Serbian Issue 18 cover

Reviewed by Kevin Klemm

Psycho II

Blu-Ray release date: 9/24/13.
Approximate Running Time: 113 Minutes.
Rating:  R.
Blu-Ray Released by: Shout Factory.
SRP: $29.93

The Film

        Ah Norman, it’s good to have you back!  Like that creepy uncle who suddenly shows up on your doorstep after a long absence, Norman Bates returns home after 22 years in a mental hospital, looking to pick up the pieces (or maybe a knife) and reclaim the life he once had.  They say the road to Hell is paved with good intentions and that is exactly where we feel we’re going as we watch Norman’s re-entry into 1983 small town America.  A lot has changed since Norman went away.  The motel has been run in his absence by Mr. Toomey (a suitably slimy Dennis Franz), who makes up for the motels out of the way location by turning it into a “by the hour” joint.  Norman’s psychiatrist, Dr. Raymond (the always solid Robert Loggia) tries his best to be there for Norman, but admits that due to “Budget Cuts” they don’t have the manpower to have someone check in on him on a regular basis.  He does line up a job for Norman at the local diner, which one must assume were suitably impressed by the knife experience on his resume.  It is at this diner that he meets an older waitress by the name of Mrs. Spool (Claudia Bryar),a motherly figure to all who work there, and Mary (Meg Tilly) who seems to have a good heart, but has misfortune following her around like a horny hound.  It is that cloud of misfortune that draws Norman to her as a kindred spirit and they become unlikely partners, both trying to navigate a world they don’t understand, and all the while trying to adhere to their own code of “Right and Wrong”.  Throw in a character from Norman’s past, Lila Loomis, formally Lila Crane, (Vera Miles, reprising her roll from the original film), phone calls from Norman’s dead mother, and murders that may or may not be committed by Norman himself and you have a film that keeps you guessing until the final reel.  Hats off to screenwriter Tom Holland, who jumped into writing following years as an actor, and who then went on to direct such seminal horror films as “Fright Night” and “Child’s Play”.  With Psycho II, Holland crafts a story that would have made Hitchcock proud and undoubtedly squirm in his seat.  Add the cinematography of John Carpenter regular Dean Cundy, the producing acumen of Hitchcock alum Hilton Green, and the directing chops of Richard Franklin, and you have a sequel that was well worth the wait. It is well known that Richard Franklin was hired due to the Hitchcockian esthetics demonstrated in his films “Patrick” and “Road Games”, but one cannot help but wonder what Psycho II would have looked like if it had been make by another Hitchcock devotee, Brian De Palma.  I don’t think he was ever considered, especially since the film was initially intended as a direct to cable production, but it would have been a brilliant choice.



  • All New Audio Commentary with Screenwriter Tom Holland.
  • Vintage Video and Audio Interviews with Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles, and Director Richard Franklin.
  • Theatrical Trailer.
  • TV Spot.


Final Thoughts

It’s not fair to compare this film to the sheer genius of the original, but it really does stand on it’s own in the canon of the Psycho universe.  You can tell that this project was a labor of love for all involved, and once Universal got completely on board, they really made some great decisions concerning this production.  And what can you say about the character of Norman Bates?  He set the bar for creepy killers hiding in plain sight.  You could say that modern characters, such as Dexter Morgan, albeit different in many respects, can trace their lineage all the way back to the man who started it all… Norman Bates.

I give this movie, four out of five corpses.

Psycho III

Blu-Ray release date: 9/24/13.
Approximate Running Time: 93 Minutes.
Rating:  R.
Blu-Ray Released by: Shout Factory.
SRP: $29.93

The Film

            Following the success of Psycho II, Universal gave the green light to Psycho III.  This film would turn out to be the directorial debut of Anthony Perkins (Norman Bates), and what proved to be an interesting aside, when Perkins was asked to reprise the roll of Norman Bates, he refused unless he could direct the picture.  Since Perkins had Universal by the proverbial short hairs, the studio had no choice but to agree and production started in the summer of 1985.  In this outing, which is supposed to take place one month after Psycho II ended, Norman is keeping busy with taxidermy and waiting for the occasional guest to stop by.  One of the guests who gets pulled into Norman’s orbit is a former nun (Diana Scarwid) running away from God and herself, and the other is a loveable, though untrustworthy drifter (Jeff Fahey) who sees an opportunity at the Bates Motel and seizes it.  Throw into the mix a nosey reporter who will do anything to get some dirt on Norman, along with a suddenly full weekend at the motel and you have more than enough cannon fodder for Norman Bates to do what he does best.  In terms of box office, Psycho III was the least profitable of all the films in the franchise.  Part of that blame falls squarely on Anthony Perkins scrawny shoulders.  His inexperience as a director clearly is at fault here and he seems to be all over the place as far as the film’s tone and look.  He was clearly inspired by the Cohen brothers debut film “Blood Simple” and even had a screening of it for the cast and crew prior to filming, but the result is that the setting now looks like a dry Texas landscape as opposed to the California vistas of the previous films.  The opening “There is no God” sequence provides a nod to Hitchcock, as well as sets the tone of what’s to come, but as the film moves along it suffers an identity crisis.  At its heart it wants to be more like Hitchcock’s film, but it also feels the pressure of the burgeoning “Slasher” craze that was sweeping Hollywood at the time.  This dichotomy is what causes the film to lose its way.   What does hold the film together and ultimately saves it, is the screenplay by Charles Edward Pogue and a very talented group of actors.  As usual, Anthony Perkins portrayal of Norman Bates is full of subtle nuances, which is to be expected due to how well he knows this character.  Though not a strong as the previous two outings, Psycho III is enjoyable and deserves a place in your horror collection.  Shout Factory did a great job with this Blu-ray edition, as it did with Psycho II, and hats off to them for continually releasing fan favorites in definitive blu-ray editions.


  • New Audio Commentary with Screenwriter Charles Edward Pogue.
  • Watch the Guitar- New Interview with Actor Jeff Fahey.
  • Patsy’s Last Night- New Interview with Actress Katt Shea.
  • Mother’s Maker- Interview with Special Make-up Effects Creator Michael Westmore.
  • Body Double- Interview with Brinke Stevens.
  • Original Theatrical Trailer.


Final Thoughts

There is something exciting about watching any director’s first film.  Sometimes they hit it out of the park on the first pitch, like Tom Holland did with “Fright Night” or Charles Laughton with “The Night of the Hunter”.  Other times a director’s first film gets lost in trying to be too many things and as a result loses it identity. Such was the case with Psycho III.  Anthony Perkins had a lot of cinematic influences and ideas and it would have been interesting to see where he would have taken them in the future.  Unfortunately he was turned down as director of Psycho IV: The Beginning in 1990, so we have no way of knowing how that film would have been with him at the helm.  Still, with all its faults, it’s still fun to sit down with Norman and watch how he interacts with the world.

I give this movie, three out of five corpses.


The Psycho Legacy

DVD release date: 9/24/13.
Approximate Running Time: 87 Minutes.
Rating:  Unrated.
DVD Released by: Shout Factory.
SRP: $19.93

The Film
            Do you love the Psycho films?  Then you are really going to love this Documentary!  Director Robert V. Galluzzo sits down and talks all things Psycho.  I’m talking Psycho through Psycho IV: The Beginning.  He talks with many of the principals involved in the making of those films, along with various writers, directors and journalists about their first impressions and the impact these films had on their own work.  Unfortunately, some of the people I really would have liked to have heard from concerning these films, including Anthony Perkins and Richard Franklin, had passed away prior to the making of this film.  As much as the film would have been stronger with the addition of reminisces of those two people, there is still a lot of material to keep the die hard fan happy.  In fact, there is so much material; they had to add a separate bonus disc.


 2nd Disc with over 3 hours of bonus features including:

  • Extended and Deleted Scenes.
  • Full Panel Discussion with Anthony Perkins.
  • The Psycho Reunion Panel.
  • A Tour of the Bates Motel.
  • Revisiting Psycho II.
  • Shooting Psycho II
  • A Visit with Psycho Memorabilia Collector Guy Thorpe.
  • Psycho on the Web.
  • The Hyaena Gallery Presents Serial-Killer-Inspired Art.
  • …. And Much, Much More!


Final Thoughts

Documentaries are a hard sell these days and I have a lot of respect for fan based filmmakers that are so passionate about the genre that they will go out and create the ultimate retrospective for their favorite film or films.  That is the case with The Psycho Legacy.  Though hampered by budget constraints and the sheer volume of material, you can tell that this film was a labor of love and that adds so much more to a production’s value than budget alone.  So if you love the Psycho movies as much as I do, this film is a must have for your collection!

I give this movie, four out of five corpses.
*Note: You want a great deal?  How about all three films bundled together for only $48.90? This bundle includes both the Psycho II and Psycho III Blu-ray Collector's Editions as well as The Psycho Legacy DVD for only an additional $5.00!  This is an amazing deal and can only be found on the Scream Factory Website.
Click here to order: shoutfactory.com/node/218064

Psycho Mother Corpse Courtesy Kevin Klemm – The Ed Gein Collection
Photo by R.S. Rhine