From Universal Pictures
Original Theatrical Release Date: June 3rd 1983
Plot: Norman Bates returns for more Slasher fun as he continues to question his sanity once a beautiful girl (Meg Tilly) comes into his life.
Say hello to the 80's Norman Bates! Fresh out of the crazy house, Norman returns to his house and gets a job at the local diner as a short order cook. He meets up with the cute new waitress and the two hit it off. Director Richard Franklin resists making Psycho II the cheese-fest it could have easily been and ends up with a sequel that makes for an excellent companion to the original Film.
So rare can you find a sequel that can hold it's own against it's predecessor. Considering that Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho is a bonafide Masterpiece in filmmaking, it says a lot about the work Richard Franklin has done with his sequel. As I mentioned in an earlier post with the quasi-Slasher Road Games, Franklin was a protege of Hitchcock. He clearly had much respect for the master Filmmaker and set out to make a Film that wasn't an embarrassment, and a natural progression to Norman's story.
Anthony Perkins turns in another great, nuanced performance as everyone's favorite loon. He's ever so comfortable in this role and he never misses an opportunity to give Norman dimension and appropriate quirk. Franklin and his writer Tom Holland (Fright Night, Child's Play, Scream For Help) have fashioned a sequel that takes Norman's character through an emotional ringer, and the film has some nice surprises for him and us along the way. Co-star Meg Tilly brings the right amount of spunk and sexiness to the role. She's quite believable as someone who might be torn between attraction and sheer fear when around Norman.
Psycho II starts with the rather bold replay of Hitchcock's seminal shock set piece, The Shower scene. It's serves as a way to ease a modern audience into a storyline that had started over 20 years previously, but it also dares it's audience to except that times have changed and the classic Slasher beginnings with Hitchcock's Film have morphed and shaped into something new. The film slowly turns from Black and White to Color, and it now has to hold it's own with other films of the time. Brilliantly, the Writer and Director have settled on a Film that plays both to it's Classic storytelling roots as well as to the Modern Slasher.
1986's Psycho III may work more as a conventional Slasher Film, but Psycho II plays into the mystery and allows Norman Bates to really shine as a character. The best genre films are about the ones that are most conscious about playing with the balance between story and suspense. Franklin had a deft hand and makes Psycho II a pretty special affair. Rest in Peace, Mr. Hitchcock, Mr. Franklin and Mr. Perkins. Your contributions to the genre will never be forgotten.
Norman Bates: Faces of evil