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.