Director: Richard Franklin
Year of release: 1983
Country of origin: USA/Australia
Running time: 113 minutes
DVD/Blu ray: Both
Tagline: "It's 22 years later and Norman Bates is coming home", "The Bates Mlotel is back in business" and "Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the shower".
Also known as: Psicosis 2
Casting the spotlight on the slasher genre
Story: Twenty two years on from being committed to a psychiatric unit Norman is declared sane and said to no longer be a threat to society. As such he is released back into the world despite the very public protests of Lila, Marion Cranes sister from the original who’s petition here is not enough to disrupt Norman’s release.
Upon returning home to the Bates Motel Norman initially seems to be doing well though cracks begin to appear after a mysterious bunch of noises and phone calls at the motel lead Norman to believe that his late Mother is trying to contact him. These problems only seem to intensify after Norman takes a young woman named Mary into his home.
As Norman’s sanity is eroded by what he believes to be the return of his Mother from beyond the grave people begin dying as the film builds towards a memorable conclusion where we are all the while trying to work out if Norman himself is back to his old tricks or if something more complex is going on.
Good points: *Despite taking place and indeed being made many, many years after the original this sequel has quite a similar feel and comes across very much as a true continuation of the story. This is helped along by the return of Vera Miles as Lila and of course Antony Perkins as the ever intriguing Norman Bates. The return of the setting of the Bates Motel itself further strengthens the connections with the classic original. On top of this Norman’s Mother’s presence is ever present mentally if not necessarily physically and the mystery surrounding her as with the original turns out to be very central to the story.
*Though horror films aren’t generally known for their great acting we get a very good performance here from Antony Perkins who’s character more than ever this time is very layered and someone we can easily sympathise with as well as be wary of. Perkins does a fine job of portraying a man who at first seems to be rooted back in normality only to slowly unravel and fall back almost into his old mindset as events progress. Meg Tilly is also in fine form as Mary and despite rumblings of her and Perkins not seeing eye to eye on set at the time you wouldn’t know it from what we see as they are very good together. The support actors in smaller roles are mostly on point as well with special mention going to Robert Loggia as Norman’s concerned Doctor, Vera Miles playing a much more bitter Lila character this time and Denis Franz as the sleazy Mr Toomy.
*I really enjoyed the story in this sequel as it was intricate and felt like something that a lot of thought had be put into. The work of Tim Holland of Fright Night and the original Child’s Play fame the script is full of twists and turns and in my case it kept me guessing up until the very end as to exactly who the true villain really was. Story-wise it has the feel of something that has been meticulously crafted to try and hold up as much as possible to the iconic original, to do justice to it if you like instead of just some cobbled together cash in which can sometimes be the case with sequels.
*As good as Hitchcock’s Psycho was by todays standards it comes across as tame in what it shows of the deaths due to the time in which it was made mainly but with this one being made in the slasher hey-day of the Eighties it can afford to be more graphic. We bare witness to more gore this time and though they don’t over-do things or go too over the top we get a few bloody moments the highlight of which is a knife being thrust through someone’s mouth.
*The musical score is very effective and creates a fitting atmosphere. Although we don’t get anything as memorable as the classic shower scene from the first film a lot of the piano work heard here is pleasing and suits the film well.
Bad Points: *Things are slightly unrealistic in a couple of areas mainly in that Norman is even allowed out of the psychiatric ward in the first place. You would think that after killing several people as he did that he would be serving a life sentence regardless of whether or not he was found to be insane at the time of committing the murders. Even if for some reason he did get released you wouldn’t think he would be allowed or even want to return to the same house and town where the crimes occurred. Possibly he would be given a new identity and relocated to another city or state where he would be carefully monitored. I can’t remember for sure but it may have said in the Blu-Ray extras that there were intended to be more people checking on him which would have helped this issue but due to budget cuts this role fell purely just to the Doctor Raymond character. Still seems a bit far-fetched though so maybe they could have just mentioned he had a psychiatrist or whoever checking on him, it’s not as if we actually had to see it onscreen.
Having said all this there would be no movie of course if he turned out to be serving a life sentence unless he escaped which would have then been a completely different movie. Plus I guess with Norman’s crimes occurring back in 1960 perhaps the justice system wasn’t as strict back then or the social/mental health workers not as diligent.
Big spoiler: On a similar unrealistic note you could say it’s odd that Norman is allowed to return home at the end of the film after sustaining the knife wounds as you would think he would be required to spend at least a night or two in the hospital with those injuries.
*Spoiler: There is a minor nit-pick inconsistency at the end with the Sheriff telling the media that Mary was insisting Norman was crazy until the end but when the police busted in she didn’t actually use the word crazy at all. Doesn’t matter really but just a small thing I noticed.
Verdict: After initially being a bit sceptical going in due to the huge gap between this and the Hitchcock Psycho my doubts were very quickly put to rest and I ended up having a fantastic time with this film. In fact I’d go as far to say that I enjoyed it just as much if not more than the original which is really saying something taking into account what a masterpiece the first one was. Easily for me one of the best sequels ever made.
Bodycount (contains major spoilers):
1)Mr Toomy: Stabbed in the face in the motel office.
2)Teenage boy: Stabbed many times in the fruit cellar after he failed to escape out of the window.
3)Lila: Stabbed in the mouth with the blade coming out of the back of her head/neck.
4)Dr Raymond: Stabbed by accident by Mary close to staircase handrail. He ends up falling over the bannisters to the ground floor which pushes the knife in further.
5)Mary: Shot dead by the police.
6)Mrs Spool: Hit in the back of the head with a shovel by Norman.