Remembering Psycho II
Psycho II in my opinion was the best of the Psycho movies for several reasons. However, I am not going to sit here and suggest that the original Psycho isn't a classic. It absolutely is. The original was released on September 8, 1960 and to this very day the music, the house, Norman Bates and the shower scene are all iconic. I am 46 years old and I still lock the door when I take a shower and have been doing so ever since I first saw Psycho on TV back in the late 70's when I was just 8 or 9 years old. The film is a masterpiece.
That being said, there are things about it that keep me from watching it again. Sure, if someone hasn't seen it, I would enjoy sitting through it again to experience it through their eyes. But, for me to just pop in the DVD and watch it by myself, probably not going to happen. It's slow, it's 45 minutes into the movie before anything of any real excitement happens. It's pretty much 45 minutes of Janet Leigh driving in a car and stressing out over something stupid she did.
I did however find Norman bates to be a fascinating and sympathetic character. I should take a moment to clarify that I referring to the characters from movies, not the book by Robert Bloch. Norman Bates in the book was vastly different than in the film. What I enjoyed the most about the Psycho II was that we get to know Norman. We begin to care about him and even root for him as he struggles to keep his sanity. Anthony Perkins' portrayal of Norman Bates in Psycho II was brilliant. Norman Bates was a psychotic killer and Anthony Perkins makes us really root for Norman Bates as he struggles with his sanity. Throughout the movie he's pushed further and further into a psychotic abyss. You can see and feel him fighting and grasping at anything to hold on to in order to maintain his sanity.
I first saw Psycho II as part of double feature on a date when I was 13 or maybe I had just turned 14. The first movie was Twilight Zone: The Movie and I have to admit that I was more excited to see it than Psycho II. As I have said already, Psycho wasn't my favorite movie but I was a huge Twilight Zone fan. I mean who doesn't love the Twilight Zone!? Yet, from the moment Psycho II fades into color and that wonder score by Jerry Goldsmith begins, I was sold! But, being so young, I couldn't appreciate the actors as I can now. Robert Loggia as Dr. Bill Raymond. What an amazing actor he was. Vera Miles returning as Lila Loomis. Meg Tilly as Mary Loomis. Dennis Franz as the creep hotel manager Warren Toomey. For me it was the first time really noticing these actors and all of them and though I was too young to really appreciate great acting, they were part of the reason I loved this movie.
I would see all these actors in other movies. Robert Loggia was in so many other great films and was a star long before Psycho II came to be. He even worked with Hitchcock on The Alfred Hitchcock Hour He was in everything from great TV shows like Gunsmoke , Untouchables , Magnum PI and Fantasy Island to name few and his list of movie credits, like Big with Tom Hanks and Independence Day with another all-star cast. Sadly he passed away in 2015. And, as I reflect back on Psycho II I am reminded that we have lost a lot of the cast. We lost Anthony Perkins in 1992. Hugh Gillin left us in 2004, he played Sheriff John Hunt, great character actor. Claudia Bryar who played Mrs. Emma Spool past in 2011 at the age of 83. All the amazing work done by these actors and I will always remember them from their roles in Psycho II. I believed Dr. Raymond really cared for Norman Bates. I believed Hugh Gillin was the firm but fair Sheriff. All of them will be missed.
Hard to believe that at the root of Psycho II would be love story between a young women and former schizophrenic serial killer but that's just another thing making this film stand out from the rest in the series. Though neither of them get to really explore the feelings they have for each other, they do begin to fall in love in many ways. I loved that about this movie. I believed it. We begin to fall for Mary along with Norman because she's appears so sweet and vulnerable. Later as she begins to stand up for Norman we love her even more. Even when we learn the real reason she came into Norman's life, we continue to lover because we know that she's trying to redeem herself. There's Romeo & Juliette type of love here and as we watch it all unfold, we hope for the best but know deep down they were probably doomed from the start.
How great was Dennis Franz in this!? I mean from the moment we meet Mr. Toomey we know he's sleazy. Think about it, after knowing him for all of about a minute he makes Norman Bates look like Motel Manager of the Year. He didn't play the character over the top. He made perfect sense for the story and in this scene we get to see Norman handle conflict. He handles it better than most people do and it's this kind of acting and story that helps set Psycho II apart from the rest.
Many will always see Dennis Franz as Andy Sipowicz from NYPD Blue. One of my all time favorite shows. I saw every season of that show but I will never forget him as the sleazy motel manager in Psycho II. I don't know why he hasn't done anything since NYPD Blue. He has such a great face and voice. I hope he is doing well and hope to see him acting again soon.
I think the first crush I have ever really had on a movie start was Brooke Shields when I was 10 years old. Then I saw The Blue Lagoon. After that my love for her was near stalker level. I don't think I had another real serious movie crush until I saw Jill Carroll as Kim in Psycho II. I was so jealous of this guy. I was right at that age where my every other thought was about sex. Actually, now that I think about it, not much has changed. Anyways, from the moment I saw her on screen I was in love. I did have a crush on Meg Tilly as well but that was different. There was just something about Jill. She seemed real in that I was at the age where I was starting to date, I was on a date. This seen made me realize things about myself. Jill Carrol for me, became the first image of a what I wanted in a girlfriend. I watched this movie again before making this site and I smiled when this scene came up. I had forgotten how every girl I ever dated in some ways had to live up to my early teen imagination of what Jill Carrol's character Kim was like.
Looking back there was something hot but innocent about this scene. It wasn't a full on, boobs flying everywhere, sex scene. It didn't distract from the story, it added to it. There was nothing gratuitous about it. It moved the story along in a big way because we later see Mary protect Norman for the first time when she lies to the Sheriff by giving Norman an alibi.
She was evil and as I watched this movie again, damn she was hot. She's got that whole Helen Mirren thing going. I remember thinking at the time I first saw this how her hate for Norman Bates ruined her life. long before Norman gets released from the psych ward. Her life ended when her sisters ended in that shower decades ago. Sure she was alive but she obviously didn't do much living. Or, maybe Lila did and she didn't go off the deep end until she became aware that Norman was going to be released. in any case I could understand her hatred for Norman. It's what makes the whole story behind Psycho II so believable. It all makes perfect sense. The makers of this film weren't "reaching" for anything here. Of course Vira Miles character Lila Loomis would be angry that Norman was being released. She probably did everything to make sure he would never be released. So it makes perfect sense that she her self could go a little nuts when learning Norman Bates would be a free man once again. It's just great story telling.
Sheriff John Hunt played realistically by the late Hugh Gillin was such a relief in this movie. How many times do we see the police in horror movies as total assholes. Literally they are all either complete douchebags or complete idiots to comedic levels. Not here. This sheriff maybe isn't the smartest guy but he's no dummy and very, very wise. He doesn't bully Norman at all. One would expect him to because in every other horror movie, the cops would be bullies. Sheriff Hunt knows something bad is happening but he doesn't jump to a single conclusion and that was so refreshing to see. Not so much then because hey, I was just a kid. But watching it again after years and years, his character should be a role model on hot to write for cops in horror movies.
And, as much as I love this scene, it's made even better when you realize that the handsome deputy by the sheriff's side is none other than Tom Holland. He wrote this sequel and he did a great, great job.
The very talented, cute, beautiful and innocent looking Meg Tilly stars along side Anthony Perkins' Norman Bates in Psycho II and what an outstanding job she did. Her Mary Loomis plays opposite Norman to perfection. From the very beginning we can tell she 's troubled. She probably sees, in some ways, a kindred spirit in Norman. It becomes obvious that she is truly beginning to care for him. I'm sure she was going through all kinds of emotions after getting to know him. In some respects she may see him as a father figure and lover. Meg Tilly plays every emotion in this. From rage to heartbreak and back again. Part protector of Norman and part destroyer. Every aspect of her character is completely believable.
Is Norman bates going crazy or is it something else. His struggles with his sanity is so compelling. They are yet another reason why I love Psycho II so much. I love it even more being all grown up because on a lessor scale I can relate. Not to being a schizophrenic with murderous mommy issues but as someone that has made a great deal of mistakes in his past. I know what it's like to fight the demons that can haunt us. Seeing Norman loosing this battle was heartbreaking. Also, seeing Mother's room in full color was amazing. Also, the imprint on the bed was a really nice touch.
I've so been there before. When the world is falling part and you just feel powerless to do anything about it. It just seems that no matter what you do, you only make things worse. If only Norman had some time on the outside before events were put into place to unravel his state of mind. If only his relationship with Mary had more time to grow. So many what ifs and maybes.
Okay, I can't really believe I just used the term "Bae" but I really couldn't help it. Things are really starting to downward spiral and it's a shame that Norman is too emotionally underdeveloped to understand that his greatest asset is right behind him. Having spent the first part of his life controlled by his mother in every way and the second half in a mental institution he's never known a healthy relationship. Though I guess you can't say what Mary and Norman have is normal. But, I believe there was real love there or at least some semblance of it and Norman just didn't have time enough understand that.
It's really at this point that Mary should have found a way to get out. I really wanted to it work but when your roommate who is a confessed schizophrenic killer threatens you with a knife, it's time to go. Though that's what our brains may tell us, sometimes it's not what our hearts want. Mary doesn't leave. She's still there for Norman. Probably out of love and healthy dose of guilt. It really is a fascinating fall into insanity. We think we know what's going on but do we?
Moments after we think Mary should have left we come to this scene. It's the best scene in the movie. Anthony Perkins and Meg Tilly give real emotional performances here and if you don't at least have a little bit of sympathy for Norman Bates after this scene then you've got one cold dead heart. The dialog is Oscar worthy.
Mary: Just remember the good things she did for you. The good things.
Norman: I can't. they'e not there any more. The doctors took them all away, along with everything else...
Dr. Raymond believes that seeing is believing. What he doesn't know is, and what we don't know is, that this isn't helping because those mysterious calls are starting to make more sense to him now. But, this scene plays out for us as a powerful reality check for Norman. His first reaction to the opening of his mother's casket is what we expect but with a touch of "Uh-oh!"
I think the subtle or maybe not so subtle wardrobe change forewarns us that Norman is almost back to ground zero in the mommy issues department. Mary sees it but still she tries to be there for Norman. Again, we hope there is light at the end of this tunnel for them. The suspense between them has been building like crazy. Wanting so bad for Norman to beat his demons both real and imagined. Mary, knowing she's fighting a losing battle but is either in denial about it or now just simply cares too much for Norman to leave his side.
The Doctor fought the good fight and we know the good doctor's death was just an accident but it's all too much for Norman, Norman's gone bye-bye now. Now the events that are about to unfold become more and more tragic for both. Norman begins to find clarity in his insanity and Mary soon discovers that she's lost the battle for Norman's heart and soul.
It's also time that I mention the amazing score in Psycho II. Once again, Jerry Goldsmith delivers brilliance. The emotional content of the main theme is so packed with hope and heartbreak. I just found a YouTube video I am going to link to below so you can listen if you choose. it's got the whole score as well as some of the notes from Jerry Goldsmith made in putting together this wonderful music.
Now on the defensive Mary tries hard to make her case to Norman and is failing. It would appear that it's too late for the both of them. I still couldn't help but hope that somehow Mary could get through to him. That somehow she could get him to see the light. But, as she inadvertently makes her way into the wine cellar another truth is revealed. Unfortunately the conclusion drawn from that truth by Mary, as well as the audience, is tragically wrong. I won't go into detail because in the rare case you haven't seen this yet, I don't want to ruin it any more than I may have already.
So much to love about Psycho II. The direction from Richard Franklin is perfect. There's a simple beauty to it all. Sadly he passed away in 2007. But not before giving us such greats as Cloak & Dagger , Road Games, Patrick and more. There is more to this movie than just a psychological thriller. In my opinion the horror and the suspense take backseat to the story of Norman and Mary. I spent the whole movie rooting for them knowing it would probably not workout and yet, I never gave up on them.
The video starts out with the original theme but at 59 seconds it blends beautifully into Jerry Goldsmith's score.
If you haven't seen Psycho II or any of the other films why not pick them up today? I recommend the Blu-Rays for all their extra 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
Original Theatrical Trailer
Stream it on Amazon Prime Right Now!
Psycho, Psycho 2, Psycho 3, Psycho 4 & Psycho (1998)
Alternative Footage, Biographies, Box Set, Cast/Crew Interview(s), Commentary, Deleted Scenes, Documentary, Featurette, Interactive Menu, Multi-DVD Set, Photo Gallery, Production Notes, Scene Access, Trailer(s)
Please keep in mind that this is the trailer made for TV so it's not widescreen like the DVD & Blu-Rays. Also the quality is of this trailer hasn't been remastered.