FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE...beware yon spoilers!

Mar 1, 2012

once more unto the shower

Wonder with me for a moment, if you will, if Alfred Hitchcock's classic Psycho (1960) had remained a film untouched by Sequel Fever until today. What if, when you logged in to Facebook, your feed was full of you horror-loving cyber-friends talking about a newly-announced Psycho II and linking to stories on all the genre news websites? What if the book had only come out last year? For the sake of this exercise, I'm making like the cast would be the same as is was in 1983, when Psycho II came out...or, at least Anthony Perkins would be reprising his role as Norman.

Look, there's really no deep thought at work here. I'm just wondering how much Internet Outrage there would be...because I get the feeling that horror fans would be incensed. I'm sure I would have chimed in with a WHAT PSYCHO DOESN'T NEED A SEQUEL, or something equally erudite and meaningful.

Because really, Psycho II doesn't need to exist, and it certainly shouldn't be good. And yet, it manages to do both of those things. This is some Ripley's Believe It or Not shit!


Norman Bates (Perkins) is released from an institution 22 years after the events of Psycho. He heads home (bad idea #1) and tries to make a go at a normal life- working in a diner, not killing people, etc. He becomes friends with Mary (Meg Tilly), a waitress at the diner, and invites her into Stately Bates Manor (bad idea #2) when a bad breakup leaves her homeless. Before you can say "bad idea #3", Norman is running Bates Motel again and receiving phone calls and notes from dear old mom. And someone who looks just like dear old mom is spotted throughout the house- is she not really dead? Is Norman up to his old shenanigans?

You'll honestly be wondering what's what in Psycho II right up until...mmm, about 5 seconds before the credits roll, and I don't mean in a confused sort of way. Everything here makes sense- it's just, you see, there is mystery afoot.


Psycho II is the last thing you'd expect: it's super enjoyable. Watching poor Norman struggle to keep it together, waiting for him to pick up where he left off 22 years earlier...it's a delight, oscillating between fear of Norman and fear for Norman.

The violence, when it comes, is fast, brutal, and shocking. Psycho II opens by presenting Hitchcock's shower scene in full (wait, not his shower scene...that would be...eh, you know what I mean), and man, watching it last night...I mean, it's perhaps the most famous scene in horror film history. Everyone has seen it a billion times. Everyone has aped it, miming the stabbing motions and butchering Herrmann's famous score. It's sort of taken for granted how amazing that scene is, but last night it sort of butchered my face and I re-realized just how horrifying it is. I know, duh. But it was some rare touched for the very first time kind of nonsense and it was great. I am just saying.


So listen up, folks- including you, self- the next time there's some announcement and you take to your keyboard or teletype and you start with the WHAT A SEQUEL THAT IS A TERRIBLE IDEA! AN OUTRAGE- THIS IS ONE!, just keep telling yourself: but Psycho II was good...but Psycho II was good...but Psycho II was good...

And I didn't even get into the Meg Tilly-ness of it all!

16 comments:

Richard Harland Smith said...

In my secret garden, there are no sequels to Psycho. You see, IT NEVER HAPPENED!

Stacie Ponder said...

Oh god...whose hand was I holding??

DB said...

PII certainly does have enough about it to pull you in to watching the whole thing unlike the further sequels
for all that it was so innovative, not so sure the shower scene retains much if any of its visceral qualities - every time i screen it now to students they laugh!

DB said...

if you're moderating comments, why have the increasingly foul word verification still on btw?
very enjoyable blog, above moan notwithstanding

Stacie Ponder said...

"if you're moderating comments, why have the increasingly foul word verification still on btw?"

Because I get lots of trolls and spambots alike. The verification takes care of at least 90% of the spam, but 0% of the trolls. I try to minimize my pain as much as possible. :)

John Weddell said...

I'd rather a sequel than a remake!

Stacie Ponder said...

You got that right!

Dave Enkosky said...

Wow, I had no idea. I never bothered with Psycho II cause I just assumed, ah sequel bad, me no like. I'm definitely gonna check it out now.

Fred [The Wolf] said...

I love this film. It shouldn't exist, but I'm glad it does. It'll never be as good as the original. But as its own film, it's definitely worthy. Great review! :)

Girl on Gore said...

Im usually hesitant about sequels, but who isn't. If Anthony Perkins revises his role in it, it must be good. I am definitely going to watch it. Thanks

|Black Planet| said...

Yeah remember watching this as a young 'un in the cinema and being kinda freaked out. Better than you expect and well worth giving a chance.

Smogo said...

It's a very respectful sequel, perhaps a little boring because of that though. I much prefer the full-on 80s slasher madness of Psycho III.

Sam said...

Not only is Psycho II good, but Psycho III isn't half-bad, either. Neither sequel can live up to the original's classic status, but they actual try to, which is more than many sequels do.

Ryan Clark said...

I adore Psycho II! I think it's almost as good as the original. Psycho III is similarly excellent, though a bit more sleazy.

The Movie Waffler said...

Richard Franklin was so under-rated. I recommend Road Games (Rear Window in a truck), Patrick (Carrie in a coma), and Link (Monkey Shines in a cliff house).

docvoltage said...

Whenever I hear "sequel" I hope for "Aliens".

Better yet: "Bride of Frankenstein" (best sequel...ever).

Which got me thinking...What if Hitchcock himself had made PSYCHO 2 ?

He didn't make sequels, but he did remake his own films, albeit rarely.

Random thought: what if Hitchcock had directed HIGH NOON ?