Thursday, August 22, 2013

PSYCHO II (Scream Factory Blu-ray Release) - How Do You Follow Perfect?

 How do you follow up a movie like Psycho? Well, if you’re Richard Franklin and Tom Holland you’ve got Andre the Giant shoes to fill, and in all likelihood there’s no way you’ll be able to actually live up to your sequel’s predecessor in any facet of the your movie. Psycho was made in 1960 and is considered a groundbreaking, genre shifting film that scares the piss out of people to this day. Psycho II came out in 1983 nearly 23 years later and doesn’t quite have this impact, but it DOES have an impact. It’s a well put together psychological horror picture with performances of merit, its own haunting score and an adequate level of suspense. It also has a cult following of diehards that swear by it. The general movie watching population is sure to be familiar with the Hitchcock original but may not eve be aware of the sequels that followed. Now is the chance for them to become acquainted with the later life of Norman Bates. Scream Factory is setting up the meet and greet in this brand new Blu-ray release of Psycho II.

Synopsis from Scream Factory:

Anthony Perkins makes a terrifying homecoming in his role as the infamous Norman Bates, who after years of treatment in a mental institution for the criminally insane, has come home to run the Bates Motel. Vera Miles returns as the woman who is still haunted by her sister’s brutal murder in the ominous motel where it all occurred many years ago. Meg Tilly, Robert Loggia and Dennis Franz co-star in the terrifying sequel to Alfred Hitchock’s classic film.


Not from the Scream Factory Disc

I was very curious as to how Richard Franklin gets the job for Psycho II. Here’s an Aussie who directs a few movies including one softcore porn flick and a crime drama that is somehow asked to make the follow up to one of the best known movies in horror history. That’s where Patrick comes into play. That’s where Road Games comes into play. Patrick is an Ozploitation (the exploitation films of Australia) classic film that is truly startling though not entirely scary. Road Games starring Jamie Lee Curtis is a take off on the Hitchcock script Rear Window and is considered a piece of Ozploitation gold. That’s how you find Franklin in the director seat. He’s able to capture suspense and work with actors that disturb and captivate. It’s interesting that Franklin worked on Road Games with the daughter of one of the original stars of Psycho, Janet Leigh. So there’s a connection; a near synchronicity. Franklin’s on board and Tom Holland writes one Hell of a good script from which Franklin can create some very disturbing imagery.

And what of Anthony Perkins, Meg Tilly and Vera Miles? Excellent performances. Perkins as Norman Bates continues to disturb while actually making the viewer surprisingly at ease. That’s why Psycho worked so well. As Bates, Perkins new how to put you off just long enough to shock you when the time was right. Even though you may know the secret that has taken him from motel to asylum and back to the motel, you forget it. He’s just like all of us. Tilly’s performance is heartfelt. Vera Miles returns to recapture her role from the original Psycho in her final movie.

I hadn’t watched Psycho II since it was on HBO when I was a kid. Not that I had avoided it, but with Psycho IV most recent in my memory as well as the somewhat lackluster remake on my brain I wasn’t ready to give the franchise a second look. The Psycho series has been drawing some big time attention lately. That starts with the TV show The Bates Motel, an alternate universe of sorts surrounding Norman and his mommy. The original Psycho was released this past year on Blu-ray and became an instant collector’s edition. I believe it remains out of prints and sought after by fans (I’m lucky enough to have a copy). With the Scream Factory release, the series has something even more powerful to talk about. For the first time in the history of the franchise, the sequels are getting some much needed attention and back story.

You’re Scream Factory release includes the following features:

· All-new Audio Commentary with Screenwriter Tom Holland

· Vintage interviews with cast and crew including Anthony Perkins and director Richard Franklin

· Vintage audio interviews with cast and crew

· TV Spots

· Original Theatrical Trailer

This is a great way to get in touch with a film that does not necessarily share the same back story or fanfare as its predecessor. You have the ability to learn more about Richard Franklin who has a rich history in the horror genre all be it one that may not be as popular as Alfred Hitchcock, and visit with Tom Holland, the man behind everything from The Beast Within (a future Scream Factory title) to Child’s Play to Fright Night and its sequel. It’s a clean transfer, good audio, a nice set of special features listed above. The cover is the traditional cover with colorful images from the film on the reverse which is always haunting. Original artwork had been planned, but not approved for use. Don’t let that spoil your enjoyment of this limited edition.

Sometimes, as with remakes, the best way to enjoy a sequel is to give it its own life. Allow to be free from the franchise tag that can lead to damning comparisons. Psycho II can stand on its own as a well crafted scary movie, so maybe let it out of the shadow of the original picture. This release gives you the chance to give it that freedom.

You can pre-order Psycho II and Psycho III (review coming soon) from DiabolikDVD or visit the Scream Factory website and pick up the bundle of Psycho II, III and the documentary the Legacy at an affordable price.

Psycho II streets 9/24.


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