up, Norman Bates and his crazy monkey butler!

    I think it speaks for the film that despite the murderous rampage, it still inspired my lifelong dream of having a simian man-servant (as well as a soft spot for Elisabeth Shue). For me, it’s a really entertaining thriller with a lot of personality and it kinda scratches the same late-night B-Movie itch as SSSSSSSS, if anybody remembers that one.

  19. Good review. I’m convinced.

  20. I’ve been wanting to see this ever since I saw Road Games. After this review I will have to check it out soon.

  21. Mr. Subtlety, I am that guy. I think Dylan’s is so much creepier. Hendrix kicks you in the balls, but Dylan sneaks into your ear while you sleep and chisels away pieces of your brain. Now I’m going to go make a really shitty movie.

  22. Well, I heard monkeys in there somewhere so I’ll chime in with my favorite chimp film, Monkey Shines.

  23. I’ve seen Link and Monkey Shines , and they’re both good . I was re-watching Monkey Shines a while ago , before all the October horror movies , and , damn , that’s good . It really pisses me off to think how many people only see Romero as a zombie director , completely forgetting this Knightriders , Creepshow , The Dark Half , The Crazies and so on . There’s so much going on with this guy . Speaking of zombies and Romero , Vern , will you review Survival of the Dead ? I know that zombie movies are a touchy subject with you nowadays , but your opinion is always appreciated .

    Also : Best monkey-related movie ? Braindead (Splatters, gli schizzacervelli here in Italy , something like “Splatters : Brain Smashers” ). Sumatran Rat-Monkey . Zero Dignity , but a very bad attitude . Try to hire that little bastard as a butler !

  24. Sling Blade kept coming to mind when I saw Psycho II – the whole repressing of urges, taming-the-beast-inside thing. Plus I liked how it not only predated all those “split personality twist” movies (the hero is really the killer!) by a few decades, but actually gave away the twist up front, and then played on those expectations. My only problems with it were a) the killings were so over-the-top gory they were kinda ridiculous (especially compared to the first) and that final scene was just one too many twists on top of twists. Not to mention the end does kinda make unclear exactly which character killed which character. (Any theories by you guys as to who killed who would be nice). But overall, definitely an “underrated’ movie, even though everyone seems to like it.

  25. I can’t find Vern’s Psycho remake review. Can’t find it in the alphabetical index, can’t find it under “remakes.” Can’t find it by googling “Vern Psycho remake” or “Vern Psycho 1998.” (Wow, has it been that long?) The search function on this site just gives me the last bunch of reviews in chronological order.

    Maybe I just don’t get this internet thing.

  26. I don’t think I’ve ever reviewed the Psycho remake. I’ve defended it in talkbacks and stuff so that my be why some people thought they remembered it. I’ll take a break from the horror marathon now but I definitely plan to watch it again soon enough that the original is still fresh on my mind.

    Zod – It might be more complicated than this but my interpretation (SPOILER) is that the “real mother” was the one committing the murders until he killed her at the end. It’s almost like he’s doing the right thing but of course this pushes him over the edge again (PSYCHO III review coming soon.)

  27. “(PSYCHO III review coming soon.)”

    Followed by CAPTAIN EO.

  28. Do you plan to watch Bates Motel? I remember that movie being a step below the standard Scooby Doo episode.

  29. Wow…. they actually _MADE_ the “Link” movie?? I’ve had the soundtrack for decades (on tape); I never heard that the movie actually was released.

    In regard to Psycho 2: I enjoy it more than Psycho 1 as well. (I’ve always enjoyed 2010 vastly more than 2001 as well, too.)

    Does anyone else, when watching Psycho2, get a David Banner/Hulk vibe from it? (That TV series was very popular at the time, so it might be just me, but…)

  30. The Dylan one is the best one until I hear the Hendrix one and that’s the best one until I hear the Dylan one again and that’s the best one and they beat one another with each listen for all eternity, amen.

    Also, haven’t seen Psycho II.

  31. Mr M- sorry for the delay– the things I like about INTACTO are mostly involving the detail that went into making the concept work and makes sense, and the way the world of the game is so well fleshed-out. Sounds like you’re with me there. But I also thought scenes like the one in the woods are incredibly tense, well-directed execution of a unique concept. I also love the weird, green-lit scene with the bug (wtf?! Anther great, tense application of a concept I’d never seen before) and everything with Von Sydow, who really puts a great sense of the weight of his lot in life into it.

    Which brings us to the film’s philosophical undercurrents. If the luckiest man in the world can be so dismal, then what does luck mean, exactly? Sure, it’s lucky to survive a concentration camp, but isn’t it luckier to not go to one to begin with? And if you know you’re luckier than everyone else, don’t you bear some responsibility for their failure too? The movie doesn’t directly talk about these things, but its there in the subext, which is one of the reasons it so dillegently chronicles the pain of the losers as well as the malaise of the winners. The movie has a very muted, quiet way about it, but its kind of a common look and feel for Spanish movies like this, so I was kind of expecting it and it didn’t diminish the energy to me (that’s the major complaint I hear about it, other than the leads aren’t especially memorable, which is true. They do OK but at the end you remember scenes more than the people).

    Sorry it didn’t do it for ya, but you gotta admit that guy Fresnadillo’s got some chops on him. I think he’ll win you over yet.

  32. I guess maybe it’s my fault because I don’t remember any of the things you’re talking about. I remember the bag-over-the-head scene and then a bunch of gloomy people sitting around in windowless rooms. I tend to like Spanish thrillers (You ever see one called The Uninvited Guest about this guy who thinks there’s a prowler in his house but then he breaks into someone else’s house for some reason and…well, it’s complicated) but Intacto really just had no impacto on me at all. Bad timing, maybe.

  33. Mr M -All is forgiven because you went for the Intacto / impacto bit.

    If you like Spanish thrillers, I think it might be worth revisting down the line, because IMHO it is filled with clever bits and a great, unique central conceit. But maybe you can wait and let Fresnadillo make a few more films and then decide if you’re into his work or not. I thought INTACTO was a stronger film than 28 WEEKS LATER, but that one probably had its share of greatnesss too, so I think he’s working up towards either a true classic or a heartbreaking failure which will tell us where his career is going.

  34. I actually liked 28 Weeks Later better than 28 Days Later, mostly, but that might be because the last act of Days is such a fuckero. If they combined the beginning of Days with the end of Weeks (and somehow found room for the very first scene of Weeks) then you would have the final word in British non-zombie invasions. They wouldn’t have to make 28 Fortnights Later at all.

  35. You know what might be kinda cool though is something like 28 years later. To my knowledge, there is no zombie apacalypse film which lets us see world that has been zombie’d that long. I don’t think even LAND OF THE DEAD is supposed to have been that long, and that’s the only one I can think of that comes close. Could be kind of interesting to see what a world more or less rebuilt around a zombie (ok, non-zombie) menace would look like. A perfectly workable metaphor, and possibly an interesting sci-fi concept, for someone who wanted to do it right.

  36. Just watched LINK based on the suggestions in this thread and it was pretty good. I mean you have to respect a movie with Terence Stamp as an ape wrangling anthropologist. I’d like to see it play in an Thin Line Between Man and Ape Marathon with QUEST FOR FIRE, KOKO: A TALKING GORILLA, ALTERED STATES, 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY and PLANET OF THE APES. I didn’t like the score though. Too whimsical and circusy, and overbearing in all the wrong places.

  37. Mr. S – That is a great idea, but I don’t know if it’s sustainable with the 28 Days Later style of non-zombies. Don’t they all die of starvation in a few weeks? If it’s going to be done, I’d rather see George do Future of the Dead and just put an end to all this nonsense once and for all (until it gets remade in 2027, of course).

  38. Just watched it and HOLY SHIT, IT WAS FUCKING AWESOME!!!!! Seriously, I’m still shaking from its awesomeness. The only thing that I didn’t like was the knife-through-mouth kill, but only because it felt too much like something out of a “normal” 80’s slasher. A cool scene, but a little bit out of place IMO.
    And the Jerry Goldsmith score is fucking great! One of the most nerve-wracking use of synthesizers, that is not associated with John Carpenter.

  39. Yikes. So I guess I’m all alone in thinking this was a piece of shit?? Maybe because I watched it right after watching the first one for the first time in years?? I thought the kills were waaaaaay to over the top, I thought the twists were absurd, and I even thought Perkins was pretty shitty as well. He’s an actor I usually love but I didn’t think there was a note in this he didn’t overplay. Sorry guys.

  40. Considering this sequel was mainly an attempt by Universal to cash in on the slasher craze of the early ’80s, it’s pretty amazing. Stylishly photographed, both well-acted and plotted and with several good jolts and gore scenes, what more could you want from a 1980s R-rated sequel to Hitchcock’s essential slasher precursor Psycho?

  41. […] I’ve not seen personally but if you’re interested to read more on it, you should read this review by the great […]

  42. Richard Franklin also directed Henry Thomas and Dabney Coleman in “Cloak & Dagger,” a thoroughly enjoyable remake of the suspense thriller “The Window” starring Bobby Driscoll. “Psycho II” is the first of three surprisingly well-made sequels. None of them match the brilliance of the Hitchcock original, but I see what some people mean when they say they enjoyed II better. In some ways, it’s more fun to watch, but that doesn’t make it a better movie. What carries each of the films, and makes them memorable, is Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates. To me, he is at the top of the Great Iconic Villain list.

  43. Damn, you bendejos just DON’T know when to quit, do you?

    OK, spambot… take THIS up the culu en Espanol:

    Tus machetes no trabajando para nada, y tus madres cojenden muchos changos con mucho gusto sin palabras, porque tus familias no estan allegre de esto, nadie sabe.

    Take THAT, bendejos! (unless I totally misinterpreted this owing to you’re being Japanese, in which case: Konnichawa, bakas!).

  44. Psycho 2 is good but Idk if it was better than the Birds… that movie had me super afraid of birds for at least two weeks after I saw it. The best part “Don’t they ever stop migrating?”
    LOL.

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