The shot-for-shot “Psycho” remake remains one of the more foolhardy efforts in Hollywood lore.
Making a sequel to Alfred Hitchcock’s iconic 1960 film ranked as a close second, at least at first blush.
Hitchcock passed away in 1980, and had he wanted to extend the story of Norman Bates he could have done so during the last two decades of his life. Instead, the task fell to screenwriter Tom Holland (future “Fright Night” creator) and director Richard Franklin, best known at the time for “Roadgames.”
Together, they did more than prove naysayers wrong. They created a smart horror sequel that didn’t besmirch the original’s legacy.
Anthony Perkins returns as Norman, recently sprung from a mental institution following the murders from the first film. He’s desperate to resume a “normal” life, and he quickly finds work at a local diner.
His past continually haunts him, from the murmurs heard in his old neighborhood to a new friend (Meg Tilly) who stirs something inside his damaged mind. Plus, Vera Miles plays the sister of the woman Norman infamously killed in the show, and she wants him put away for good.
There’s nothing here comparable to the original’s shower sequence, but “Psycho II” is both sturdy and worthy of its franchise heritage.
Perkins remains a prickly presence as Norman, a man pining to outrun his demons but unable to escape Mother’s gargantuan shadow. Ironically, the actor almost passed on revisiting his most famous role.
That convinced the production to consider Christopher Walken as his replacement. Holland’s script purportedly lured Perkins back to the fold, and he ended up shooting two more sequels following the success of the 1983 film.
The sequel hasn’t enjoyed the legacy of the source material, but Holland recalled some sizable praise from two horror icons.
Both James Wan (“Insidious,” “Saw”) and Bret Easton Ellis (“American Psycho”) dubbed “Psycho II” the best horror sequel of all time, according to Holland.
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