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STUDIO: SHOUT! FACTORY
RATED: Not Rated
RUNNING TIME: 87 minutes
• Extended and Deleted Scenes
• Full Panel Discussion with Anthony Perkins
• The Psycho reunion Panel
• A Tour of the Bates Motel
• Revisiting Psycho II
• Shooting Psycho II
• A Visit with Psycho Memorabilia Collector Guy Thorpe
• Psycho on the Web
• The Hyaena Gallery Presents Serial Killer Inspired Art
Everyone loves Psycho, but the sequels are largely ignored. It’s time to give them their due.
Interviewees: Anthony Perkins, Robert Loggia, Olivia Hussey, Mick Garris, Tom Holland, Jeff Fahey, Henry Thomas
Directed by Robert V. Galluzzo
you love the Psycho sequels, you will love this disc and all its
goodies. If you’re not, you’ll only focus on the terrible production
quality and should go watch something else.
Perkins’ career as a country singer was short lived, because Mother killed it.
This week two Psycho-related releases hit shelves. Every cinema fan should love Psycho, a film that forever changed the horror genre, and film making in general, and should have their copy of that film lovingly presented in high definition on blu-ray. But also released was The Psycho Legacy, a low budget documentary that delves into the ins and outs of all four Psycho films. The focus, as with the films themselves, is on Norman Bates, A.K.A. Anthony Perkins, the thread that ties the films together.
If you’re looking for a behind the scenes of the first film, look to the Psycho blu-ray. This film, as specified by the title, focuses of the legacy that film left. So delving into the production of Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece is minimal. If you want to know more on that subject, also check out the wonderful book Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho by Stephen Rebello (available on amazon here). Hitchcock appears here only in clips from the Psycho trailer (a trailer that rivals the film in brilliance), and Janet Leigh pops in once in an archival interview to point out that from 1961 on she only took baths. Anthony Perkins is the only member of the original cast who actually has some screen time, albeit from a low quality VHS recording shot at a convention appearance in the 80’s. But he does add some amusing and key anecdotes related to the films.
Hitchcock pointed to center field, and with one mighty swing, trashed the entire set with a baseball bat.
What The Psycho Legacy does focus on regarding the first film is the impact it had. Many interviewees recall the first time they saw the film, and how it changed them as film makers and film enthusiasts. They debate the legends surrounding the film, including “no actual piercing in the shower scene” and Hitchcock as a director who considered the film all but finished after storyboarding. Also amazing is the fact that people would sit through the entire film (a first for its time) and that audiences at large didn’t spoil the twist for their friends and neighbors (compare that to a recent film like Catfish, which was spoiled on national television).
In discussing the sequels from 1983, ’86 and ’90, respectively, The Psycho Legacy covers just about all the bases. Anyone who has ever wanted a behind the scenes of these mostly forgotten films will get their fix here. Writers, Producers, Actors and more have all been gathered to add insight into a variety of topics, and each film is given approximately a 20 minute chunk of time to explore them. Regarding Psycho II, we learn what it took to put a sequel to one of the best films of all time into production twenty years later. Writer Tom Holland is especially informative, discussing how he meticulously worked on trying to extend the story of the first film, and pay tribute without being too referential. We also get, as with each film, a dissection of the variety of kills.
The sequel’s success brought about Psycho III, which Perkins directed. A number of the cast and crew throw in their two cents on what it was like working under the man who was Norman Bates, and depending who you ask he was either a loving and dedicated director or a selfish madman. In the brief clip shown of Perkins, he comes off as someone who tried his damndest to live up to Hitchcock but ultimately saw himself as a failure. Psycho IV was seemingly done reluctantly on Perkins’ part, and who could blame him considering he was being pushed out of the role of Norman in favor of a younger actor.
“But before E.T. left, he granted Steven and I the power of beard, for which I will always be grateful.”
It is an odd thing seeing a Psycho film, which influenced so many then being influenced in turn by the deluge of 80’s slasher films, but that’s ultimately what came about with the sequels. Psycho’s legacy was to create many imitators, and like them or hate them, the sequels are part of that. The stories behind them are mostly interesting, but a lack of certain key people is noticeable. Additionally, while the premise is interesting, the execution is low budget and subpar.
The aspect ratio changes constantly during the course of the film, and the sound and visuals are often varying from good to terrible. No one doubts the passion of the filmmakers, but couldn’t they mic an interview properly, not have a backlit interview, or tell people to sit up? The ample use of CGI is cheesy, and across the board there are questionable production choices that make it feel like a film school project with access to all involved. Still, the quality of production won’t hold back fans from seeking out the stories therein.
“I’m Jeff Fahey’s chest hair, and I approved this message.”
The Psycho Legacy is a packed set, befitting the superfan effort that went into the film itself. The bonuses are spread over two discs, with extended and deleted scenes on Disc One and the many featurettes on Disc Two. The extended and deleted sequences contain more details about the minutiae of production, including Jeff Fahey reminiscing about being naked with lamps on his crotch in Psycho III.
The full panel discussion with Anthony Perkins is the complete tape of his convention appearance, and while he is good at engaging the audience, the video quality becomes tiresome and you cannot hear the questions being asked because there was no microphone in the audience. The Tour of the Bates Motel was a promotional video made for The Psycho Legacy website that consists of a brief walk through the backlot set at Universal Studios. The Psycho Reunion Panel is just audio with some repeated stills, and “Revisiting” and “Shooting” Psycho II are just more sit downs with Tom Holland going through memorabilia, and an extended chat with cinematographer Dean Cudney, respectively.
John Hughes’ Psycho in Red.
Psycho collector Guy Thorpe is a fellow many readers here at CHUD can relate with, where his home is adorned with posters and items from horror films. He has in his possession a lifesize wax Anthony Perkins and a “Mother” that was used in Psycho II. Similarly, another superfan is spotlighted in Psycho on the Web, which is an extended history of the website ThePsychoMovies.com. “The Hyaena Gallery…” featurette talks with artists who do paintings inspired by serial killers, which is only tangentially connected to this documentary.
Disc Two sounds better on paper than it actually is, sadly. While there is a worthy amount of extras, few of them are particularly fascinating, and I can’t say I would revisit them any time soon. The same production woes that plague the main feature spread into the bonus features, including inconsistent audio and aspect ratios. But points have to be awarded for trying, at least.
Film: 7.4 out of 10
Extras: 6.6 out of 10
Overall: 7 out of 10
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