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Psycho II (1983) - Blu-ray Review

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Psycho II - Blu-ray Review

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4 stars

I wonder if, for filmmakers, there could there be anything more terrifying than helming a sequel to a beloved classic film 22 years after the original.  Or is such a task just plain stupid and flawed from its inception?  What if you could get some of the major players of the original and do something ridiculously creative with the story?  And that, dear friends, is exactly what screenwriter Tom Holland and director Richard Franklin do in Psycho II.

Starring Anthony Perkins and Vera Miles, Psycho II doesn’t copy its predecessor moment by moment.  It – keeping the tone of the original intact, including some comic beats  – blazes its own trail and compounds the story with nice twists and incredible logic, adding more to the original than the naysayers expected it to.  Yes, the return of Norman Bates is pretty unforgettable.

One could intelligently argue that one reason Psycho II works as well as it does is because Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho wasn’t really about Norman at all.  Oh, he’s there alright, but the movie treats him as a sideshow freak.  The real movie is with what happens to Janet Leigh and the forces that cause her to snap in two and commit the theft and escape in the first place as she speeds toward her fate with a motel shower.

Picking up 20 years later with the release of a perfectly sane Norman Bates from a mental institute, Psycho II uncoils a winding narrative based on a supposed revenge plot that snakes its way into a tricky little knot as it, quite suddenly, attacks its own tail.  Norman is finally happy – momentarily – and returns to the Bates Motel to resume his duties as his caretaker.  It’s just that he keeps finding notes from his mother around the house; new notes; notes relating to girl he’s invited to stay in his mother’s home.

While not the slow burn physicality of Psycho, the sequel – thanks to a committed cast which includes Dennis Franz, Meg Tilly, and Robert Loggia – meets the hype with a firm handshake and is neither an insult to Hitchcock nor a terrible idea.  In fact, Psycho II is a certifiable blast, defying expectations and sneaking in some great shots along the way.  Perkins simply slays it as Bates and slips into his nervous shoes with a fine, fine bravado that simple cannot be matched.  He is both charming and challenging, riveting to the final moment.

Psycho II is a lot of things; a typical slasher flick it is not.  Engrossing and intelligent, Franklin has thrown a lot of power into his maneuvering of the film and it works.  The final moments are both shocking and rewarding.  Never is it insulting to the legend that is its predecessor.

It is so different than the original that Psycho II stands firmly on its own.  This is not a film that deserves the Hitchcock shadow that looms over it.  Thankfully, it tackles the elephant in the room and it does so with style and grace.

So stop at the Bates Motel for a second night.  It might be 22 years later, but that hasn't stopped Norman from his chores.  In fact, he is currently prepping your room...

{2jtab: Film Details}

Psycho 2 - Blu-ray ReviewMPAA Rating: R.
Runtime:
113 mins
Director
: Richard Franklin
Writer
: Tom Holland, Robert Bloch
Cast:
Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles, Meg Tilly
Genre: Horror
Tagline:
It's 22 years later and Norman Bates is coming home.
Memorable Movie Quote: "You could stop stuffing bloody towels in toilets and peering through peep-holes in the wall."
Distributor:
Universal Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
June 3, 1983
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
September 24, 2013

Synopsis: After twenty-two years of psychiatric care, Norman Bates attempts to return to a life of solitude... but the specters of his crimes -- and his mother -- continue to haunt him.

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Psycho II - Blu-ray Review

Component Grades
Movie

Blu-ray Disc
4 stars

4 stars



Blu-ray Experience
4 stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

 

Collector's Edition

Available on Blu-ray - September 24, 2013
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)
Region Encoding: A

Released from the basement vaults by Shout! Factory’s horror division, Scream Factory does a great job here with its 1080p video transfer.  Colors are naturally saturated and black levels are strong and consistent throughout.  Natural film grain is throughout the image.  This is definitely one of the stronger video transfers from Shout!, as natural aging of the film is barely evident and there isn’t a scratch to be seen, keeping away distraction to notice the beautifully toned sharpness and unfiltered contrast. In all, this release is a natural and filmic presentation.  The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 takes full advantage of Jerry Goldsmith’s score and sounds great in multi-channel stereo.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • Tom Holland provides the audio commentary which feels more like a moderated discussion over the film rather than a straight recording.  It’s interesting in that he talks a bit about mounting a sequel to a beloved classic film, but nothing too revealing here.

Special Features:

The features on this set are smaller than expected. I’d say they are worthwhile, but with nothing new filmed for the release, it is a bit of a step down from the fine folks over at Shout! Factory.  The Cast and Crew Interviews are culled from the Universal Archive and are interesting but a bit of a chore to get through. There are also standard issue Trailers, TV Spots and a Still Gallery. Unfortunately, there is nothing too insightful or revealing.

  • Interviews with the Cast and Crew (35 min)
  • Theatrical Trailers (4 min)
  • TV Spots (2 min)
  • Still Gallery

{2jtab: Trailer}

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