A yearly tradition, Psycho II
I can't exactly pin point when it exactly happened, but years ago I remember my mother surprised me with a handful of VHS tapes she bought used at a local video store that was just closing down. One of them was Psycho II, the sequel to Alfred Hitchcock's black and white 1960 classic. One of the earlier films that changed the world of horror and slashers forever. I had seen the original Psycho (along with the God awful 98 remake a few dozen times before.) Blown away that there was actually a sequel, I could't wait to pop this baby into my tiny 13 inch TV with built in VCR. I still remember like it was yesterday, how eye catching the artwork was on the front cover, and how just mere minuets into the opening I was hooked.
This movie in my eyes had one hell of an opener that instantly catches the audiance's attention. Playing the famous black and white Janet Leigh shower death, the camera slowly pans back to the rolled up newspaper where the money is hid, and slowly out the window to the looming house that over looks the motel from the hill. There we hear a stunned Norman scream in horror "Oh God mother! Blood! Blood!" With a powerful music cue the titles appear as the stunning Jerry Goldsmith theme plays, which is most beautiful and tragic as the skies begin to change, showing the passing years as the house sits empty.
It's safe to say trying to follow up one of the most beloved classics of all time is a pretty tough act to follow. Thankfully this film, which took nearly 23 years to make got the blessing from Sir Alfred Hitchcock himself, and hired a brilliant director in Richard Franklin, and had a great edge of your seat thriller written by Tom Holland who was just starting off his career. Returning to the role he made famous, Anthony Perkins delivers a troubled and haunting take on the character that made him famous and sadly type casted all those years before. That's the thing about Norman Bates in this movie, he isn't over the top, it isn't campy, it's sympathetic, troubled, and confused. All the right mixture for the return of such a famous character. With great supporting roles such as the stunning Meg Tilly, the movie returned to it's roots, but played up on guessing on what exactly was happening in this movie, and why? Cashing in a little on some great gore moments (the knife through the mouth gag gets me every time.) but also relays on some stunning visuals. Some of my favorites being Normal getting locked inside the attic and slowly hearing his mother's voice call his name before slowly fading into Mary's. The camera pans around the giant house, and of course the finally twenty minuets. This is the only film besides the new Bates Motel series that shows so much of the inside of the Bates' house. This set is simply beautiful and some of the scenes with the score playing gives me chills every time.
With a twist ending, which is still debated on if it was too campy or not, some truly beautiful moments, and nods to the classic original film, Psycho II is simply a beautiful film that gets over showered by the shitty sequels that followed. In my eyes there's only the first two movies, and the new TV series. In fact if anyone reading this loves the new TV series (which I still need to catch up on) I urge you to check out this movie right away. It will make you look at Normal in a much different light.
Going back to my feelings towards it, I have made it a yearly tradtion in watching this movie the day before Easter every year. Not exactly the most religious movie, but it's just a film that has always strangely reminded me of spring. Wearing out my VHS and DVD copy, I'm now a proud owner of Scream Factory's stunning blu-ray release in HD.
So for anyone out there with some extra beer and nothing to watch, go and pop in Psycho II if it's in your collection and watch a truly amazing follow up to a cult classic!