Psycho II

January 7, 2013 at 4:27 pm 2 comments

Psycho II is a movie that fascinates me. Anyone can reasonable argue that a sequel to the Alfred Hitchcock 1960 classic Psycho was unnecessary. However, I think most people who gave this movie a chance and judged it fairly would say Psycho II is a good movie. Where there is a ton of information and special editions on the original Psycho, the same doesn’t hold true for Psycho II.

I can only speculate as to how this movie came about. Since Halloween, there was a boom in slasher movies. Slasher movies were everywhere and most of them were making big money. I’m guessing someone at Universal wanted to cash in on the trend but didn’t want to dirty their hands with starting a new franchise. Also at the time, critics called out slasher movies for being low brow trash or worse. So I’m guess, and this is pure speculation, the decision makers at Universal realized that Psycho was arguable the father of the modern day slasher and a classy movie. All the pieces seem to fit. A sequel to the critically acclaimed classic would keep them immune from the bad reputation of slasher films but they could cash in on the trend.

On to the film itself, Norman Bates is getting out of the insane asylum 20 plus years after the events of Psycho. Apparently, he is all better now. Again Norman Bates is brilliantly played by Anthony Perkins.  Even people who don’t like this movie will concede that Anthony Perkins was great in this movie. Lila Loomis, sister of Marion Crain, protests that Norman should never be let out. But the judge determines that Norman Bates is no longer crazy so he can go home. To the house he lived in with his mother whom drove him to the point of insanity. You would think they would find somewhere else for him to live. Apparently, and the movie does say this, the state doesn’t have money to put him in a half way house. The entire dramatic premise of the movie is will Norman Bates kill again?

Perkins plays the part very well. With very little exposition and little more than body language and sub text you can tell that Norman is just trying to get on with his life. He is a man on the edge. He may be healed but it won’t take much to push him over the edge. He plays the role for sympathy and it works, even though we the audience know what he has done. If one is to consider Norman Bates a slasher, he may be the most sympathetic of them all. What Norman does isn’t really in his control. He is as much of a victim as the people he killed. The interesting thing in this movie, you ask yourself whether or not Norman has fallen off the wagon and killed again. And it’s not completely clear whether or not he has killed anyone.

Norman’s doctor sets him up with a job at a near by diner as a way to transition him back into normal society. There he meets Mary, a seemingly normal young lady with problems of her own. After being tossed out by her boyfriend, Norman offers her a place to say. She is reluctant at first but finally agrees. As it turns out, the Bates Motel is now run by Mr. Toomey, played by Dennis Franz. He has turned it  into an adult motel, in Norman’s words. Norman promptly fires him.

As it turns out, Mary is the daughter of Lila Loomis and they are working together to drive Norman crazy and make him kill again.  This is actually the weakest part of the movie in my opinion. For starters, their entire plan hinges on Norman allowing Mary to stay at his house. It’s very possible and in fact probable that Norman would have not wanted any company. He probably would be shy about having people around, particularly girls. Second, they are putting pressure on a structure thats not up to code. Why does Mary agree to this? I understand her aunt was killed by Norman but if Norman snaps, chances are she will be the victim. As the only person around, she most like will be the one he kills. The girl they got playing Mary wasn’t great but she does share a birthday with me so whatever, its all good. Us Valentine’s Babies need to stick together. Mary gets second thoughts about this plan, even providing an alibi for Norman at one point. Mr. Toomey and a teenager get killed. One thing is pretty clear, Norman didn’t do it but someone did.

Chances are not a lot of people have seen this movie so I won’t spoil the ending other than to say everything comes full circle. I do have a problem with one particular scene I would like to share with you. Two teenagers decided it would be a good idea to get stoned and have sex in Norman’s basement. Then an old woman in the shadows shows up and kills them. This really is the stock slasher movie scene, even by 1983 standards. A movie baring the name Psycho really should have aspired to much more. It really is the laziest kind of scene that writes itself. It didn’t sink the movie but it was a scene that really bothered me for how unoriginal it was.

Psycho II was a fine movie. Was it worthy has a sequel to Psycho? Would anything be? I felt like they did a lot of things right in this movie. While it pretty clearly was a cash in, they took pretty good care in making the movie, particularly Anthony Perkins. He really put a level of effort in a movie that may have not deserved that level of commitment. He does such a good job making you feel sympathy for Norman, making you hope he can stay well. I will concede that Psycho didn’t need a sequel. But you couldn’t have done much better than they had. I would recommend this movie. It’s well worth an examination.


Entry filed under: Horror. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Creature with the Atom Brain  |  February 11, 2013 at 7:20 pm

    I think this might be one of the best horror sequels I seen 🙂

    • 2. mrwednesdaynight  |  March 1, 2013 at 9:58 pm

      I liked it a lot too. I think I made the point in the review, making a sequel to Psycho is tough and they did as well as you could have hoped, all things considered. In terms of quality, it is about as good as any horror sequel I’ve seen. I have a difficult time thinking of a better one off hand.


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