Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Scream Factorized: PSYCHO II & III on Blu-ray and PSYCHO LEGACY ""

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Scream Factorized: PSYCHO II & III on Blu-ray and PSYCHO LEGACY

PSYCHO II(1983; Richard Franklin)
It's interesting to me that Richard Franklin chose to open PYSCHO II with the iconic shower sequence from the first PSYCHO film(in B&W of course). Trying to put myself into his head and the heads of moviegoers in 1983, I see how it makes sense. Not everyone was familiar with the film(as classic as it was/is) so you have to set the stage. And the fact that this sequel takes place 22 years after the first film(in real life as well as in the story) has always seemed to me a neat way to continue things with Norman Bates. As this part of the tale begins, Norman is being released from a mental institution after a hearing declaring him' restored to sanity'. Vera Miles returns as her character from the first film and she is of course beside herself with anger and anguish that Norman is being let go.
There's a great tension in the film that's well played by Anthony Perkins . Norman is constantly being reminded of his past -flashbacks to his mother's death, the room key to bungalow #1, kitchen knives, a pretty co-worker(played by Meg Tilly). Perkins plays the 'man on the edge' role very well.
In Norman's absence a sleazebag manager played perfectly by Dennis Franz(straight out of a De Palma film)has taking over running the Bates Motel. He and Norman are at odds right off the bat and his presence in the film ups the tension ante a bit more.
The late great director Richard Franklin was a confessed Hitchcock devotee and a nice choice to helm this follow-up. He is a man who clearly cares about Norman Bates as a character and that affection comes through and ultimately makes for a more suspenseful movie. I first became aware of Franklin when I was very young and saw CLOAK & DAGGER for the first time. I was obsessed with that movie and it wasn't until many years later that I saw the Hitchcock influence throughout that movie. For another great example of Hitchcock-influenced Franklin filmmaking, I highly recommend checking out his oft neglected movie ROAD GAMES.
PSYCHO II works for a kid of the 80s like me in that it combines elements of the original thriller with a darker, more R-rated slasher vibe(tip of the hat to a clever script by Tom Holland). It's a nice melding of the two worlds so to speak. It's a VHS-era horror classic and that was the way I first viewed it. I think it was one that I watched in the earliest phases of my slasher movie obsession as a teenager. Might have been sort of a gateway. I have one very fond memory of watching this movie with a good friend of mine way back when. There's a scene with a shovel, & I won't spoil it, but we rewound it over and over with the sound down so we could add our own dialogue over it. We laughed and laughed. It even became an in joke between us and we would sometimes greet each other with some of that dialogue we came up with that night. Because of that(and because it's a well put-together movie), this film will always have a special place in my heart.
PSYCHO II really is an example of what a solid sequel can be in that it does a nice job of expanding upon the world of the first film and the main character within it. A good sequel is often also a movie that works as a standalone like this one does. It's always been a rare thing that a sequel or a reboot does enough interesting stuff to live up to the original and justify its own existence. Sequels are by nature are cash grabs for the most part so it's not unfair to be skeptical of them right out of the gate. Every so often though, you get a gem like this that is really worthwhile and worth rediscovering.
The new Scream Factory Blu-ray is another case of "looks good and loaded with extras" so it is well worth picking up. The supplements package includes:
-The original electronic press kit from the film which is a 35 minute making-of that includes archival interviews with Richard Franklin and cast members from the original film and the sequel.
-A commentary track with writer Tom Holland moderated by Rob Galluzzo of FEARnet & Icons of Fright.
-Play Film With Cast and Crew Interviews – Audio Only- Different interviews from the presskit that can be played as a commentary track under the film.

PSYCHO III(1986; Anthony Perkins)
"The never really past. It stays with me all the time. And no matter how hard I try, I can't really escape." - Norman Bates
This movie has a cover that I absolutely remember from many video store horror sections of my youth. It has that very eye-catching nature to it what with Norman Bates dangling the room key like that. It's very much saying, "I'm baaaack," and that this is the old Norman almost daring you to take cabin #1 and see what he does. Anthony Perkins himself took over the directing reigns on this movie and it was his directorial debut(he only directed one other film after this sadly).
PSYCHO III finds Norman Bates more or less back to his old self after having been psychologically twisted and tormented by the events of the previous film. It really picks up pretty much where part 2 left off(about a month later or so). It is more along the lines of what we would see today as a"reboot" of sorts and is not quite as interesting or original in what it is trying to do as PSYCHO II was. Still, it is nice to see the PSYCHO universe again existing in an updated r-rated 1980s slasher world(though this approach rather homogenizes Norman Bates and makes him into more of a 'franchise' character). This film has a sequence with and ice machine that has stuck with me since I first saw it many years ago. I actually thought I remembered it from PSYCHO II and kept waiting for when I was rewatching that film. Enjoyable for the performances of Perkins and Jeff Fahey(as charming if asshole-y drifter musician who starts working at the Bates Motel).
Extra Features on this disc include:
-Watch the Guitar: An Interview with Jeff Fahey (16:49)
-Patsy's Last Night: An Interview with Katt Shea (8:40)
-Mother's Maker: An Interview with Special Make-Up Effects Creator Michael Westmore (11:12)
-Body Double with Brinke Stevens (5:14)
-Audio Commentary with Screenwriter Charles Edward Pogue

THE PSYCHO LEGACY(2010; Rob Galluzzo)
Also put out by Shout! Factory, this lovely little retrospective documentary was made by Rob Galluzzo, co-creator of Icons of Fright and a FEARnet contributor. In it, Galluzzo talks to most of the surviving participants in the franchise's history as well as other writers and filmmakers. The list of those featured includes: Henry Thomas, Olivia Hussey, Robert Loggia, Tom Holland, Mick Garris, Jeff Fahey, Diana Scarwid, Katt Shea, Hilton Green, Stuart Gordon, Adam Green, Joe Lynch and more. Anthony Perkins has many bits within the film which I believe were taken from some convention footage(shot before his death in 1992 obviously). Galluzzo spends something like 20 mins on each of the four films and what comes through is a nice look back at the creative circumstances(writing, directing, casting, music) surrounding the making of the movies and their reception at the time of their release. It is interesting to hear all of those that worked with Anthony Perkins speak of what he was like as an actor and as a director. It sounds as though he was a wonderful man who was kind to his actors, but who could occasionally be demanding as actor himself. Overall it is a neat tribute to Perkins and makes one saddened that he left us so early.
Special Features on disc one include a reel of eight Deleted Scenes,  and nine extended interviews. The set includes a 2nd  disc of bonus features including the full 42 minute convention video of Anthony Perkins from which the doc derived its Perkins footage. Also there's a short featurette with audio from a PSYCHO Reunion Panel as well as a host of other featurettes:
-"A Tour of the Bates Motel"
-"Revisiting PSYCHO II"
-"Shooting PSYCHO II"
-"A Visit with PSYCHO Memorabilia Collector Guy Thorpe"
-"Norman Bates in Print: Robert Bloch, Author of Psych0"
"PSYCHO on the Web"

All of these discs are available from Shout! Factory and they even have a special deal right now wherein if you buy Psycho II and Psycho III you can get The Psycho Legacy for only an additional $5.00! (This bundle is available on Blu-ray and DVD)

No comments: