An unlikely sequel produced a whole 23 years after the first horror classic, Psycho II is released courtesy of Arrow Films with the care and attention, not to mention the copious extras we have come to expect from the well-renowned label.
Most films that come out years after the first or at least the last in a franchise (I'm looking at you Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull), are often well past their best. Psycho II was released in 1983, 23 years after the first film in 1960, initiated by Psycho author Robert Bloch's follow-up novel. While some might have questioned its right to exist, it was produced - although this time not based upon the source material - and made a bucket load of cash at the box office and bucking the trend of (most) sequels is actually rather good.
In 1982, after 22 years incarceration, Norman Bates is released from psychiatric care. Lila Loomis (Vera Miles), Marion Crane's sister protests against his release but is largely ignored. After being returned to the iconic house and motel, Norman starts a job in a local greasy spoon where he takes a shine to a co-worker called Mary Samuels.
Having seen the original film more times than I can count (even on the big screen for a recent birthday) I was shocked to see how comical the film played in parts but not Psycho II. Directed by Richard Franklin (Patrick, Roadgames) and written by Tom Holland (Fright Night, Child's Play) it is an intriguing and well-plotted dive into the mental health of our main character played by Anthony Perkins as he grows ever closer to Mary while receiving more and more messages from 'Mother'. Mary, played by Meg Tilly (The Big Chill, Body Snatchers) plays the character on just the right side of the naivety as the audience guess alongside her as to whether Norman is getting back to his murderous ways.
The success of the film can be also attributed to director Richard Franklin who had been a long time admirer of Hitchcock and the reverence he holds for the original material shows across the film, understandably replicating shots and using aspects of Psycho throughout. See the impossible p-o-v shots as Norman carries 'Mother' around. Anthony Perkins is clearly in his element playing the character he created even with the lengthy gap between films.
The presentation by Arrow Video is a digital transfer from Original Film Elements. The film is well presented with a noticeable but not obtrusive level of grain throughout. Some shots of the famous house are clearly wrapped with matte paintings which gives the film an old-school charm and the disc makes these stand out more than normal.
Another packed edition from the folks at Arrow Films as always. Audio commentary from writer Tom Holland is included and is an interesting listen as he discusses how he got into the business and the pressure he felt as he was only just starting out when he wrote the script and didn't want to blow his big chance in Hollywood. Other extras include: a never before heard audio interview with Richard Franklin, archive interview with Anthony Perkins, vintage EPK material featuring interviews with the cast and crew, a stills gallery and reversible sleeve featuring newly commissioned artwork by Adam Rabalais, as well as the always present trailers and TV spots. In addition, and limited to first pressing only, a collector' booklet containing new writing on the film and a reprint of a chapter of Richard Franklin's unpublished autobiography detailing his work on Psycho II.
A worthy sequel of a classic Hitchcockian-horror. There is enough here to be an entertaining film with strong performances across the board and strong collaboration between director and writer. In terms of supplemental features, any discerning film fan will enjoy the large selection of extras and find out more than they ever wanted about the film and its production. Arrow Films is always on point with the feature presentation and the additional extras.
Psycho II is released on July 31st and can be ordered here: Arrow Films