I remember loving PSYCHO II when I was a teenager. At the time, I had respect for Hitchcock’s original, recognizing the genre defining film for what it was. Not being as film savvy as I am now (or would like to believe), the sequel was a worthy successor in my mind. I haven’t seen the film in more than twenty years, so it was with much interest and trepidation that I bought the new SCREAM Factory Blu-Ray release.
Directed by Richard Franklin (PATRICK, ROAD GAMES), I was surprised to find that although it’s clunky at times (especially toward the beginning), it holds up rather well with the second half of the film becoming a rather suspenseful thriller.
The story takes place 22 years after the events of the original film and finds Anthony Perkin’s Norman Bates being released from the psychiatric hospital having been deemed mentally competent by his doctor (Robert Loggia). Lila Crane Loomis (once again played by Vera Miles) doesn’t want Norman released. In her view, he is beyond rehabilitation and deserves to rot in hell for the murders of so many including her sister.
Norman moves back into his house and decides to refurbish the motel to re-open for business. Working at a diner to pay the bills, he befriends Mary (Meg Tilly), a down on her luck waitress who doesn’t seem bothered by Norman’s past. But this being a horror/ thriller, death comes knocking once again to the Bates Motel as a number of people close to Norman go missing. Is Norman up to his old tricks or is something far more sinister at play?
Surprisingly, PSYCHO II is an effective thriller and dare I say, a worthy sequel to the original. It stumbles at times but once it finds its way, it works. A self-proclaimed student of Hitchcock, Franklin does a great job at keeping the mystery going to the last moments and even provides a satisfying coda to the tale. Not a masterwork like the original, PSYCHO II is deserving of a look. Besides, if you don’t, you might make Mother mad.