According to Quentin Tarantino, this is the Psycho sequel that’s better than Psycho. Now, I don’t quite agree with that sentiment, but I am of the opinion that Psycho II is one of the best horror movies -if not the best horror movie sequel - ever made. (Not that there’s a whole lot of competition in this category.Halloween: H20 is okay, I guess. A Nightmare On Elm Street III: Dream Warriors is solid. Evil Dead 2 is awesome, of course, and Phantasm 2 ain’t so bad, either. Am I missing anything?)
Set twenty-two years after the first film, Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) has just been released from the mental institution and appears to be, for all intents and purposes, reasonably mentally healthy. Enter the sister and niece of the dearly departed Marion Crane, played by Janet Leigh in the first film, who absolutely won’t believe that Norman has been rehabilitated and are hellbent on proving it.
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock enthusiast Richard Franklin, who previously made the best Rear Window/Hitchcock-homage ever, Road Games, Psycho II is original, creative, thrilling, terrifying, well-written, well-acted, and most of all, shocking to the extreme. I’m not going to give away the ending, but rest assured, it took me by total surprise when I saw it about ten years ago. It’s one of the most bittersweet, but awesome, film endings I’ve ever seen. Nobody messes with the granddaddy of slasher horror, Norman Bates.