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Friday, October 11, 2013

'Psycho II' BD: Great Hybrid of Classics 'Psycho' and 'Gaslight'


Shout Factory's recent DVD and Blu-ray releases of 1983's "Psycho II" and 1986's "Psycho III" appropriately roughly coincided with the HBO premiere of last year's "Hitchcock," which provided a candid behind-the-scenes look at 1960's "Psycho." On a similar note, the big-screen premiere of "Psycho II" followed big-screen releases of remastered versions of other Hitchcock classics that included "Rear Window" and "Vertigo."

Housekeeping note number one is that Shout's October "The Price is Fright" sale that consists of a series of one-day markdowns of horror titles in its extensive and eclectic catalog MAY get around to these "Psycho" titles. Housekeeping note number two is that Unreal TV is going to review the Blu-ray release of "Psycho III" within two weeks.

Before discussing the many fine qualities of "Psycho II," it is worthy noting that the Blu-ray technology enhances this film, which pre-dates the era of high-definition, surprisingly well. It easily passes the "no glasses" test.

The following standard-definition clip, courtesy of YouTube, of the trailer for "Psycho II" also illustrates the intense enhancements in the Blu-ray version. This trailer also does a great job of providing a sense of the film without including any spoilers.

"Psycho II" provides cinephiles a very special treat by opening with the uber-classic shower scene from "Psycho." This is particularly awesome after obtaining additional insight regarding this segment from "Hitchcock." One note that "Hitchcock" omits is that the blood going down the drain is really chocolate syrup.

The story soon advances 22 years to a court proceeding that leads to releasing textbook "momma's boy" Norman Bates from the mental institution where he has been held since the incidents around which "Psycho" is centered. Getting our first glimpses of Anthony Perkins in that role and Vera Miles as murder victim Marion Crane's sister Lila Loomis, nee Crane, in her "Psycho" role is very exciting.

Lila's ongoing campaign to get Norman recommitted, a sleazy motel manager, expertly played by "NYPD Blue's" Dennis Franz, and various very creepy incidents that indicate that the past is repeating itself all hinder Norman's efforts to lead a normal life and maintain his mental health.

Unlike the hosts of "Mystery Science Theater 3000," Norman does not have "robot friends" to help him maintain his sanity. He does have Mary, played by Meg Tilly, a waitress whom he befriends and offers shelter soon after moving back into his famous house on the hill. In true horror film style, Mary is not what she appears to be on a few levels.

Like Hitchcock does in "Psycho," "Psycho II" director Richard Franklin largely relies on the unseen and unheard to create suspense. Even after some highly significant reveals, Franklin does an excellent job keeping the audience guessing.

One particularly memorable scene comes very close to literally dredging up the past. Further, the last few minutes of the film can be considered either the mother of all endings or the ending of all mothers.

The very special special features include great interviews with Perkins, Miles, and Franklin, and the film's trailer.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding any "Psycho" films is welcome to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy. Please be advised that my mother carefully monitors my communications with readers and gets upset when she considers them inappropriate. I now must go make her some tea.