Psycho II (1983) Movie Review
Written By: Angela DiLella
Edited By: Grave Reviews Staff
Director: Richard Franklin
Producers: Hilton A. Green and Bernard Schwartz
Writers: Tom Holland, based on characters by Robert Bloch
Date Released: June 3, 1983
Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates
Meg Tilly as Mary
Vera Miles as Lila Crane Loomis
Rating = 3/5 Graves
***May contain some spoilers***
Twenty-two years after Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) was found guilty of several murders and institutionalized, it has been decided that he has been rehabilitated and can reenter society. Bates returns to his old home and tries to beat back his fear that his mother is still lurking while forming a bond with Mary (Meg Tilly), the niece of his last victim twenty-two years ago, Marion Crane.
There is a bit of blood from the occasional stabbing and bathroom fixtures that become flooded with blood. You do see some of the injuries up close and personally. It won’t scratch the biggest gore hound’s itch for blood and guts, but it feels like an appropriate update to the original movie’s volume.
The Grave Review
It seems a crime to make a sequel to a classic like Psycho (1960), but Psycho II has a decent story. What if Norman came back? Obviously, things aren’t going to go well, but the way they call back to the first movie and drop hints that Norman isn’t doing as well as his doctor thought are handled well. In a weird way, Norman is still likeable, just as he was in the first movie, even when he said unusual things or acted strangely or downright nefariously. You want Norman to be able to melt into normal society, but when he gets upset over things like people having sex in the old motel (under temporary management while Norman was institutionalized), well, you know it just isn’t going to work out. As he begins falling into his old ways, things only spiral downward, and it’s genuinely hard to watch him struggle against what he knows can’t be true but can’t fight, either. The story gets needlessly complicated towards the end, but it pays off neatly, so it is possible to look past any ungainliness.
Much of the strength the movie has comes from Anthony Perkins himself, who seems to have returned to his old role as easily as slipping on an old coat. Part of what makes Norman Bates so frightening is that he is charming in his odd way and when he’s the star of the show, it’s so easy to root for him and want him to succeed, despite what he has done and could be continuing to do. He really challenges the viewer, and thank goodness that he does, because the rest of the cast hardly does.
Meg Tilly, on the other hand, plays Mary as the most blasé young woman in the world, considering she’s staying in a house with a man who’s clearly unraveling and has a history of murdering young women. There’s a convoluted bit about how Mary and her mother are trying to mess with Norman to prove he’s unstable and get him sent back to the asylum, so you could make the argument that she didn’t think she was in any real danger, but if you woke up to a man with a history standing over you with a huge knife, wouldn’t you panic just a bit? She does bring a good game at the movie’s climax when she finally confronts Norman while dressed as his deceased mother that makes up for her sedate acting, though.
Psycho II was actually a fairly successful sequel to such a classic, well-known film. It didn’t fill Psycho’s big shoes, but it was able to slip them on without stumbling too much. It kept me entertained and the whodunit aspect is enjoyable—the movie does a good job of subverting expectations even with so much that should be working against Norman Bates. If nothing else, fans of the original will enjoy the references and callbacks to it, such as Mary peeking through a peephole into a bathroom in the same manner Norman does when he spied on Marion twenty-two years earlier, or the camera rising so the viewer gets to watch Norman from the same angle they watched Arbogast (Martin Basalm) before he met his end in 1960. The set designers did a fantastic job recreating the house as well, and many props are the originals. It’s also fun to see how the slasher genre had to update to stay with the times—there’s a bit of nudity, there’s a bit more blood and violence; one must wonder if Alfred Hitchcock, had he lived to see Psycho II, would be annoyed to know that details he had to fight to keep in his film would be the expected norm for the sequel!
For the foregoing reasons, Grave Reviews gives Psycho II (1983) three graves out of five graves.
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