“People don’t change”…or do they? Psycho II explores that theme deliciously, a la David Cronenberg’s A History of Violence, bridging Hitch’s 60s Norman Bates with the sleazy 80s and managing to do justice to The Master of Suspense in the process.
And with decades in between this incarnation and the inestimable, explosive original, odds were severely stacked against this one (especially in a horror world littered with abominable Part 2s which undermined classic originals, think Howling II: Your Sister Is a Werewolf, Exorcist II: The Heretic, A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge).
With its recidivism rumblings, the Psycho II set up is a delight, and we’re re-introduced to Norman Bates via the criminal justice system, a terrific conceit that’s certainly timeless. Reactions to his release are understandably negative, as Norman is unleashed on the public. Luckily, there are enough “forgive and forget” types willing to give the notorious innkeeper a shot at redemption, in this case a greasy spoon owner who hires him on as kitchen help.
Unbelievably, Norman returns to his old stomping grounds, severely undermining his shot at redemption and starting up a new life. We’re no psychiatrists or parole officers, but he might’ve been better off in a completely different line of work/time zone, etc.
Psycho II is way better than it should’ve been.
For a more in-depth look at the film, check out our Psycho II episode of the Really Awful movies Podcast.
*** (out of 5)