For horror fans, there are not many films as highly regarded as Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece Psycho. It is the granddaddy of the modern slasher movie and regarded even by those outside of the horror genre as one of the greatest films ever made. As with most iconic and treasured films of this pedigree, people are hesitant to see the films messed with, remade, or have sequels made to. But 22 years after Psycho, Hitchcock collaborator and fan Richard Franklin took control over a sequel to one of the most famous films ever. Psycho II proved to be a huge box office success and not only garnered some good reviews but went on to be one of the most loved sequels ever made. Three years later Norman himself, Anthony Perkins, would step behind the camera to direct the second sequel and to take the story and tone of the series in a whole new direction. Reviews were mixed at best but over the years Psycho fans have embraced Psycho III as a classic of the genre as well.
In Psycho II, Norman Bates has been released after 21 years of incarceration in a mental institution and he wants nothing more than to be left alone and get on with his life. He befriends a girl (Meg Tilly) whom he works with at a local diner and things seem to be returning to normal. But when Norman’s original victim’s sister Lila Crane (played once again by Vera Miles) takes out her grief by trying to drive Norman mad again, Norman must try and keep hold of his sanity despite his recovery.
Psycho III follows Norman as he continues to run Bates Motel and live with the corpse of his mother. Maureen, a young nun, leaves the convent and takes shelter at Norman’s motel, bringing up not only dark memories but dark impulses.
Psycho II and III are among the best horror sequels ever made in my opinion. While Psycho III is more of a fun romp through familiar Psycho territory, it is Psycho II that always stands out for me as the superior sequel. Back in the days of VHS, I used to watch Psycho II with the color turned off on my TV, it felt that authentic and right when paired with Hitchcock’s original. Perkin’s performance is just as nuanced and gentle as his performance in the original film, while Franklin’s sure hand as director and knowledge of Hitchcock keep the film visually and structurally in line with Psycho. This is just a stellar film whether taken as a sequel or even on its own.
Psycho III tends to be much more obvious and in your face, especially in the gore department, showing more on screen carnage than both of the other films combined. But it still retains a slick style and a welcome tongue in cheek sense of humor. Perkins continues to do a stellar job as Bates, but is also very stylistically different behind the camera, showcasing his own sensibilities into the Psycho mythos.
The Blu-ray’s from Shout Factory’s Scream Factory label are excellent and miles above the previous DVD versions. Clarity and detail on both are greatly improved and the clean up on the prints looks extensive as well. For horror fans, Psycho II and Psycho III are essential titles that should be in your collection as soon as possible.
Available now on Blu-ray and DVD.