31 Days of Hell: Welcome Home, Norman - Psycho II (1983) - Reviewed

After 22 years of psychological care, Norman Bates returns home for another round of killings. Does mother return to kill or is there something else mysterious going on at the Bates Motel this time around? Can Norman assimilate to everyday life and work a regular job at the local diner or will he slide into madness? With both Anthony Perkins and Vera Miles returning to their iconic roles, Psycho II was an unexpected part two that did exactly what it came to do. It brought Norman back to world of film with a perfected vision of a man haunted by his blood soaked past. 

Perhaps one of the greatest sequels ever made, director and Hitchcock student Richard Franklin expedites the Bates story into the '80s with cautious style, directorial prowess, and a keen eye that definitely calls back to the Hitchcock classic. Shot through an intelligent lens that transports Norman to a more modern era, the stage is set for him to take up his favorite hobby once again. No one is safe in Psycho II. And no toasted cheese sandwich shall remain uneaten. Unlike so many modern continuations, this one gets it right. Perkins doesn't miss the mark in the slightest. And the plot follows many of the same beats as the original. Using a similar pacing and structure, this utilizes what we already know about Norman, then gives us even more fat to chew on. 

For all intents and purposes, this part two does exactly what a sequel should. It captures the essence of a classic story and builds upon its foundation by further expanding the mythology with great writing that fits like a proper fitting puzzle piece in the entire saga. Shying away from being too '80s in its slasher presentation, this entry in the Psycho tale is probably the second best out of the four feature films. While it definitely bears some of the markers of Reagan era slasher flicks, it still remains true to its legacy. The gore is definitely more explicit this time around, but it's not overused or exploitative. It doesn't go overboard, knowing to stay within the bounds of what Mr. Hitchcock would have done if he had personally made the movie.

With Psycho II, Anthony Perkins does his best to recreate the exact same persona he had in the 1960 feature. His boyish wit and awkward charm transcend the horrific nature of the feature, amplifying Norman's intensity as he quickly finds himself slipping back to his old ways. 
Almost immediately the cracks in his emotional state begin to show. If anything, Perkins had these characteristics nailed. He was a master at creating roles that were often off the rocker and totally unhinged during narrative structures that fed his giant sized set of talents. For another impression of this skill set make sure to check out his portrayal in the 1989 sleazy retelling of Jekyll and Hyde, Edge of Sanity. It's another role that echoed his years as Norman Bates but took them to the level of perversity. 

Despite a Psycho II novel that was written by originator Robert Bloch, the movie was  unrelated to his writing and uses a completely original script. Going on to gross $34 million at the box office, Norman Bates would see two more feature films that would star Perkins as the cross dressing killer. Although, we enjoy all the movies, this one fits seamlessly with Psycho, giving Norman room to grow and advance as a character. Other directors or creators should take note. Psycho II is the way sequels need to be done. Instead of using them as constant cash cows with no real story, this is a tasteful addition that could have easily been the finale for the series. 

We miss you, Tony Perkins. 

-Chris George