psycho | psycho ii | sequel | richard franklin | tom holland | anthony perkins | vera miles | meg tilly | giallo | crime | mystery | thriller | united states | australia | robert loggia | dennis franz | hugh gillin | claudia bryar | robert alan browne | slasher
Film: Psycho II
Director: Richard Franklin
Writer: Tom Holland
Starring: Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles and Meg Tilly
This was a film that I remember watching a bit with my father when I was in high school. I had never seen it and was steadfast that it must be stupid trying to be a sequel to the great Hitchcock film. It wasn’t until podcasts that I realized this are actually good according to different hosts. I decided to finally give this a watch during my 31 Days of Halloween for the first time all the way through. The synopsis is after 22 years of psychiatric care, Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), attempts to return to a life of solitude, but the specters of his crimes, and his mother, continue to haunt him.
We start this off seeing the iconic shower sequence where Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) is murdered. It then goes outside, showing us the infamous house and going to color. Norman is in the courtroom with his lawyer and his doctor, Bill Raymond (Robert Loggia). They’re going to release him when Lila Loomis (Vera Miles) speaks out. She has a petition and quite upset, but there’s nothing that she can do.
Norman is taken back to his home and the motel that goes along with it. Going into the house, the old memories start to flood back to the point where he can’t go into his mother’s room. He also finds a note from her underneath the phone on the second floor. He tries to shake it off as Dr. Raymond takes him to the diner that he will work at.
He is greeted by Mrs. Emma Spool (Claudia Bryar). She really pushed for him to get the job as it is the Christian thing to do. He’s taken to meet the cook and manager, Ralph Statler (Robert Alan Browne) as well as a young waitress Mary (Meg Tilly). She is fighting with her boyfriend and only a few days into working here, she isn’t really cutting it.
Norman hears her on the outside payphone when he starting his walk home and he talks to her. She is short with him and he offers for her to stay with him, stating she can stay in an empty motel room. She at first declines, but does relent. Norman isn’t happy when he meets Warren Toomey (Dennis Franz) and the state of his motel. He fires him on the spot and has Mary stay in the main house with him. She does tell him that she will try to stay with a girlfriend the following day and going forward.
That doesn’t necessarily happen though. It wasn’t what she expected and he is happy she is staying there. She starts to try to help him get over the memories in the house, but it doesn’t help when you have Toomey who isn’t happy with him and Norman gets phone calls from his ‘mother’ as well as notes from her. What is really going on here? Is Norman going crazy or is there something more to all of this?
I’m definitely glad to say that I was wrong about this sequel and am actually mad that I haven’t seen this earlier. It is actually really good if I’m honest and how they build on the story. Things get introduced here that don’t violate continuity, which is a big thing for me, but going even farther though, it really deepens the story if I’m honest.
The first thing is that this film came out 23 years after the original and I like that they just have this pick up in present time. He has been in a mental hospital the whole time and it is interesting that they slyly slip in the line about funding is being cut which is part of the reason that he is being released. He does look like he’s trying to get some kind of normal life.
Dr. Raymond points out the fact that living in this house is going to bring up all of the old memories. I can see a double edge sword here. He doesn’t have anywhere else he can go. He has no money and the only thing he could do is sell the estate. He wants to overcome the trauma and see if that will help him move forward. We see that is a bad idea, but it also isn’t his fault. There are other forces at play here, which I ended up really liking that angle. It is kind of sad though if I’m going to be honest.
The final thing to cover of the story before moving on, this film doesn’t really play like a traditional slasher. If anything, I would say this is more like an American giallo. We assume that Norman is doing the murders, but it falls in that trope that maybe he’s not because one moment he’s locked in the attic when something happens. I like how this plays out as he slips back into madness, but is he really? The other thing, there is good writing throughout this with callbacks to the original in scenes, situations and even names as well.
That will take me to the pacing of the movie, which I think is really good as well. Even though this runs almost 2 hours, I was hooked from the beginning. I made the bad mistake of starting this at night and I had to go to bed with about 30 minutes left. I probably could have powered through, but I had work in the morning. I only bring this up, because I had to debate myself with what to do. It had me hooked that bad to figure out what happens here. None of the reveals hurt this and I even like how things ending. It doesn’t cheat anything and to be honest, I love the final sequence as well.
As for the acting, it was really good as well. Perkins plays this perfectly. He seems like a guy who is quite nervous and a bit out of touch with what seems normal. He really clings to Mary, but I don’t necessarily think that is sexual. It really seems to be more lonely and just needing that human interaction. I really liked they got Miles back as Lila, as it was a good touch. Her character is quite villainous which I wasn’t expecting. Tilly was really good as well, plus we see her topless for a second which I’m not mad about. Loggia and Franz were both solid, along with the rest of the cast to round this film out.
The effects in this film were really good as well. Being that this came out in the 80’s, they could do more than what they could in the original. They were done practically and some of them made me cringe if I’m honest. They looked that good. There are some actually brutal things that happen here, even though there really aren’t a lot of murders. I will also say that I really like how this film was shot. It feels like they did with the original with overhead shots and things like this. It really worked for me.
Now with that said, I really ended up liking this film. Despite my preconceived notions against this one, it is quite amazing if I’m honest. I like how it has almost a giallo film where the conventional knowledge is that Norman is the killer, but we also get things that happen that make you question yourself. It has a story that doesn’t violate any continuity and actually builds on the story. The pacing really helps to build this mystery and warrants the longer running time to figure out what is happening here. The acting is really good across the board, as were the effects. I really liked the soundtrack as well. I could feel my anxiety going up and it set out to do what it needed. I think this film is great and glad I finally checked this one off the list.
My Rating: 9 out of 10