The year is 1982, and some idiots have decided that it’s a good idea to make a sequel to one of the greatest films ever, Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. Despite the misguided concept, it did attract talented people behind the camera, like the director Richard Franklin and screenwriter Tom Holland, who would go on to write and direct Fright Night. Over the years the sequel has gained a cult following and Quentin Tarantino even insanely claims that it’s a better film than the Hitchcock original!
Anthony Perkins reprises his role as Norman Bates, who gets out 22 years after the events of the original. Norman gets a job at a local diner and meets Mary, who needs a place to stay. She stays with Norman and everything seems fine, but soon murders and disappearances start happening. It is often considered a film with lots of twists and turns, but any intelligent viewer will see most of them coming a mile off.
The entire thing is completely implausible. The idea that Norman would be welcomed into civil society with only protests from one of the victim’s families is comical. The character of Mary is so idiotic you almost feel sorry for her due to her stupidly. The fact is that she is in utter denial about Norman’s tendencies although the evidence is overwhelming from the get-go—and they aren’t even sleeping together! Perkins is fine, even if he is totally camping the performance up. He would go on to play the mommy’s boy for two more films.
The direction from Richard Franklin, who made a name in Australia with cult classics like Patrick and Road Games, is fairly unremarkable. He, like every director in his wake, was heavily influenced by Alfred Hitchcock and actually became friendly with Hitch during the ‘60s when he attended USC. The aesthetic is basically similar to what Gus Van Sant did with his much-maligned remake of Psycho, with shots clearly taken verbatim from the original film. The film even starts with a crass and pointless replay of the entire extraordinary shower scene from the original film, which just reminds the audience how brilliant the original was.
Although Psycho II is fun and amusing, the idea that it’s a worthy sequel to one of the most perfect films ever made is the kind of thing that only somebody who stoned at 5 am in the morning would say. It did start the idea of making a franchise out of Psycho, which culminated in the solid television show Bates Motel, but that doesn’t try to make it fit in with the original film and features an updated version of Norman.
The disc does feature tons of special features, including a newly filmed long conversation with Tom Holland and Mick Garris (who directed the fourth film in the franchise), a featurette on Psycho’s novelist Robert Bloch, a commentary by Tom Holland, tons of archive featurettes and interviews from the film’s release, and much more.