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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Richard Franklin
Cast:
Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles, Meg Tilly, Robert Loggia, Dennis Franz , Hugh Gillin, Claudia Bryar, Robert Alan Browne
Writing Credits:
Tom Holland, Robert Bloch (characters)

Tagline:
Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the shower!

Synopsis:
Anthony Perkins makes a terrifying homecoming in his roles as the infamous Norman Bates, who, after years of treatment in a mental institution for the criminally insane, has come home to run the Bates Motel. Vera Miles returns as the woman who is still haunted by her sister’s brutal murder and the ominous motel where it all occurred many years ago. Meg Tilly, Robert Loggia and Dennis Franz co-star in the terrifying sequel to Alfred Hitchcock’s classic film.

Box Office:
Budget
$5 million.
Domestic Gross
$32.000 million.

MPAA:
Rated R

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English DTS-HD MA 2.0
Subtitles:
English
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 113 min.
Price: $29.93
Release Date: 9/24/2013

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Writer Tom Holland
• Cast and Crew Interviews
• Theatrical Trailers
• TV Spots
• Still Gallery
• Audio-Only Cast and Crew Interviews


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Psycho II [Blu-Ray] (1983)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 27, 2013)

While I don’t know if it sets the record, it’s hard to think of a bigger gap between “initial film” and “sequel” than the period that separated the first two Psycho flicks. Alfred Hitchcock’s legendary original came out in 1960 but Psycho II wouldn’t make it to screens until 1983.

23 years between movies is an insanely long time, especially when the first film’s director died during that span. Nonetheless, II managed to bring back a few significant members of the Psycho team – and mustered enough business to inspire more sequels.

After 22 years confined in a psychiatric facility, murderer Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) gets released – against the strenuous objections of Lila Loomis (Vera Miles), sister of one of Norman’s victims. Norman heads back to his home and the Bates Motel, the literal scene of the crime.

This inspires some unpleasant memories – and these flashbacks signal that Norman may not be quite as “cured” as everyone might like. Still, he attempts to embrace a normal life and he takes on a job at a local diner. There he meets Mary (Meg Tilly), a co-worker who needs a place to stay after her boyfriend dumps her.

Back at the homestead, Mary becomes a resident – reluctantly at first, as Norman’s reputation precedes him, but she eventually comes to trust him. This sets up internal conflicts for Norman, who can’t quite shake his mental issues, especially since he thinks he still hears/sees messages from his dead mother. We follow Norman’s relationship with Mary, his attempts to remain in control, and related areas that lead to inevitable drama. <

Back when I first saw II in the early 1980s, I couldn’t call myself a big fan of the original. I’m pretty sure I saw the 1960 film before I watched the sequel but I don’t think the Hitchcock flick did a lot for me; I suspect I thought it was dated.

Chalk that up to teenage immaturity, as I’ve come to embrace Psycho as a genuinely great film over the last 30 years; indeed, it’s probably my favorite Hitchcock offering. It certainly left big shoes to fill in terms of a sequel.

Going into my 2013 screening of II, I tried as hard as I could to view it on its own terms; that seemed like the most fair way to judge it. However, this becomes a difficult task given how actively the filmmakers churn up memories of the original.

Of course, I expect some of this – why make a sequel that doesn’t reference the prior film? Nonetheless, I think II relies too heavily on its reflections of the first movie. It doesn’t really let tension build, as it telegraphs Norman’s continued instability too soon.

This lack of subtlety becomes a substantial flaw, as it never lets the movie breathe. Of course, II can’t pull off the same surprises as the original, so I understand its need to take a different path. Nonetheless, it could’ve left things less obvious and allowed the viewer some sense of growing anxiety instead of the in-your-face moments we find.

In truth, we get a threadbare story without much to carry the film on its own. It relies on allusions to the first movie’s glories and does little to develop its own identity – at least not until the end. I don’t want to provide spoilers, but the finale produces a major character twist that I don’t think works at all. It throws a big shock our way but feels like a cheat and a cheap attempt at a revelation. The flick doesn’t earn this and it seems like something that offers a crude invalidation of our prior understanding of the characters.

Even without that awful conclusion, II would be a dud. None of the actors do much with their parts, and that includes Perkins. So awesome in the first, he finds himself with little more than tics and superficial traits this time. I don’t really blame Perkins, as the script leaves him little room to develop the role, but it remains a shame that such a wonderful character turns into nothing more than a twitchy one-dimensional dope here.

I’ll say this: Psycho II easily could’ve been worse. I’ll soon screen Psycho III; after I view it, I may long for the theoretical pleasures of its predecessor. Nonetheless, II doesn’t ever become better than mediocre, and it’s usually a fairly pointless attempt to exploit prior glories.


The Disc Grades: Picture C+/ Audio C+/ Bonus C

Psycho II appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. I thought the transfer was satisfactory but not better than that.

Some of the problems stemmed from sharpness, which tended to be erratic. Exteriors and well-lit shots offered pretty good delineation, but interiors and lower-light elements lacked the expected definition; matters could become downright soft at times. Still, the majority of the flick showed pretty positive clarity, and I witnessed no issues with shimmering or jaggies. Neither edge haloes nor digital noise reduction interfered, but I saw occasional print flaws. These weren’t heavy, but periodic specks and marks appeared.

In terms of colors, Psycho II tended toward an earthy palette that looked decent. At times the hues seemed a bit heavy, but they were usually reasonably vivid. Blacks were acceptably dark, while shadows were okay; again, low-light elements could seem somewhat dense. This was a dated but watchable presentation.

I felt the same about the movie’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack. It opened up the spectrum in a fairly positive manner, with decent spread for the music and a moderate amount of effects information from the sides. We got some directional speech as well, and the surrounds fleshed out the material in a moderate manner. None of this broadened the imaging in a dynamic way, but it seemed satisfactory.

Audio quality tended to show the film’s age, however. Speech remained intelligible but could be somewhat edgy and reedy. Music was pretty good; the score didn’t boast great dynamics, but it remained fairly full. Effects lacked much impact, however, as those elements sounded a bit thin and lackluster. Given the movie’s age, I felt this was a mix that merited a “C+“.

When we move to the set’s extras, we open with an audio commentary from writer Tom Holland. Along with moderator/interviewer Robert Galluzzo, we get a running, screen-specific look at story/character/script areas, connections to the original film, cast and performances, sets and locations, and other production notes.

At its best, this is a passable commentary but no more – and it’s often not at its best. The biggest concern comes from Holland’s less than reliable memory, as he throws out quite a few goofs and head-scratchers along the way. Holland believes sequels rarely appeared back in 1983, which is kind of nuts; five of the year’s top 12-grossing movies were sequels, and that leaves off “notables” like Jaws 3 and Porky’s 2.

Holland also describes Psycho II as the year’s “biggest movie” and an enormous hit. Granted, it certainly made a profit, but its US gross of $34 million only landed it at number 20 for 1983. That left it a mere $212 million behind the year’s actual “biggest movie”, Return of the Jedi.

And so it goes. Holland tells us the Universal Studios tour was new in 1982; it’d been around for decades. He constantly refers to Psycho’s female lead as “Norma Crane”. These errors make it tough to accept his other statements as fact; if he can get so many simple topics wrong, how can we trust the rest of his comments?

Even if we don’t question Holland’s memory, the track seems lackluster. There’s just not a lot of meat to be found, as Holland and Galluzzo praise the film and its participants more than anything else. A smattering of decent notes emerge but this remains a bland chat.

Under Cast and Crew Interviews, we find a 35-minute, 21-second “electronic press kit”. It involves notes from director Richard Franklin, producer Hilton Green, executive producer Bernard Schwartz, Universal president Sid Sheinberg, and actors Janet Leigh, Vera Miles, and Anthony Perkins. We get notes about cast and crew, story/character issues and the challenges related to a sequel, sets and locations, and other production topics.

The show remains pretty promotional in nature – with lots of movie footage - so don’t expect much substance from it. Plus, the source tape is in rough shape, so we get dropouts and glitches along the way. The show’s mildly interesting for archival purposes but it lacks informational value.

In addition to two trailers and four TV spots, we find a still gallery. It shows 77 images; we get a mix of production shots, promotional elements, and behind the scenes photos. These add up to a fairly interesting set.

The disc also offers an audio-only option for Cast and Crew Interviews. It offers notes from Perkins, Miles, Franklin, and Leigh, we also get older comments from filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock. Rather than give us one long program, we find a bunch of short radio spots; these finish around the movie’s 15:35 mark.

I don’t understand why the disc’s producers gave us these ads as accompaniment to the movie; they would’ve been better off on their own, mostly because the set doesn’t make it clear they’re done, so we may let the film run in hopes we’ll hear more.

Not that we’ll have particularly great hopes for that possible continuation, as the segments don’t offer much of interest. Some clips regurgitate material from the video EPK, and even the “new” material is pretty bland. As with the EPK, this is a decent addition for archival reasons, but it presents few useful moments.

After 23 years, Psycho finally got a sequel – and it didn’t remotely live up to its predecessor. While I can’t call Psycho II a truly bad film, I think it lacks any real strengths and it doesn’t advance the characters or narrative in a positive manner. The Blu-ray offers average picture and audio along with average bonus materials. Psycho II comes with some promise but it fails to deliver an interesting take.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.75 Stars Number of Votes: 8
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02:
21:
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main