October's Daily Horror Dose 2: Resurrection - Day #27 - Psycho II

Normally I don’t tend to do two movies in one franchise during one of these things but I only had time to watchPsycho II so I’m going to write about Psycho II and y’all are just going to have to deal with that. Besides, aren’t you a little curious about how in the hell there are sequels to Psycho?

I always knew about the three Psycho sequels and never had much desire to see them, even after watching the original a couple of weeks ago. I didn’t really know anything about them but I assume like most people, I assumed they would be garbage. Horror movie sequels that come out years and years after their original don't tend to go well, that's just science. Then Scream Factory released the second and third entries a few weeks back and as I stated in yesterday’s review, I buy everything they release no matter what. So the time had come to dive into the Psycho sequels.

Psycho II came out 23 years after the original (1960 versus 1983) and once again stars Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates. He has spent the last two decades plus in a mental hospital and the decision has now been made to not only release him, but also to allow him to live in his old house. You know, the one where he murdered his mother and a bunch of other people in the guise of his mother's corpse before being committed to a mental hospital. It’s like dangling a pack of cigarettes in front of someone who just quit smoking, why would you want to throw such blatant temptation in his face like that? He also is given a job at a local diner where within one shift he already has a female coworker staying back at the house with him. Why is nobody stopping this?! Does nobody remember what actually happened before?! I’m all about second chances but I’m a little surprised at how accepting everyone is of Norman. I know they know what he did, but most people are like “eh, shit happens, whatever dude.” Maybe I’m the bad person for being a little more wary, but I don’t know about this whole arrangement you guys.

It doesn’t take long before strange shit starts happening. Norman starts seeing angry notes left by his “mother”, and receiving frequent phone calls from her as well. Is he already slipping back into his old ways? Is it someone fucking with him? Or is it something else entirely? It turns out that discovering these answers is far more interesting than I ever expected.

It looks like a lot of the Internet was already very aware of this but holy shit Psycho II is a good movie. It’s like, a really good movie! It doesn’t touch the original but clearly these people took the task of sequelizing a classic completely serious and wanted to do the best job possible. It doesn’t simply rehash the first movie, instead going the smart route and continuing those and events and also revealing more about the Norman Bates character, something the first movie only touched on. Making him the star was a risky move and could very easily have taken away a lot of the suspense surrounding the character, but they pulled it off well and there is a ton of things to be worried about in this movie. You’re always waiting for Norman to snap or for his sanity walls to start coming down, and you’re never certain what is real or what is only happening inside his head.

Perkins is of course fantastic in the role, still able to make Norman charming in the midst of everything that is happening. You know the awful shit the guy has done, but it often doesn’t matter. You want him to get through this and you don’t want him to go back to his old roles. You hate the people who antagonize him and you want things to work out ok for him. It’s a testament to how damn good Perkins is in the role, going just over the top enough when needed to be effective and not ridiculous.

The movie is also exceptionally well shot, echoing Hitchcock without going as far as to blatantly rip him off. It does go further down the slasher movie route, which makes sense considering it came out when that sub-genre was at its peak. This means a much higher gore quotient, a greater body count and some further creativity put into the deaths themselves. Add to this is a genuinely effective who dunnit aspect, and you end up with one of the better slasher movies of the 1980’s, and I can’t believe I’m only discovering it now.

Psycho II is a great sequel. It expands upon the story of the first movie, both remaining true to its atmosphere while at the same time making a movie that fits with the time it was made. It’s consistently suspenseful with a great story and interesting characters, with a terrific central performance by Perkins as Norman Bates. Watching this one really made me want to watch the third movie right away, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see that one show up here before the month is through.