Psycho II

Year: 1983
Studio: Universal
Director: Richard Franklin
Writer: Tom Holland
Cast: Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles, Meg Tilly, Robert Loggia, Dennis Franz

Back when this film came out I'd seen Alfred Hitchcock's untouchable original on TV, knowing even as a teenager what a classic it was. So when Psycho II was released I remember thinking what a stupid idea it was to make a sequel to one of cinema's greatest horror classics and how it was probably a dumb movie that wouldn't be able to hold a candle to the original.

Cut to decades later and I read a story online about what an uncelebrated classic it is so out of curiosity, I sought it out.

It's 22 years after the events of Psycho and Norman (Anthony Perkins) has been released back into the community, declared sane and cured by psychiatrists that include Dr Raymond (Robert Loggia), who looks in on him to make sure he's feeling okay.

And he is, intending to give the motel a lick of paint and reopen it, until then getting a job as a short order cook in the diner out of town. There be befriends pretty Mary (Meg Tilly), a waitress with a rotten boyfriend who can't get her life together.

Norman offers her a room at the house and all appears to be going swimmingly at first, but then mother starts leaving notes around the place that say things like 'get that slut out of my house or I'll kill her'. Clearly – to the audience if nobody else – Norman is decidedly not better.

Things get creepier and the danger grows as he tries his hardest to get on with his life and ignore his overbearing mother, but the bodies start piling up. There's a twist subplot that includes Vera Miles playing Lila (sister of Norman's original victim Marion from the original film), and her connection to Mary provides a third act shift.

Some clever plotting sets Norman up to look like the innocent party amidst a series of unfortunate accidents and harassment, but is it enough to make the classic it was supposed to be, as I read years later?

Even though it's a bit of disposable fun there's nothing remotely scary in the film, but while the direction by Aussie Richard Franklin (who made the original Patrick) is fairly pedestrian, it obviously did well enough to warrant another sequel – they let Perkins himself direct Psycho III a couple of years later that scored about the same with critics.

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