“I don’t kill people anymore, remember?”
Declared legally sane after 22 years in a mental institution, Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) tries to establish a new life for himself back at his motel — but as bodies begin piling up, he soon discovers that someone is out to convince him his dead mother is still alive…
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Anthony Perkins Films
- Mental Illness
- Murder Mystery
- Serial Killers
Three years after Hitchcock’s death, director Richard Franklin helmed this sequel-cum-homage starring two members from the original Psycho‘s cast: Vera Miles as Marion Crane’s vengeance-seeking sister, Lila, and — most critically — Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates. In his review of Psycho II, Roger Ebert notes that “the first thing is to put Alfred Hitchcock’s original 1960 Psycho right out of your mind” — a point well-taken to a certain extent, given that Psycho II doesn’t begin to scale the heights of Hitchcock’s groundbreaking masterpiece. At the same time, however, Psycho II is likely to be most enjoyable to those who love and remember the original, given that nearly every scene plays upon one’s intimate knowledge of camera placement, set design, and character development from the first film.
With that said, Psycho II actually works on its own as a reasonably engaging, campy thriller, with enough plot twists and nasty surprises to satisfy most horror fans. Perkins is note-perfect as an older, more sympathetic Norman, who we grow to genuinely care for — as does Meg Tilly’s sexy waitress Mary, who at first seems like the ultimate putz for daring to sleep over at Norman’s house, but whose true motivations for spending time around Norman are soon revealed. As long as one can buy the initial, highly unlikely premise that Bates would be released on his own, back to his childhood home, rather than to a halfway house, the remainder of the story gradually clicks into place, and ends on a surprisingly freaky, satisfying note.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Anthony Perkins as an older Norman Bates
- Meg Tilly as Mary
- An affectionate homage to Hitchcock’s classic
- Plenty of unexpected thrills, chills, and twists
Yes, as a noteworthy — albeit inevitably inferior — follow-up to Hitchcock’s famous thriller. Listed as a Sleeper and a Personal Recommendation in the back of Peary’s book.