HORROR FRIDAYS – ‘Psycho II’ & ‘Psycho III’

I take a look at two of the sequels to 1960's 'Psycho'!

Reviews by J.T. Johnson

I have seen Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” probably more times than I can count. It is a stellar piece of thrilling entertainment that has inspired countless thrillers and horror films ever since. I’ve also known for a long time that there were sequels to the film, but I never thought to watch them until now.

I covered “Psycho” awhile back on Sunday Classics, but now I want to take a look at the two theatrically released sequels. In this review, I’m taking a look at both “Psycho II” and “Psycho III”, but I am going to skip over the made-for-TV movie, “Psycho IV: The Beginning”. Unlike the first films, though, these sequels take a more direct look at Norman Bates, the troubled owner of the Bates Motel.

PSYCHO II (1983) – SEE IT!

In this sequel, it’s been 22 years since Norman (Anthony Perkins) committed his crimes and was sent to the hospital having been declared not guilty by reason of insanity. After he is released, he returns to his home and the Bates Hotel. He befriends a young woman named Mary (Meg Tilly) and at first, things seem to be okay for Norman.

Soon, though, he starts receiving telephone calls from “mother” and begins to think that he is going crazy again. Strange things start to happen and for awhile, we don’t know if it’s truly Norman losing his mind again or some other sinister plot. It is known that Lila Loomis (Vera Miles) does want revenge against Norman and what better way to do that than to get him institutionalized.

I’ll be honest, I went into this sequel not thinking it was going to be much. However, I was surprised to find that this is actually a pretty well thought out sequel. For most of the film, you really don’t know whether or not it’s someone terrorizing Norman or if Norman is just getting ready to lose his sanity again.

This is helped by Perkins giving yet another stellar performance. He plays Norman as a the very troubled man that he is. However, he also gives you just enough of a menacing edge that you also doubt his sanity as well.

My only real problem with this film is that they pretty much make Lila a straight up villain with little to no sympathy. It would have been more interesting if she had been more sympathetic but the filmmakers use her as nothing more than a red herring, instead.

Also, the final act of the film is weaker than the rest of the film when things are finally revealed. It felt to me as though they didn’t quite know how to end the movie. Thankfully, though, the ending is pretty solid and the film overall is an enjoyable experience. No sequel could have been as good as the original film, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that this movie is a solid follow-up to Hitchcock’s “Psycho”.

PSYCHO III (1986) – SKIP IT

Universal Studios got away with making a sequel that actually managed to be a pretty decent effort to follow-up Hitchcock’s classic. Unfortunately, this third film in the series is a confusing mess of a slasher flick. There’s a troubled nun that reminds Norman of Marion Crane and Jeff Fahey plays a douchebag.

The big problem is that there aren’t too many characters to care about in this movie and that includes Norman. Perkins does a fine job with the performance as he did in the first two films, but since he’s now the monster again after snapping at the end of the second film, you need characters that you want to see. Sadly, there are none here.

While I can definitely recommend “Psycho II”, there’s not much to offer in this film that is a pretty generic slasher and a far cry from the original classic. You can definitely skip this one.

That covers the theatrical sequels to the original “Psycho”. I might one day take a look at “Psycho IV” just to say that I saw it, but in the meantime, I think I’ll just stick to the first two films in the series.

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