Overall | Psycho (Blu-ray) (1960) | Psycho II (Blu-ray) (1983) | Psycho III (Blu-ray) (1986) | Psycho IV: The Beginning (Blu-ray) (1990) | Psycho (1998) (Blu-ray) | Bates Motel (1987) | The Psycho Legacy (2010)

Psycho: The Complete Collection (Blu-ray)

Psycho: The Complete Collection (Blu-ray)

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Released 2-Dec-2015

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Overall Package

††† Via Vision have put together an incredible collection here, one that any die-hard Psycho fan will go gaga over. It will no doubt accrue a fair amount of international interest due to the presence of Psycho IV: The Beginning and the Psycho remake on Blu-ray for the first time ever, so rest assured that all the five Blu-ray discs as well as the three DVDs are all proudly region free.

††† Even though opinions on the Psycho sequels are mixed, and even though practically everybody hates the remake, this is the definitive Psycho home video collection. Yes, it would be nice if the sequels and the remake received better video remastering efforts, and yes it's disappointing that Bates Motel and The Psycho Legacy look so shonky on DVD, but it's hard to feel too downtrodden about the set's shortcomings considering its limitless strengths.

††† The inclusion of The Psycho Legacy discs compensate for the lack of extras for the Psycho sequels, with the documentary itself and the wealth of extras serving as the definitive supplemental collection for the franchise. The asking price may be a bit steep, but it's worth every cent. Across the set's eight discs, all the extras you could ever want are here.

††† Psycho: The Complete Collection earns my highest recommendation.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Wednesday, December 23, 2015
Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Psycho (Blu-ray) (1960) | Psycho II (Blu-ray) (1983) | Psycho III (Blu-ray) (1986) | Psycho IV: The Beginning (Blu-ray) (1990) | Psycho (1998) (Blu-ray) | Bates Motel (1987) | The Psycho Legacy (2010)

Psycho (Blu-ray) (1960)

Psycho (Blu-ray) (1960)

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Released 2-Dec-2015

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Featurette-Making Of-The Making of Psycho
Featurette-In the Master's Shadow: Hitchcock's Legacy
Audio Bites-Hitchcock/Truffaut
Featurette-Newsreel Footage: The Release of Psycho
Additional Footage-The Shower Scene: With & Without Music
Storyboards-Shower Scene
Featurette-Psycho Sound
Gallery
Theatrical Trailer
Additional Footage-Alfred Hitchcock Presents 'Lambs to the Slaughter'
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1960
Running Time 108:51
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Alfred Hitchcock
Studio
Distributor

ViaVision
Starring Anthony Perkins
Janet Leigh
Vera Miles
John Gavin
Martin Balsam
John McIntire
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $15.95 Music Bernard Herrmann


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English DTS HD Master Audio 2.0
French Dolby Digital 2.0
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0
German Dolby Digital 2.0
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0
Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Japanese
French
Italian
German
Spanish
Dutch
Danish
Finnish
Portuguese
Chinese
Korean
Swedish
Norwegian
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

††† Itís impossible to discuss the narrative and storytelling brilliance of Alfred Hitchcockís Psycho without divulging spoilers. The movieís twists and secrets are almost common knowledge over five decades after its release, but fair warning all the same. If you have not seen Psycho and are oblivious to its surprises, stop reading this review right now and watch the movie. It is a masterpiece, and thatís all you need to know.

††† Released in 1960, Psycho has become synonymous with the late great Alfred Hitchcock, standing proudly alongside the likes of Rear Window, North By Northwest and Vertigo. An adaptation of Robert Blochís 1959 novel of the same name, Psycho was actually an attempt by Hitchcock to reinvent himself at the time and try something different. A trend had broken out in Hollywood during the 1950s, with low-risk, low-budget horrors crowding theatres and effortlessly generating a large profit. However, said movies were not often particularly good, and Hitchcock was eager to see what would happen if somebody talented helmed a comparable production. Despite being able to command lavish budgets, Hitchcock wanted to create a horror movie on the cheap with the crew of his television show Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and was even compelled to go outside the studio system to fund the movie himself. Itís a gamble that paid off, and the film still holds up today. Indeed, Psycho is not just groundbreaking, influential and oft-imitated - itís also a highly engaging, albeit disturbing horror movie.

††† A clerk in a real estate office earning an average wage, Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) is engaged in a romantic relationship with Sam Loomis (John Gavin), but they cannot get married because of Samís debts. When Marionís boss closes a lucrative real estate deal, Marion is entrusted to deposit $40,000 in cash into the bank, but the large sum of money is simply too tempting. Seeing a way out of her situation, she impulsively decides to keep it and sets off to visit Sam, but a powerful storm one night compels Marion to seek accommodation. Happening across the eerily quiet Bates Motel, which has ď12 cabins, 12 vacancies,Ē Marion meets owner Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), a shy but well-meaning young man whoís excited by the prospect of a female visitor. However, Normanís jealous mother, who lives in a creepy old house overlooking the establishment, does not take kindly to Normanís attraction to Marion...

††† Many factors can be attributed to the success of Psycho, but the creative marketing campaign most certainly helped. Indeed, Hitchcockís name alone was enough to sell plenty of tickets, but the maestro took it one step further. Cinema staff were not permitted to let patrons enter a screening after the movie had started, and advertisements encouraged audiences not to spoil any of the twists, on top of the fact that Hitchcock purchased every copy of Blochís novel he could find to limit the bookís availability and thus keep the storyís secrets under wraps. The virtuoso filmmaker truly wanted audiences to see the film with fresh, unaware eyes, which gave Psycho the power to shock, terrify and amaze in a way thatís nearly impossible to accomplish in this age of internet gossip and spoilers. Even though the movie was almost unanimously panned by critics at the time of its initial release, hundreds of people queued up outside cinemas for hours, and Hitchcockís masterpiece fast became a nationwide phenomenon, grossing an estimated $32 million in America alone against its meagre $800,000 production budget. (Adjusted for inflation, Psychoís gross is equal to approximately $350 million in 2015.)

††† Despite being one of the motion pictures most associated with Hitchcock, Psycho is something of an anomaly for the filmmaker, as itís removed from the low-key mysteries, elegant romances and grand-scale espionage thrillers that constitute the majority of his filmography. And that was, of course, Hitchcockís intention. Whatís particularly ingenious about Psycho is its narrative edifice, with Hitchcock and screenwriter Joseph Stefano creating a horror that defies expectations with utter glee. The shocking final revelation has lost none of its power, but itís also the repercussions of the iconic shower scene that stunned audiences back in 1960. Hitchcock deliberately lulls you into thinking that an entirely different story will unfold, only to pull the rug out from underneath you with the early exit of Marion Crane and the sudden shift in narrative focus. Itís all pulled off so eloquently by Hitchcock, who favours twists over out-and-out violence.

††† Despite the advancing popularity of colour film, Hitchcock deliberately chose to lens Psycho in black and white, feeling that the movie would simply be too gory in colour. The monochrome photography is a masterstroke, enhancing the movieís shocking impact and sense of horror. But itís the sense of atmosphere which really makes Psycho unforgettable, with John L. Russellís eye-catching cinematography making superlative use of shadows, creating unease during scenes set at the ominous Bates Motel. Furthermore, Hitchcock was something of a cinematic magician, with violence being implied rather than simply shown, using trick shots and montage. Especially during the shower scene, you believe youíve witnessed more than whatís actually on the screen - the knife is never actually seen penetrating skin, with creative angles, expert editing and realistic sound design prompting our minds to fill in the blanks. Itís simply superb craftsmanship, turning the scene into a cinematic masterclass that continues to be studied. But Psycho would not be as memorable as it is without Bernard Herrmannís riveting original music. The screaming strings still send a chill down the spine, with the filmís intensity and horror confidently amplified by the accompanying soundtrack.

††† Say what you will about Psychoís content in this day and age, but audiences back in 1960 were not prepared for such a disturbing motion picture. Even in 2015, the movie has bite, which is all the more impressive considering the restrictions of the period. Psycho was released before films were actually rated; in 1960, motion pictures simply had to be approved for release. Hitchcock was therefore treading on eggshells, pushing the censorship envelope to see exactly how much he could get away with as he dabbled in cinematic taboos. On top of the obvious violence, Psycho also features a toilet being flushed, denoting the first time in cinematic history that a toilet was visible in a motion picture. Furthermore, the film shows unmarried people engaging in a sexual affair, as well as voyeurism, schizophrenia and transvestism, not to mention Marion is a thief, and Janet Leigh is glimpsed in her underwear on more than one occasion. Psycho really was a breakthrough at the time.

††† Leigh earned an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of Marion Crane, which was well deserved, but Perkins was inexplicably overlooked by the Academy. Bates is one of the greatest all-time horror icons, and Perkinsí portrayal is note-perfect. In Blochís novel, Bates was a bald, middle-aged fat man, but Stefano felt that such a character would be hard to sympathise with, choosing to write the role for a younger performer. Perkins nails it, exhibiting plenty of boyish charm and coming across as hugely sympathetic. You feel sorry for Norman, whoís the furthest thing from a vindictive horror villain imaginable, and itís impossible to imagine anybody else embodying the role as skilfully as the late Perkins. The remainder of the actors hit their marks respectably, with the likes of John Gavin, Vera Miles and Martin Balsam making a good impression in their respective roles, but Psycho is Perkinsí show.

††† It took a lot of effort in post-production to truly bring Psycho to life, with Hitchcockís beloved wife Alma (a former editor) reportedly assisting in the cutting process. Even though some have complained about an extensive psychiatric explanation in the final scene, I personally have no issue with it, especially with the haunting note that the movie closes on. Slasher flicks released since Psycho may be gorier and more graphic, but Hitchcockís film remains untouchable precisely because of what the master director was able to accomplish in a stricter era of film censorship. In 2015, the movie succeeds thanks to its fine performances, nuanced characters, brilliant narrative and superlative technical presentation. It is a must-see.

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Transfer Quality

Video

††† Compared to the Hitchcock titles remastered and distributed by Warner Bros (Strangers on a Train, North by Northwest), Psycho comes up a little short. Still, this restoration effort is a thing to behold, cleaning up the image to remove print damage and create a stable, crisp HD master, framed in the movieís original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. Encoded in MPEG-4 AVC, this Blu-ray faithfully replicates Psychoís visuals, bringing out detail and nuance.

††† The only issue with this high definition image is that some noise reduction has visibly been applied, as is the case with most Universal Blu-rays. As a consequence, the image is a bit too smooth, with some shots looking rather waxy. Grain should be more prevalent; without it, some of the fine detail is lost. However, casual watchers probably wonít notice this; Universal have deviously created an image thatís stuck somewhere between DNR disaster and overly grainy, in an attempt to please both the grain haters and the videofile purists. However, I did not detect any edge enhancement, nor did I detect any encoding anomalies that the American release reportedly suffers from.

††† Now...the good news. Psycho looks amazingly clear and stable on Blu-ray, and has probably never looked this good before. The transfer beautifully handles the distinctive photography, with the image faithfully replicating the dark, inky look of the movie. The video at no point looks washed out, with plenty of darkness in the frame, and the transfer miraculously never falls victim to black crush. There is an assortment of flecks and other imperfections, but I almost prefer seeing these and they do not bother me, as it replicates the experience of watching an imperfect celluloid print.

††† Psycho looks good on Blu-ray, but a tad too smooth for my taste - it could look even better with a fresh 4K scan which retains a healthy grain structure. Perhaps the Ultra HD Blu-ray format will grant this wish.

††† A heap of subtitle options are available.


Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

††† Universal offer a number of audio options for different languages, chief among them are two English tracks: the filmís original mono track in lossless DTS-HD 2.0, and a remixed DTS-HD MA 5.1 track. The upgrade in audio afforded by a lossless encode is really obvious from the opening titles (especially contrasted against the lossy Dolby Digital options on the disc), with Herrmannís unforgettable music sounding clear and impactful.

††† The original mono track is exceptional, with dialogue coming through clearly, and with nothing in the way of bothersome crackling or popping, though there isnít much in the way of separation or surround activity. The DTS-HD MA 5.1 track, however, is better in this regard. A featurette on this Blu-ray delves into the efforts undertaken by the audio engineers to create a surround track thatís faithful to the original sound, and it pays off.

††† Stabbing, slicing and slashing sounds pack plenty of punch, and the track is professionally mixed with appropriate levels to create an immersive experience. Psycho does not compare to more recent cinematic releases, but it sounds as good as it ever will, and I was not disappointed in any way.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

††† Heaps and heaps of extras are available here. It will take a couple days for fans to chew through all the extras on offer.

The Making of Psycho (SD; 94:13)

††† A vintage piece, this documentary is simply sensational, a meaty, in-depth examination of what it took to bring Hitchcockís timeless gem to the big screen. Since it was produced in the 1990s, interview subjects include the now-deceased Janet Leigh, Hilton Green and Joseph Stefano, with input from a number of other individuals, who have plenty of stories to share. The technical presentation is admittedly dated, with 4:3 interviews and widescreen film clips that are not 16:9 enhanced, but this scarcely matters. The documentary touches upon Blochís novel, Hitchcockís initial interest, the scripting process, the filming of several key scenes, post-production, Herrmannís music, battles with the censors and the eventual release. Itís an easy-to-digest, comprehensive documentary, and itís a welcome addition to this Blu-ray.

In The Masterís Shadow: Hitchcockís Legacy (SD; 25:58)

††† An extra produced in 2008, this featurette is chock full of interviews with filmmakers who were personally inspired by Hitchcock, and who examine Hitchcockís influence on a variety of motion pictures.

Hitchcock/Truffaut (SD; 15:20)

††† An audio interview excerpt from Francois Truffautís 1962 interviews with Hitchcock (with a translator to ensure the two men can have a conversation). The discussion is smart and insightful, making this a real treat. Since this is audio-only, clips and stills from Psycho accompany the interview.

Newsreel Footage: The Release of Psycho (SD; 7:45)

††† This is a reel of news footage from 1960 which covers the release of Hitchcockís Psycho. Emphasis is placed on Hitchís strict theatre policies, and itís also fascinating to see the gargantuan line-ups outside the cinema. Worth watching.

The Shower Scene: With & Without Music (SD; 1:18)

††† Self-explanatory, really; the shower scene is available to watch here, both with and without music. You choose whichever audio option you wish. Worth watching for fans.

Shower Scene Storyboards (SD; 4:10)

††† A video slideshow of storyboards, with no music or any other aural accompaniment. I would have preferred the option to scroll through these manually, but a worthwhile inclusion nevertheless.

Psycho Sound (HD; 9:57)

††† This interesting, all-new featurette is concerned with the process of upgrading Psychoís sound mix from original mono to 5.1. A number of sound engineers chime in to talk to talk about the possibilities of the software, and how they strived to stay true to Hitchcock while giving the sound more precision and separation.

The Psycho Archives (SD; 7:48)

††† A video slideshow of production photographs. Like the storyboards, manual navigation would have been preferred, but oh well.

Posters and Psycho Ads (SD; 3:00)

††† A three-minute video slideshow of, you guessed it, posters and ads.

Lobby Cards (SD; 1:30)

††† Again, no manual navigation; a video slideshow of lobby cards from the pictureís release.

Behind the Scenes Photographs (SD; 8:00)

††† A pretty sizable collection of on-set images, with Hitchcock often seen smartly-dressed. As ever, this is a video slideshow.

Publicity Shots (SD; 8:30)

††† The last of the video slideshows, this is a collection of publicity shots.

Psycho Theatrical Trailer (SD; 6:35)

††† The iconic trailer, featuring Mr. Hitchcock taking us on a tour of the Bates Motel and the house.

Psycho Re-Release Trailers (SD; 1:50)

††† A selection of trailers from the Psycho re-release, focusing around the fact that TV did not dare air Hitchcockís original cinema edit.

Alfred Hitchcock Presents ďLambs to the SlaughterĒ (SD; 26:08)

††† Just as an added bonus, we have a half-hour episode Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Written by Roald Dahl, this is actually quite a good little short, revolving around an impromptu murder and the killer attempting to cover it up. Definitely worth watching.

Feature Commentary With Stephen Rebello, author of ďAlfred Hitchcock and the Making of PsychoĒ

††† Rebello is well-versed in Hitchcock history and knows plenty about the making of Psycho, and does his best to provide scene-specific anecdotes throughout this insightful, excellent audio commentary track. Heís an easygoing, laid-back commentator, patiently imparting pieces of trivia about the production and the actors, whilst also discussing the themes and symbolism of the movie. For fans of the movie, itís definitely worth the time investment, and itís the perfect way to top off this extensive selection of supplements.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

† † Universal's release in America lacks the Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode. A win for local.

Summary

††† Psycho endures in 2015; it's an exceedingly creepy, thrilling motion picture which continues to be analysed for its themes and subtleties. Any film enthusiast must watch this movie, and any fan will be overjoyed by this incredible Blu-ray release. Despite a so-so video presentation, the audio is outstanding and the selection of extras will not disappoint anybody. It earns my highest recommendation.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Tuesday, December 15, 2015
Review Equipment
DVDPlayStation 4, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 42LW6500. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationLG BH7520TW
SpeakersLG Tall Boy speakers, 5.1 set-up, 180W

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Overall | Psycho (Blu-ray) (1960) | Psycho II (Blu-ray) (1983) | Psycho III (Blu-ray) (1986) | Psycho IV: The Beginning (Blu-ray) (1990) | Psycho (1998) (Blu-ray) | Bates Motel (1987) | The Psycho Legacy (2010)

Psycho II (Blu-ray) (1983)

Psycho II (Blu-ray) (1983)

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Released 2-Mar-2016

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Interviews-Cast & Crew
Trailer
TV Spots
Gallery-Photo
Audio Interview-Cast
Audio Commentary-with Tom Holland
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1983
Running Time 112:45
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Richard Franklin
Studio
Distributor

ViaVision
Starring Anthony Perkins
Meg Tilly
Vera Miles
Robert Loggia
Dennis Franz
Claudia Bryar
Hugh Gillin
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $19.95 Music Jerry Goldsmith


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English DTS HD Master Audio 2.0
English Audio Commentary DTS HD Master Audio 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

††† Itís one thing to create a sequel to an unremarkable blockbuster like The Fast and the Furious, but itís something else entirely to attempt a follow-up to one of the most legendary, acclaimed movies of all time. For all intents and purposes, Alfred Hitchcockís Psycho didnít need a sequel; itís in the same league as films like Lawrence of Arabia, hence a follow-up sounds like madness, especially one released 23 years after the 1960 original. Robert Bloch, who wrote the Psycho novel on which Hitchcockís film is based, actually penned his own sequel novel in 1982, prompting Universal to pursue their own follow-up. Psycho II was apparently planned to be a television movie with Christopher Walken as Norman Bates, but Anthony Perkins eventually came aboard to reprise his iconic role, and the production became so overwhelmed with press coverage and interest that the studio execs pursued a theatrical release. The bad news is that Psycho II is nowhere near as good as its lightning-in-a-bottle predecessor. The good news? It was made by a crew who cared about the project and wanted to honour Hitch, and the result is a lot better than expected.

††† Opening 22 years after the end of the first film, Norman Bates (Perkins) is declared to be cured of his insanity, and of sound body and mind. He is released back into society, despite the passionate pleas of Lila Loomis (Vera Miles), the sister of one of Normanís victims, whoís convinced that the rehabilitated madman is going to kill again. Returning to his family home next to the Bates Motel, Norman takes up a job at a local diner, where he meets kindly young waitress Mary Samuels (Meg Tilly), who becomes homeless after a harsh break-up with her boyfriend. Feeling sorry for Mary and not wanting to be alone, Norman invites her to live with him. Norman sacks the new manager of the Bates Motel, and looks to fix up the place and return it to its former glory. But try as he might, Norman cannot shake the feeling that something is not quite right, as he begins receiving notes and phone calls from his ďmotherĒ. Making matters worse, people begin to go missing around the motel...

††† Although Psycho II ostensibly looks like a needless cash-in sequel, itís a solid motion picture in its own right, a well-made and suspenseful thriller that rises above the grim standard for most horror sequels. Much of the credit has to go to writer Tom Holland, a newcomer at the time who went on to script Fright Night. Thereís a lot of head-slapping ambiguity during the opening act, as Holland and director Richard Franklin toy with us like a devious cat messing with a hapless mouse. The question looms about what exactly is happening, and if Norman really is insane again. Eventually, Psycho II begins revealing itself layer by later, leading to a shocking climax beset with surprises. Also beneficial is that Psycho II functions as a sensitive character study, observing the relationship between Norman and Mary which advances Normanís story in a fascinating way. Even if the film is not on the same level as Hitchcockís masterpiece, itís surprising just how intelligent and clever this sequel truly is, as it plots its own fresh path and doesnít try to recreate its predecessor.

††† Director Richard Franklin is a self-described student of Hitchcock; he worshipped the manís work, and even met him on the set of Topaz. He does lack Hitchís brilliant artistry and ability to generate shocks and chills, but Franklinís efforts are nevertheless effective. Recruiting Halloweenís director of photography Dean Cundey, Psycho II is a handsome motion picture, exhibiting Hitchcockian influence in its lighting, framing, deliberate pacing and subtle clues about the true nature of whatís going on. Nothing here is as masterful as the iconic shower scene, but Franklin stages a number of note-worthy set-pieces, using eerie shadows and creepy production design to enhance the mood and atmosphere. One huge misstep, though, is using the shower scene from the original film to open the picture. It feels like a cheesy gimmick, something one would see in a TV movie. Added to this, the score is not as chilling or memorable as Bernard Herrmannís remarkable contributions to Hitchcockís film.

††† The role of Norman Bates haunted Perkins throughout his career, and his performance here is one of the chief reasons why Psycho II works as well as it does. Bates is completely unlike í80s horror icons like Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger; whereas we enjoy seeing those characters kill and maim, we donít want to see Norman lose his sanity and kill again. Perkins is so utterly pathetic, yet heartbreakingly sympathetic as well, and we feel that heís earned the right to live peacefully after such a hard life. Itís painful to watch this easily likeable man try to maintain his sanity, question what is real, face temptation, and even wonder if heís mentally stable. Perkins also brilliantly keeps us guessing; we wonder just what exactly is happening, and even when things slowly become clear at the end, even then you might not be sure. Alongside him, Meg Tilly (sister of Jennifer Tilly) provides great support; she brings a sense of innocence to the role of Mary, and sheís beautiful, making for an ideal counterpoint to Bates. Even though Perkins reportedly tried to get Tilly fired after she revealed herself to have no knowledge of the original film or of Perkinsí legacy, the pair share great chemistry, and their interplay is engaging. One of the movieís standout scenes is the climax involving Norman and Mary thatís both thrilling and emotionally powerful.

††† Apart from Perkins, the only other returning cast member from the 1960 film is Vera Miles as Lila Loomis (formerly Lila Crane). Alas, her inclusion is one of the aspects of Psycho II that fails to sit right. She serves a purpose at the beginning of the movie, actively petitioning against Normanís release, but she has more than a cameo. Where the script leads her is frightening and unnecessary, turning this smart character into an idiotic, overwrought, revenge-minded harpy. Miles delivers a strong performance as Lila, but the proceedings here tarnish the characterís name.

††† If Psycho II were a standalone thriller with no ties to Hitchcockís timeless masterpiece, it would be an exceptional movie, and perhaps would be more fondly remembered. But as a follow-up to one of the most ďuntouchableĒ movies of all time, it loses a few points, due to the fact that it simply is not Hitchcockís movie, and a few aspects are questionable. Still, Psycho II is much better than it had a right to be, further developing Normanís character, providing plenty of twists and chills, and staying true to the spirit of its predecessor. Not to mention, itís head over heels superior to a lot of horror sequels.

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Transfer Quality

Video

††† Created from a HD master directly supplied by Universal, Psycho II is presented in 1080p high definition via the MPEG-4 AVC codec, framed at 1.84:1 (OAR is 1.85:1). The transfer is adequate but far from perfect, though since the video is exactly the same as Shout! Factoryís Region A release (which I own, and did a direct comparison with), the flaws are attributable to the supplied master as opposed to Via Visionís perfectly agreeable encode.

††† First, the positives. This is a stable HD transfer, with no evidence of distracting digital tampering, exhibiting a grain structure that keeps fine detail intact. Close-ups are often excellent, with plenty of detail on faces and clothing. Although there is an assortment of flecks and scratches, this is a mostly clean print free of any major issues. Colour is decent (with caveats, more on that below), and the image is reasonably sharp.

††† However, Psycho IIís Blu-ray is by no means perfect. The grain is not as well-refined as it should be, and thereís a fair amount of digital video noise as well, making for an occasionally smeary image in need of better clarity. This is an inconsistent transfer, at times very good while at other times looking almost on the same level as an upscaled DVD. Furthermore, the image does look washed-out from time to time, which gives Psycho II the appearance of a television movie. Some might say this is the fault of the original photography, but thatís unlikely, as Dean Cundey (John Carpenterís go-to DOP) is a very careful and stylish cinematographer. There is also a shot towards the film's end which suffers from a noticeable shudder, an error traceable to the source since it was also on the Shout! disc.

††† In final analysis, Psycho II looks decent on Blu-ray, flaws and all. Especially considering that this film would not have been a top priority for Blu-ray, the transfer is probably the best it will ever be, unless a lot of money and time is put into a new 4K remaster, which is very unlikely. Iíll take it, especially after many years of being stuck with a low-quality DVD.

††† Only English subtitles are available.


Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

††† Four audio options are available on this disc: an English DTS-HD MA 5.1 track, an English DTS-HD MA 2.0 track, and the two commentary tracks, both of which are encoded in DTS-HD. The 2.0 track is there for the purists, as the 5.1 track was mixed more recently. Listening to both, there is not a great deal between them, though there is not much that a 5.1 track could really bring to the table beyond a bit more precision from the surround channels. This is not Transformers, after all.

††† Psycho II sounds simply magnificent on Blu-ray. Dialogue is crystal clear, and mixed well enough that itís never overwhelmed by ambience or music. Jerry Goldsmithís music also comes through impressively, and the various murders and unnerving set-pieces are given extra oomph thanks to the lossless audio. Indeed, sound effects have plenty of impact, with knife slicing sounding perfectly visceral.

††† Happily, there are no issues with the audio tracks - thereís no hissing or crackling, which is fantastic for a film of this age. Psycho II is not demo material, but it does show that older movies can be given new aural life on Blu-ray.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

††† A reasonable selection of extras, all of which were ported over from the Region A Shout! Factory release. However, one must wonder why there aren't any recently-recorded interviews like those found on the Psycho III Blu-ray.

Cast and Crew Interviews (SD; 35:22)

††† Taken from an ancient VHS source, this is an odd mishmash of Electronic Press Kit material from Universalís vaults, and itís as much about the success and legacy of Hitchcockís original as it is about the sequel itself. A whole heap of people are interviewed, including Perkins and director Franklin, on top of Janet Leigh as well. There is some nice insight and behind-the-scenes footage, though there is a fair amount of overlap, and since this featurette comprises of little EPK snippets cut together, there is not enough meaty insight into the production. There are some significant audio issues with this featurette, particularly in the opening few minutes when audio randomly cuts out for seconds at a time, while the video itself is extremely rough, with artefacts and flickering; it looks like an old VHS cassette. Still, this is a worthwhile inclusion, and itís worth a watch.

Trailers (SD; 3:44)

††† Two trailers are included here; a teaser, and a more comprehensive theatrical trailer. Good for historical purposes.

TV Spots (SD; 2:02)

††† Four thirty-second TV spots are included. Most are of poor quality, sourced from a VHS.

Stills Gallery (HD)

††† A whole heap of stills are included here, from publicity shots to production stills and screenshots, as well as poster art. These are all of great quality.

Play Film with Cast and Crew Interviews

††† Iím not exactly sure why these interviews play over the movie, as they only play over the first 20 minutes or so. Anyway, this is a selection of radio spots and promos, featuring input from cast and crew. Of limited interest, but a nice inclusion nevertheless.

Audio Commentary with Tom Holland

††† This track is undoubtedly the piŤce de rťsistance of the set, with screenwriter Tom Holland sitting down with Rob Galluzzo, the man responsible for the Psycho Legacy documentary. The two men have a lot to discuss and plenty of trivia to convey, with Galluzzo often prompting Holland to talk about scene-specific details. Added to this, Holland talks about his various decisions in the writing process, and how the project evolved, with Perkins coming on-board and with Vera Miles agreeing to return. The two men also (understandably) have a heightened appreciation for director Richard Franklin. Thereís plenty of interesting info here. Any fan of Psycho II really needs to listen to this track. Oddly, this track is only accessible from the audio options; it's not in the bonus features section.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

† † The Region A Shout! Factory edition is identical to our local release in terms of video/audio, and supplements. Buy local with confidence.

Summary

††† Psycho II remains underrated and overlooked, an artistic thriller which has its own interesting story to tell. Any fans of the original movie really need to give it a shot. Via Vision's Blu-ray is of a high quality considering how overlooked the movie is. Recommended.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Wednesday, December 16, 2015
Review Equipment
DVDPlayStation 4, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 42LW6500. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationLG BH7520TW
SpeakersLG Tall Boy speakers, 5.1 set-up, 180W

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Psycho (Blu-ray) (1960) | Psycho II (Blu-ray) (1983) | Psycho III (Blu-ray) (1986) | Psycho IV: The Beginning (Blu-ray) (1990) | Psycho (1998) (Blu-ray) | Bates Motel (1987) | The Psycho Legacy (2010)

Psycho III (Blu-ray) (1986)

Psycho III (Blu-ray) (1986)

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Released 2-Mar-2016

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Featurette-Watch the Guitar - An Interview with Jeff Fahey
Featurette-Patsy's Last Night - An Interview with Katt Shea
Featurette-Mother's Maker - An Interview with Michael Westmore
Featurette-Body Double with Brinke Stevens
Theatrical Trailer
Gallery-Photo
Audio Commentary-with Charles Edward Pogue
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 1986
Running Time 92:50
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Anthony Perkins
Studio
Distributor

ViaVision
Starring Anthony Perkins
Diana Scarwid
Jeff Fahey
Roberta Maxwell
Hugh Gillin
Lee Garlington
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Carter Burwell


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English DTS HD Master Audio 2.0
English Audio Commentary DTS HD Master Audio 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

††† The decision to create so much as one sequel to Alfred Hitchcockís Psycho was risky, but the crew behind 1983ís Psycho II made it work, resulting in a strong follow-up that also stands as a terrific thriller on its own terms. Another sequel was seriously pushing it, and itís unfortunate to report that 1986ís Psycho III is a tremendous step down in quality. Although Psycho III is built on an interesting conceptual framework and further develops the story of Norman Bates, the execution is mediocre at best, resulting in a 90-minute slasher that feels closer to a Friday the 13th instalment. Nevertheless, itís a blessing that the picture is not as idiotic or as insulting as it might have been in less deft hands, and one must admire Anthony Perkinsí courage to both star in and direct the movie despite having no filmmaking experience.

††† Taking place about a month after the events of Psycho II, Norman Bates (Perkins) is still the sole caretaker of the Bates Motel, living in his familyís ancient house which stands adjacent. Falling back into mental instability, Norman keeps the rotting corpse of his ďmotherĒ in her room upstairs, and she is prone to murdering the motel guests if they do not sit right with her. Norman seeks to hire another pair of hands to help with watching over the motel, recruiting wily wannabe musician Duane Duke (Jeff Fahey). Meanwhile, a new patron has moved into the motel; troubled former nun Maureen (Diana Scarwid), who strongly reminds Norman of one of his victims, Marion Crane. As Norman and Maureen grow closer and feel a mutual attraction to one another, Normanís mother grows unhappy with their relationship. Complicating matters further, tenacious reporter Tracy Venable (Roberta Maxwell) begins snooping around, determined to uncover proof that Norman is responsible for the recent disappearances of several people.

††† From the very outset, we know that Norman is a schizophrenic murderer again, with writer Charles Edward Pogue providing a behind-the-curtain glimpse of Norman conversing with his dead mother and preparing to kill. In theory itís interesting to see this side of Norman, but Psycho III is low on surprises. Psychoís ending was groundbreaking, while Psycho II also packed a handful of shocking twists, but Psycho IIIís conclusion is unsurprising and rote, making little impact. Itís clever to turn this instalment into more of a character study, but Pogue and Perkins do not take full advantage of the set-up. Furthermore, Psycho III was never going to live up to Hitchcockís film in any capacity, but it keeps inviting comparisons. Psycho II worked because it found its own voice while subtly paying homage to the Master of Suspense, but Psycho III takes things a step further, with murders that visually recreate the death scenes in the 1960 original. Itís too awestruck with Hitchcockís film, and as a result itís not bold enough to try anything innovative. In fact, itís so awestruck with Hitch in general, as Perkins even stages a homage to Vertigo to open the picture. Psycho III is at its best when it introduces its own creative, twisted moments, including a marvellous scene in which the sheriff eats from the motelís tainted ice machine. In another perfect moment, Norman as Mother is on a rampage, but decides to straighten up a painting while pursuing his victim.

††† The true horror of Hitchcockís Psycho was its ďless is moreĒ approach, necessitated because Hitch had strict censorship guidelines to adhere to, else his movie would not be released. The Master of Suspense took the limitations in his stride, resulting in a very classy horror movie. A knife is never shown piercing the skin, with the death scenes creatively shot to compel us to mentally fill in the blanks. Psycho III, on the other hand, was created in a different time period, when gratuitous í80s slashers were rampant, hence on-screen nudity and explicit violence was not only allowed but encouraged. Perkins (bless his heart) gives it his all, but his directorial approach is too obvious and unremarkable, and consequently Psycho III lacks scares and chilling moments. Itís all a bit rote, and one must wonder what a Hitchcock-inspired virtuoso like Brian De Palma couldíve made of this project. That said, there is one aspect of Psycho III that really works: Carter Burwellís terrific synch score. Itís a far cry from Bernard Herrmannís music, but Burwellís work is nicely atmospheric.

††† Even if the film is marred by several issues, Perkinsí performance as Norman Bates is as brilliant as always has been. Norman represents an ideal antithesis to slasher movie icons; although he does commit unspeakably brutal acts of murder, heís morally conflicted about it, coming across as a man-child unable to control his mental state. You feel genuine sympathy for Norman, and though you know that he needs to be locked up again, you do not want him to be caught or arrested. Also good here is Scarwid as Maureen, while Fahey is wonderfully sleazy as Duke.

††† Psycho III is not essential viewing, and, like Psycho II, itís unable to recapture the artistry and ingeniousness of Hitchcockís original film. Psycho really did not need any sequels, and it doesnít help that this is pretty much a run-of-the-mill í80s slasher. Still, itís a worthwhile enough continuation of Psycho II, and those interested in the Bates mythos should find it to be a fun watch.

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Transfer Quality

Video

††† As with its immediate predecessor, Psycho III is presented in 1080p high definition, framed at 1.84:1 (OAR is 1.85:1) and encoded in MPEG-4 AVC. It appears to be a direct port of the Region A Shout! Factory transfer, with the HD master supplied by Universal. Itís a decent presentation, very similar in quality to Psycho II, which is to say it does have its unfortunate issues.

††† Grain is kept intact at least, retaining a nice amount of detail, and colour is often terrific. Itís a stable image with adequate sharpness, and Via Visionís encode does not yield any aliasing or banding, though there is some slight crush and minor ringing. In well-lit outdoor scenes, the transfer is often eye-catching, lending a sense of atmosphere and doing justice to the original photography. Close-ups reveal plenty of detail, not to mention lifelike flesh-tones.

††† The transfer is peppered with an assortment of flecks and blemishes, even more than in Psycho II, though itís not too much of an issue. However, the image does tend to be a bit muddy and smeary, lacking that ďpopĒ of HD excellence we have seen for films of a similar vintage. This type of issue is common with Universal transfers, so this would be the fault of the master rather then Via Visionís presentation.

††† Psycho III looks respectable on Blu-ray, but falls short of greatness, looking a bit more like a HD TV broadcast or a compressed video file than a crisp Blu-ray disc. But as with Psycho II, Iíll take it, as I doubt the movie will ever receive a top-notch 4K remaster to rectify the flaws of this image. Casual movie-goers probably wonít have much of an issue with the presentation, but fussy videofiles might be let down a tad.

††† There is only one subtitle track, in English.


Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

††† Via Vision offers two main audio options for the movie: a remixed DTS-HD MA 5.1 track, and a DTS-HD MA 2.0 track which recreates the original mono sound design. As with Psycho II, the 5.1 track is tastefully done, but itís nothing outstanding. Still, the extra surround activity does make the aural experience a bit fuller and more immersive, and it doesnít replace any sound effects or b******ise the soundtrack.

††† Carter Burwellís ominous, atmospheric score makes plenty of impact from the outset, while the dialogue is always well-prioritised and crisp. No hissing or crackling poses any issues; itís smooth sailing.

††† Psycho III sounds perfectly good on Blu-ray, and with the audio being lossless, it sounds so much better than a DVD. The disc also offers an audio commentary, encoded in DTS-HD 2.0.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

††† As with Psycho II, this disc contains everything from the Region A Shout! Factory disc, with a handful of really worthwhile recently-recorded interviews.

Watch the Guitar - An Interview with Jeff Fahey (HD; 16:50)

††† This recently-recorded interview with Fahey is genuinely fantastic, with the actor conveying his strong memories about working on Psycho III, and how he looks back on the experience nearly three decades on. His insight into the production is priceless, talking about the audition process with Anthony Perkins, and about the filming of several key scenes. He was also truly grateful to have a job at the time. Well worth watching.

Patsy's Last Night - An Interview with Katt Shea (HD; 8:41)

††† Another genuinely insightful extra, this is an interview with Katt Shea, who went on to become a director (Psycho III was her final acting role). Although brief, Shea has a lot of interesting anecdotes about the process of making the movie, from the audition when Perkins loved her straight away (and called her his leading lady), to the filming of a number of her scenes. She talks a fair amount about working with Perkins (who was very stressed during production), who at one stage stuck her in an ice box with real ice.

Mother's Maker - An Interview with Special Make-Up Effects Creator Michael Westmore (HD; 11:13)

††† The next interview subject is a veteran of the make-up/special effects industry, Michael Westmore, who first started at Universal in the early 1960s. Westmore recalls working on Psycho III, with Perkins aiming to bring together a crew of veterans to make the film more special. He goes into detail about many of his special effect creations and several key scenes, and speaks about how much he cherished working with Perkins.

Body Double with Brinke Stevens (HD; 5:15)

††† This last interview piece is with Brinke Stevens, who was a body double in Psycho III, and who was in a number of B-grade horror movies. Stevens talks about the process which led to her being hired, and what it was like working with Perkins (who sounds utterly endearing). It might seem that interviewing a body double (who was only in one scene) is grasping at straws, but Stevens is insightful enough.

Trailers (SD; 1:55)

††† One brief trailer and a TV spot. Interesting from a historical perspective, though the video is in pretty bad shape.

Still Gallery (HD)

††† An extensive gallery of 100 stills, with publicity shots, poster art and on-set photographs. Itís interesting to see Perkins interacting with his actors, and being the director in general. Definitely worth going through.

Audio Commentary with Charles Edward Pogue

††† Sitting down with DVD producer Michael Felsher, screenwriter Charles Edward Pogue provides a mostly interesting discussion about Psycho III. He does almost instantly attack Psycho II, calling its climactic twist misguided, and explaining that he wanted to ďfixĒ that perceived mistake with his (inferior) instalment. Pogue isnít even shy about saying that he has not even seen Psycho IV: The Beginning, explaining that he had an idea for a fourth film but the studio went in another direction. Anyway, this commentary is a worthwhile listen, though itís not exactly technical, owing to Pogueís status as a writer. Both men are evidently fond of the movie, and talk enthusiastically about a number of aspects. As with the commentary on Psycho II, this track is not available from the special features submenu; only the ďAudio SetupĒ submenu.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

† † Our local release is a direct port of the Shout! Factory disc (there are only a few disc menu differences), with the same HD presentation and the same extras. A draw.

Summary

††† The worst of the four Psycho movies (though not as bad as the remake), Psycho III has its moments, but it's a bit flaccid overall, and looks even worse compared to Hitchcock's original movie. Fans of the movie should be happy with this disc, as it sports reasonable video, terrific audio and a wonderful supply of insightful extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Thursday, December 17, 2015
Review Equipment
DVDPlayStation 4, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 42LW6500. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationLG BH7520TW
SpeakersLG Tall Boy speakers, 5.1 set-up, 180W

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Psycho (Blu-ray) (1960) | Psycho II (Blu-ray) (1983) | Psycho III (Blu-ray) (1986) | Psycho IV: The Beginning (Blu-ray) (1990) | Psycho (1998) (Blu-ray) | Bates Motel (1987) | The Psycho Legacy (2010)

Psycho IV: The Beginning (Blu-ray) (1990)

Psycho IV: The Beginning (Blu-ray) (1990)

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Released 2-Mar-2016

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1990
Running Time 96:20
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Mick Garris
Studio
Distributor

ViaVision
Starring Anthony Perkins
Henry Thomas
Olivia Hussey
CCH Pounder
Warren Frost
Donna Mitchell
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $15.95 Music Graeme Revell


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

††† It has been stated before and it deserves to be repeated: Alfred Hitchcockís Psycho did not need to be sequelised. But that didnít stop sequels from materialising, leading to the unexpectedly strong Psycho II and the underwhelming Psycho III. Released in 1990, Psycho IV: The Beginning is the final instalment in the Psycho franchise (save for the remake and the recent TV show), and the last motion picture to feature Anthony Perkins in his most iconic role. Although the last two sequels were released theatrically, Psycho IV debuted on cable television, hence itís a fairly low-key affair, for better or for worse. The good news is that this fourth movie is better than Psycho III, and is actually a fairly decent movie in its own right, but of course it falls far short of the timeless classic that spawned it.

††† Rather than another murder spree for Norman Bates (Perkins), Psycho IV functions as a prequel of sorts, which is tradition for horror franchises. Norman now lives peacefully with his wife Connie (Donna Mitchell), who informs him that they are having a baby even though Norman is vehemently against continuing the Bates lineage. Late one night, Norman calls into a late-night radio show hosted by Fran Ambrose (CCH Pounder) whoís covering the topic of why sons kill their mothers. Calling in under the pseudonym of ĎEdí (a nod to Ed Gein, the serial killer whom Bates is based on), Norman relays the tale of his younger years when he lived with his mother Norma (Olivia Hussey). A controlling, demanding woman with severe mood swings, Norma psychologically abused Norman (played as a teenager by Henry Thomas) and repressed his sexuality, driving him to commit murder. And while telling his story on radio, Norman also explains that he has the urge to kill just once more...

††† For a television film, Psycho IV was a fairly ambitious project. After all, it follows in the footsteps of Hitchcockís immortal classic and was even penned by Joseph Stefano, who wrote the screenplay for the 1960 film (adapting Robert Blochís novel). Even though thereís a IV in the title, one doesnít need to have seen the other sequels in order to watch this one - Psycho IV plays out as more of a direct sequel to Hitchcockís movie, though II and III arenít exactly contradicted either. Whereas Norma has been heavily discussed in previous films, this is the first instalment to feature scenes of her when she was alive, providing a firsthand glimpse of Normanís upbringing. However, the relationship is not as layered and nuanced as perhaps it should, with Norma written as an outright evil character. Psycho IV also misses the chance to do something more novel with Batesí backstory, not to mention Stefano neglects the dark comedy aspect that was most notably present in the prior sequels, making this a very serious affair.

††† Despite the problematic writing, Psycho IV nevertheless does its job well enough. At the helm was Mick Garris, who also directed the likes of Critters 2 and Sleepwalkers. Working from a modest budget, the movie is fairly basic in its cinematography and direction, lacking the spark of visual elegance previously provided by Hitchcock and Richard Franklin (Psycho II). A defter cinematographer might have made the picture more exciting, yet itís still competent enough, especially for a TV movie produced in 1990. Murder scenes are often thrilling, particularly the intense scene of Norman poisoning his mother and her lover, and Garris keeps the movie chugging along at an agreeable pace for its humble 96-minute duration. The score, composed by Graeme Revell (The Crow, Sin City), often slavishly recreates Bernard Herrmannís iconic sound, yet itís mostly effective.

††† Perkins, who had directed Psycho III and was perpetually associated with Bates, is note-perfect as to be expected, effortlessly slipping back into his notorious role as if no time had passed. Itís hard not to like Perkins, with his boyish good looks and limitless charisma, which gives the film an edge. Meanwhile, Henry Thomas, who was so adorable in Steven Spielbergís E.T., is a superb young Norman Bates, managing to mimic Perkinsí traits without coming off as forced - itís easy to accept that this is the same character. Heís one of the filmís main assets, and heís sympathetic despite the awful acts he commits. And as Normanís mother, Hussey does her best with the overly one-dimensional role, believable as both a loving mother and a cruel sadist. Worth noting that Hussey actually appeared in 1974ís Black Christmas, one of the many slasher films that was inspired by Hitchcockís Psycho. The rest of the ensemble are serviceable, with Pounder making a particularly good impression as the radio host.

††† Psycho IV is frequently criticised, often unfairly so. Of course it pales in comparison to the first movie, but basically every horror movie does. What matters is that itís not an awful sequel, and it doesnít tarnish the franchise. Added to this, itís an improvement over Psycho III, and itís at least admirable that the movie doesnít turn Bates into a mindless slasher like Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers. Though not scintillating, Psycho IV is a perfectly respectable way to close the series, and a fine way to conclude the story of Norman Bates, who still retains sympathy and humanity thanks to Perkinsí fine, nuanced portrayal.

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Transfer Quality

Video

††† Via Vision presents Psycho IV: The Beginning in 1080p high definition, via the MPEG-4 AVC video codec. The HD master was supplied directly from Universal. The feature was shot and edited on 35mm film stock, as opposed to video which was the norm for television productions at the time. Thus, Psycho IV is not some cheap-looking DVD upscale, but a true HD presentation, and it's pretty d*** good.

††† The movie was originally finished and aired in full-screen 1.33:1, but this Blu-ray presentation is widescreen, framed at 1.85:1. Comparing the image to my old full-screen DVD, it appears that the widescreen presentation is the result of a mix of cropping and re-framing. In some shots, the Blu-ray possesses more visual information on one or both sides of the frame, while in other shots the Blu-ray has less information at the top and bottom. I do prefer faithful presentations, but Psycho IVís widescreen image is tastefully done, and does help to give the movie a cinematic look more in keeping with the other instalments in the Psycho franchise.

††† This is the first time ever that Psycho IV has debuted on Blu-ray anywhere in the world, which makes this transfer a bit of a godsend. Itís much better than expected. Looking roughly in line with Psycho II and III, if perhaps a bit more refined, the presentation retains a healthy grain structure which accentuates the image, keeping fine detail intact. After years of a low-quality DVD, itís a pleasure to watch this HD image. Close-ups are nicely detailed, and the transfer thankfully does not suffer in low light sequences. I did notice some minor ringing on the edges of objects, but itís not overly distracting.

††† As with the prior sequels, there is the usual smattering of specks and blemishes, but I almost prefer it that way, as it gives the visuals more character. However, as with Psycho II and III, the HD image is not as refined as more expensive restoration efforts, with decent but unspectacular sharpness, and some degree of muddiness.

††† Although it falls short of perfection (like the film itself), Psycho IV looks a lot better than expected for its high definition debut, and itís hard to imagine anybody being disappointed with it. This is likely the best we will ever get.

††† No subtitles are available.


Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

††† Unlike the previous sequels, Psycho IV: The Beginning arrives with only one audio option: an English DTS-HD MA 5.1 track. Itís a strong, robust track, especially considering the TV movie origins, and it does its job very effectively.

††† The elements are in great condition, with no bothersome issues to speak of. Itís a clean track, free of any crackling or hissing, though naturally itís not as crisp or as impactful as a more recent horror movie. Dialogue is the main order of the day, and there are no issues here, with all the chatter coming through the front channels with impressive precision. Itís a well-mixed track, with Revellís score coming through nicely and the various sound effects making an impact.

††† There is some noticeable separation which makes the experience more immersive, particularly in outdoor environments. But being a made-for-cable movie produced in 1990, itís not going to be anyoneís go-to disc to show off their surround sound. Psycho IV sounds marvellous on Blu-ray, as good as anybody could reasonably expect.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

††† None. Nothing at all. The disc menu has a single option: ďPlay Movie.Ē Being the most recent Psycho sequel, some interviews and a commentary wouldíve been nice. What a shame.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

† † On August 23rd, 2016, Shout Factory released a Region A-locked Blu-ray edition. Reportedly it only features lossless 2.0 audio as opposed to our 5.1 track, though I cannot comment on which is better. However, Shout's Blu-ray comes with exclusive special features:

††† Shout's edition is the clear winner.

Summary

††† The final Psycho movie doesn't get the recognition it probably deserves. The fact that it's not irredeemably awful or stupid is a godsend. I enjoyed it, and am happy with the movie's Blu-ray release. Despite no extras, the presentation is strong enough to warrant a purchase.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Friday, December 18, 2015
Review Equipment
DVDPlayStation 4, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 42LW6500. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationLG BH7520TW
SpeakersLG Tall Boy speakers, 5.1 set-up, 180W

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Psycho (Blu-ray) (1960) | Psycho II (Blu-ray) (1983) | Psycho III (Blu-ray) (1986) | Psycho IV: The Beginning (Blu-ray) (1990) | Psycho (1998) (Blu-ray) | Bates Motel (1987) | The Psycho Legacy (2010)

Psycho (1998) (Blu-ray)

Psycho (1998) (Blu-ray)

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Released 2-Mar-2016

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Featurette-Psycho Path - Documentary
Additional Footage-International News Reel Footage
Additional Footage-Additional Shower Scene
Theatrical Trailer
Gallery
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1998
Running Time 105
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Gus Van Sant
Studio
Distributor

ViaVision
Starring Vince Vaughn
Anne Heche
Julianne Moore
Viggo Mortensen
William H. Macy
Robert Forster
Philip Baker Hall
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $19.95 Music Danny Elfman
Steve Bartek


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

††† Even in 2015, simply the notion of remaking Alfred Hitchcockís Psycho seems every bit as ill-advised, pointless and idiotic as it did back in the 1990s. Why waste time and money to remake perfection? This ďwhyĒ can admittedly be addressed in a financial sense, since Universal likely assumed that there would be a built-in audience of curious fans and oblivious film-goers. However, there is no artistic motive to remake Psycho, especially with director Gus Van Sant staging a scene-for-scene, almost shot-for-shot aping of Hitchcockís original, except now itís in colour, stars a more modern cast, and is supported by a generous budget. A mostly limp, paint-by-numbers bore, 1998ís Psycho is still every bit as dreadful as ever, with the filmís shonky reputation now speaking for itself.

††† A real estate secretary earning a thankless wage who yearns to do more with her life, Marion Crane (Anne Heche) is entrusted by her employer to deposit $400,000 in the bank. (For those keeping score, it was only $40,000 in the original.) However, Marion perceives the sizeable sum of money as an opportunity for a fresh start, impulsively deciding to steal it and run. En route to visit her boyfriend Sam (Viggo Mortensen), an exhausted Marion pulls into the Bates Motel on a rainy evening, where she meets proprietor Norman Bates (Vince Vaughn). Events of this evening eventually turn violent, with the jealous rage of Normanís twisted mother putting an end to Marionís plans. Once Marionís disappearance becomes worrisome to those close to her, private investigator Milton Arbogast (William H. Macy) is recruited to hopefully put an end to the mystery.

††† Ironically, Van Sant once stated in a Newsweek article that he detests remake. In fact (irony of all ironies), he calls his Psycho an ďanti-remake film.Ē But producing something comparable to his ambitions requires a deft touch that simply eludes Van Sant, with the picture bearing no evidence of satire underneath its surface. Itís just extremely dreary and meaningless.

††† Remakes are not inherently bad, as some remakes have successfully produced a new, exciting interpretation of older material. Hell, recycling ideas and stories has been a staple of Hollywood since cinemaís inception - Akira Kurosawaís samurai masterpiece Yojimbo was remade as both A Fistful of Dollars and Last Man Standing, while John Sturgesí The Magnificent Seven was a western appropriation of Kurosawaís Seven Samurai. But Hitchcockís Psycho does not possess the type of transcendent premise that easily yields itself to a new reimagining, and apparently Van Sant himself even knew this. Thus, Van Sant actually re-uses Joseph Stefanoís screenplay for the original film, making a few minor changes along the way. Moreover, with Van Sant wanting to produce a shot-for-shot recreation, he constantly referred back to Hitchcockís film on-set, asking the performers to mimic movements to the best of their abilities.

††† Granted, if Van Sant made any major alterations, it may have alienated Hitchcock purists, but at least the project would have been bolder and more compelling. What if the entire story was told from Normanís perspective? What if Van Sant produced a page-for-page translation of Robert Blochís source novel? Instead, this Psycho is tragically gutless, with small changes that are detrimental if anything. There is some rear nudity, for instance, the setting is modernised, and Norman is unmistakably masturbating as he peeps on Marion. Thus, the movie copies Hitchcock without paying heed of his ďless is moreĒ approach. How ironic. Hereís the big problem: even if you want to praise something in 1998ís Psycho, you would be much better off praising the Hitchcock film. In fact, youíd be better off just watching the Hitchcock film as opposed to this drivel. Furthermore, one of the biggest reasons for Psychoís success in 1960 was because of how bold, original and unexpected it was, with strict cinema policies to avoid spoiling any surprises. But the twists are well-known now, lessening this remakeís impact, especially since it lacks unexpected twists of its own.

††† With Van Sant determined to include every line and pause from Hitchcockís original, nothing flows naturally; it all feels very awkward, with lines and actions included perfunctorily rather than organically. To be sure, the presentation is professional, as to be expected from the budget, while Danny Elfman recreates every cue of Bernard Herrmannís original compositions in rousing stereo. But with the film feeling so forced, this incarnation of Psycho is not particularly thrilling or scary, playing out in a slapdash fashion. Added to this, the movie feels strangely humdrum in colour, whereas Hitchcockís stylish black and white photography enhanced his filmís unnerving mood. Even the remade shower scene is an absolute dud, lacking the immediacy of the original film. Almost all shots are recreated (though pointless flashes of a stormy sky are thrown in as well), adding up to nothing except a lifeless imitation, much like the rest of the movie. Motion pictures are supposed to constantly evolve, with script revisions in pre-production and on-set, while editors continuously tinker with a movie in post-production, adding and removing shots, scenes or lines of dialogue. This is exactly why this Psycho never works, as itís too closely tethered to the original movie, stuck with moments that worked for Hitchcockís film but are simply ineffective here.

††† The performances are another issue, as the cast play surface-level impersonations of their characters instead of embodying them. Heche pales in comparison to Janet Leigh, and is unable to recite lines without sounding hopelessly forced. Mortensen is equally weak, and frequently sounds as if heís just reciting lines from nearby cue cards, though Julianne Moore and William H. Macy do fare slightly better. Most lamentably, Vaughn is unable to present a truly compelling interpretation of Norman Bates, despite his attempts to imitate a number of Anthony Perkinsí mannerisms. Itís actually quite amusing to look back at Vaughn trying his hand at a serious performance here, since he now works exclusively in comedy, and the notion of Vaughn in a straight-faced drama or thriller is sure to provoke ridicule. Vaughn fails to breath life into his portrayal of Bates, spouting the original dialogue in an often unconvincing fashion.

††† The makers of 1998ís Psycho obviously wanted to pay tribute to Hitchcockís exceptional work, but the film comes across as more of an expensive self-indulgent exercise - it was, after all, undoubtedly more fun for Van Sant and crew to make the film than it will be for an anybody to watch the fruit of their labours. All these years on, this remake is only worth watching as a historical curiosity, though there probably is an audience of young modern movie-goers who would prefer to watch this newer, colour version of Psycho over the ďoldĒ original. With its critical mauling, terrible reputation and box office failure, 1998ís Psycho has only served one useful purpose: It has discouraged other studios and filmmakers from doing another remake of Hitchís untouchable classic.

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Transfer Quality

Video

††† This is the first time that 1998ís Psycho has hit Blu-ray in an English-speaking region, with this remake only receiving a problematic release in Italy. Via Visionís 1080p high definition master came directly from Universal, with the AVC-encoded video framed in the movieís original aspect ratio of 1.85:1.

††† The big issue with the video is that it lacks the refinement and pop of fine detail one would expect from a movie of this vintage. Universal is notorious for its use of digital noise reduction, and this fairly dated transfer often looks smeary and waxy. For instance, the shot of Arbogast arriving at the motel and talking to Bates has been hopelessly scrubbed of grain and fine detail, looking like an oil painting. I also detected a fair amount of edge enhancement. And with some unrefined video noise popping up from time to time, the image looks unusually compressed.

††† One assumes that the video engineers simply did not care about 1998ís Psycho whilst prepping it for HD, and this transfer was most likely created in the early days of the Blu-ray format. This may even be an old DVD master. It looks very dated indeed, suffering from the issues which plagued early era Universal Blu-rays. Itís disappointing to witness this, too, as Universal has recently remastered a number of catalogue titles, including 1995ís Apollo 13, which is an older movie but (on its recent American Blu-ray re-release) looks leaps and bounds better and more refined than Psycho.

††† On a more positive note, some shots look better than others, and I didnít detect any crush, though there is some ringing. Colour is fine, looking true to the movieís theatrical presentation (it lines up with the VHS and DVD versions I recall viewing as a teen). The print is dotted with marks and specks, but itís not too much of a problem.

††† Casual viewers may not notice or even care about this transferís big issues, though they will likely find the video to be less impressive than carefully-remastered catalogue efforts. But videofiles will no doubt find this HD presentation drab and unimpressive. Considering the fact that everyone involved in the movie probably wants to forget it ever existed, this may be the best we will ever get. And since I do not plan to watch the movie much in the future, I canít say Iím too fussed.

††† There are no subtitles.


Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

††† Although Psycho was released on Blu-ray in Italy, the English option available was a lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 track that was plagued with glitches that had the movieís three or four fans up in arms. Luckily, Via Visionís audio presentation of Psycho is much better, with an English DTS-HD MA 5.1 track that does its job remarkably well. No other audio tracks are available, so non-English buyers beware.

††† Psychoís audio track is much better than the problematic transfer; itís crisp, clear and refined, as to be expected from a late-Ď90s production. Dialogue is well-prioritised, coming through with utmost clarity, but itís Danny Elfmanís rearrangement of Herrmannís music that really benefits from a lossless audio presentation. Indeed, even though itís a carbon copy of Herrmannís original score, it does sound magnificent, with the surround channels creating a nicely enveloping soundscape.

††† With its low-key nature, the rear channels are mostly reserved for music and ambience, while the subwoofer accentuates the visceral stabbing sounds. There are no problems with the audio to report, and anyone looking for a faithful audio presentation of the movie wonít find much to complain about.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

††† A decent selection of bonus material is included. Curiously absent, however, is the commentary track with Vaughn, Van Sant and Heche which was on the Collector's Edition DVD. Also curious is that Via Vision's Psycho DVD collection lists the commentary track on the back cover, though I cannot confirm if it is on the disc. The movie's detractors wonít care either way, but it does make this overall package feel incomplete.

Psycho Path - Documentary (SD; 30:24)

††† This documentary is more interesting and enjoyable than the movie itself. Opening with a montage of people trashing the idea of remaking Psycho, this extra delves into the mindset and genesis behind the project, with interviews from a number of key players, including Van Sant, cinematographer Christopher Doyle, and even original screenwriter Joseph Stefano. Ample behind the scenes footage is included, with Van Sant often seen watching segments of Hitchcockís original film between takes. The filming of the shower scene is included, as well as a few other key sequences. The music is even covered, with Danny Elfman referring to Herrmannís original compositions. Even if you dislike the remake as much as I do, this featurette is worth watching.

International News Reel Footage (SD; 7:45)

††† Even though this disc is dedicated to the remake, this is the same extra available on the Blu-ray for Hitchcockís movie. Itís a reel of news footage from the release of Psycho in 1960.

Additional Shower Scene (SD; 2:30)

††† This is the exact same extra from the original movieís disc; the shower scene of the 1960 film is included both with and without music.

Trailer (SD; 1:49)

††† Taken from a visibly old (full-screen) source, this is the trailer for the movie, with the Universal logo watermark at the bottom.

Stills Gallery (HD; 1:11)

††† This is a selection of screenshots from the movie. Please note that you cannot navigate between photos; itís a video slideshow.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

† † On May 9th, 2017, Shout Factory released a Region A-locked Blu-ray edition. The transfer appears to be identical. Shout's edition misses out on the "Additional Shower Scene" and "International News Reel Footage" but adds:

††† I'm giving the win to Shout. Two commentaries is a pretty good get, though I can't imagine too many people rushing out to buy this flick in the first place.

Summary

††† It's hard to find much merit in 1998's Psycho, which has not stood the test of time. I feel that everybody involved wants to sweep it under the rug, and I can't say I blame them. This Blu-ray release is a bit underwhelming, with a highly flawed, processed video presentation, though audio is pretty good. Extras are reasonable, but the absence of the audio commentary from the DVD is disappointing.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Saturday, December 19, 2015
Review Equipment
DVDPlayStation 4, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 42LW6500. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationLG BH7520TW
SpeakersLG Tall Boy speakers, 5.1 set-up, 180W

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Psycho (Blu-ray) (1960) | Psycho II (Blu-ray) (1983) | Psycho III (Blu-ray) (1986) | Psycho IV: The Beginning (Blu-ray) (1990) | Psycho (1998) (Blu-ray) | Bates Motel (1987) | The Psycho Legacy (2010)

Bates Motel (1987)

Bates Motel (1987) (NTSC)

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Released 2-Dec-2015

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1987
Running Time 90
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Richard Rothstein
Studio
Distributor

ViaVision
Starring Bud Cort
Lori Petty
Moses Gunn
Gregg Henry
Khrystyne Haje
Jason Bateman
Kerrie Keane
Kurt Paul
Case ?
RPI Box Music J. Peter Robinson


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

††† Long before A&Eís Bates Motel premiered in 2013, there was the 1987 telemovie Bates Motel, which was designed to be a pilot for a potential television show. Suffice it to say, the show was never picked up by any network, and itís not hard to see why. Written and directed by Richard Rothstein, the movie disposes of everything that made Psycho so fascinating in the first place, and it doesnít even focus on franchise lead Norman Bates. Rather than a disturbing horror like Alfred Hitchcockís timeless classic, Bates Motel is a bewildering thriller/fantasy concoction with very little merit in its premise or execution. For Hitchcock fans, itís a frustrating insult.

††† After the events of the first movie, Norman Bates (briefly played here by Kurt Paul) is sent to a mental asylum, where he meets troubled young boy Alex West (Bud Cort) who murdered his abusive stepfather. Norman takes Alex under his wing, essentially acting as his surrogate father. Coincidentally, Norman dies in the same year that Alex is set to be released, and Normanís will specifies that Alex is to inherit the Bates Motel as well as the nearby family home. Travelling to the rundown motel, Alex meets a plucky squatter named Willie (Lori Petty), who convinces Alex to let her hang around. Wanting to honour Norman, Alex becomes determined to renovate the old Bates Motel and re-open the establishment to the public. However, Alex begins to see a dark figure lurking around the residence who looks like Mrs. Bates, and things begin to happen which threaten Alexís dream.

††† Bates Motel ill-advisedly and inexplicably retcons the Psycho sequels, playing out as a direct follow-up to Hitchcockís Psycho. However, there are fundamental flaws and inconsistencies that cannot be ignored by anybody who has actually watched Psycho, let alone those who know it intimately. For instance, in Hitchcockís movie, the motel resides about fifteen miles outside of Fairvale, but in Bates Motel, the establishment is a half-mile away from ďFairville.Ē Worse, in the movies and in Robert Blochís Psycho novel, Normanís mother is named Norma, but all the characters here seem to think that Mrs. Batesí first name is Gloria. And while the construction crews are working on the motel here, they stumble upon the body of Mrs. Bates, which makes no sense since her body would have been properly laid to rest after being found in Hitchcockís movie. Unless Norman broke out of the asylum to specifically steal his motherís body again, just to bury it at the motel... See how none of this makes any sense? One has to seriously wonder if Rothstein has even seen the Hitchcock film - in all likelihood, he just read a brief plot outline of Psycho before working on his screenplay.

††† Bizarrely, Rothstein turns Bates Motel into a saccharine supernatural sitcom, with kind-hearted ghosts and no murders. Itís a peculiar knockoff of the likes of Twilight Zone and Fantasy Island, involving guests checking in where they confront their fears and emerge as a whole new person. Out of nowhere in the final act, a woman (played by Kerrie Keane) checks into the motel looking to commit suicide, but a group of deceased teens rise from the grave to have a í50s-style party and persuade her to change her mind. Jason Bateman even stars as one of the teens, and all the ghosts pay Alex to rent rooms in the motel. Despite the fact that this subplot is utterly ridiculous, the supernatural has never been part of the Psycho mythology; itís a tale about monsters within. By leaning on this crap, Bates Motel negates the very thing that made the original movie such a unique entity.

††† The only noticeable tie-in to Psycho is the Bates Motel setting (though itís renovated beyond all recognition), and the brief appearance of Norman, who isnít even played by Anthony Perkins. Worse, the majority of the movie is concerned with the hopelessly humdrum machinations involved in getting the motel up and running again, lacking the type of Hitchcockian suspense that should be omnipresent in a production like this. Even though ostensibly spooky things do happen, such sequences are not scary or unnerving, and climactic reveals fundamentally transform the entire enterprise into an episode of Scooby Doo. On this note, the movieís tone is all over the place, with irritating attempts at comedy - Willie is even introduced wearing a f***ing chicken costume. Itís an outrage to see such content in a Psycho spinoff, and the film even ends with Alex breaking the fourth wall, because TV.

††† Things were eventually set right in the Psycho universe with the release of Psycho IV: The Beginning in 1990, which ignores Bates Motel and exists in the same continuity as the other Psycho sequels. Thus, itís easy for fans of the Psycho film series to continue happily ignoring Bates Motel, which is in the same league as the Star Wars Holiday Special - a historical curiosity thatís probably better left unseen. Hell, even Anthony Perkins himself detested the film.

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Transfer Quality

Video

††† With its poor reputation, Bates Motel never received a proper DVD release, eventually being offered as a burn-on-demand title from Amazon. Understandably, the telemovie has not been properly remastered, sporting a DVD transfer that looks only slightly better than a VHS. This failed TV pilot is presented in full-frame 1.33:1, and it looks pretty shoddy.

††† According to IMDb, Bates Motel was shot on 35mm film stock, but it was presumably edited and completed on video, as was the case for most telemovies of this era. Therefore, if any HD presentation was to be possible, a team of editors would have to go back to the original camera negative and re-assemble the picture from scratch, which would cost a lot of money (assuming the negatives even still exist anymore). I do not expect such a lavish restoration to happen in my lifetime, or anybodyís lifetime, but since I do not plan to view this garbage ever again, it doesnít bother me too much.

††† Sharpness and detail are towards the lower end of the spectrum, with a frequently fuzzy-looking picture of bleeding colours and muddiness. Colours look mostly faded, with poor delineation in darker scenes, and a lack of true blacks. Artefacts dot the image; it really does look like a second or third-generation VHS tape, rather than a DVD. Indeed, even by DVD standards, Bates Motel looks slapdash, and thatís saying something.

††† This transfer borders on the unwatchable. Such an image would even be unacceptable for a YouTube video. But I suppose itís the best we will ever get. One cannot blame Via Vision for the poor quality of the video.

††† No subtitles are available.


Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

††† Bates Motel is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, as to be expected considering its television origins. The audio is about on par with expectations, which is to say itís serviceable but nothing special by any means. It does sound ancient, but at least dialogue is easy to hear throughout.

††† Do not expect any surround channel usage or separation, while the subwoofer is left with almost nothing to do. Bates Motel sounds the best that it ever will unless a restoration team re-assembles the movie from the ground upwards, which will never happen, so chalk up all the flaws and shortcomings to the source.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

††† No extras at all. Not even a disc menu. Inserting the DVD, the movie plays immediately, and thatís it.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

† † All DVD releases worldwide are identical. No extras, same shoddy presentation. Draw.

Summary

††† It's hard to defend Bates Motel, a miscalculated Psycho offshoot that is not essential viewing by any means. The DVD is pretty useless, sporting no extras and below-par video and audio. Skip it.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Monday, December 21, 2015
Review Equipment
DVDPlayStation 4, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 42LW6500. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationLG BH7520TW
SpeakersLG Tall Boy speakers, 5.1 set-up, 180W

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Psycho (Blu-ray) (1960) | Psycho II (Blu-ray) (1983) | Psycho III (Blu-ray) (1986) | Psycho IV: The Beginning (Blu-ray) (1990) | Psycho (1998) (Blu-ray) | Bates Motel (1987) | The Psycho Legacy (2010)

The Psycho Legacy (2010)

The Psycho Legacy (2010) (NTSC)

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Released 2-Dec-2015

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Deleted Scenes
Additional Footage-Extended Interviews
Interviews-Cast-Full panel discussion with Perkins
Featurette-PSYCHO reunion panel
Featurette-A tour of the Bates Motel
Featurette-Revisiting PSYCHO II
Featurette-Shooting PSYCHO II
Featurette-A visit with PSYCHO memorabilia collector Guy Thorpe
Featurette-PSYCHO on the Web
Gallery
Rating ?
Year Of Production 2010
Running Time 96:59
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Robert V. Galluzzo
Studio
Distributor
ViaVision Starring None Given
Case ?
RPI Box Music Jermaine Stegall


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

††† The production of Alfred Hitchcockís Psycho has been exhaustively documented, with the film having been given a lot of attention for its two-disc special edition DVD release. But each DVD release of the three Psycho sequels has been barebones, with no commentaries or featurettes to shed light on the productions. Thus, Psycho super-fan Robert Galluzzo became determined to fix this oversight, spearheading a documentary that ultimately became The Psycho Legacy. Universal were uninterested in the project, however, leaving Galluzzo to personally finance the project himself, though he was permitted to use stills and footage of all four Psycho movies. Itís not a perfect documentary, nor is it definitive in any way, but one does have to admire Galluzzoís tenaciousness, securing interviews with a variety of participants to piece together a fascinating documentation of the making of all four films.

††† The Psycho Legacy is broken down into four main segments, with each of the four Psycho films being explored in varying degrees of detail. Since the making of Hitchcockís film has been the subject of a number of documentaries, Galluzzo does not spend a great deal of time on the original Psycho, instead devoting the majority of the feature to uncharted territory. Reportedly, segments were created for 1987ís Bates Motel and the 1998 Psycho remake, but they were excised from the final edit and have disappeared entirely, not even featuring as DVD extras. Even though both productions are terrible by all accounts, it would still be fascinating to get some behind-the-scenes details of both projects, and some retrospective thoughts on them.

††† Galluzzo interviews a wide variety of participants, including many of Anthony Perkinsí co-stars, Psycho IV director Mick Garris, and a few Psycho enthusiasts. He also reaches into the vaults, digging up ancient video pieces with Richard Franklin and Anthony Perkins. Heartbreakingly, Franklin was slated to be interviewed in the early stages of the production (the project was announced in 2007), but the Australian filmmaker died before Galluzzo had the chance to get him in front of a camera. That is forgivable given the circumstances, but it is an issue that substantial airtime is given to a number of interviewees with no direct involvement in the films, and several key cast members are MIA. Indeed, itís a travesty that the likes of Meg Tilly and Roberta Maxwell are not on hand, as they would no doubt have provided more valuable insight. Psycho II cinematographer Dean Cundey does not even feature here, with all of his interview being relegated to a separate DVD extra.

††† The Psycho Legacy was released hot on the heels of the mind-bogglingly extensive, four-hour documentary about the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, Never Sleep Again. By comparison, this 90-minute Psycho documentary is a bit of a letdown, and it is hampered to an extent by its unmistakably amateurish construction. There is simply not enough visual flair, with the movie wearing its fan-made origins on its sleeve. Furthermore, as stated previously, Galluzzo does use interviews with fans a bit too often. While they occasionally impart interesting trivia, for the most part itís stuff you can read on Wikipedia on IMDb, and they often discuss their admiration for scenes, characters, or pieces of music. As a result, The Psycho Legacy does often feel like a fan video rather than a definitive behind-the-scenes look.

††† Taken as a standalone motion picture, The Psycho Legacy comes up short, though it does have some interesting production anecdotes to impart. For viewers who have seen all four Psycho films, and enjoy at least one or two of them, this documentary is worth seeing for the discussion of the often overlooked sequels.

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Transfer Quality

Video

††† Since this is a fan-made documentary, and it was produced before high definition video became so prevalent, one cannot expect much from DVD presentation. The Psycho Legacy is presented in...well, it differs - the interviews are full-frame 1.33:1, while film clips are non-anarmorphic 1.85:1, and the quality of the video does vary wildly. Thus, this is an inconsistent transfer, but one assumes most of the drawbacks are attributable to the source.

††† The big issue with this release is the ugly interlacing, which presumably comes as a result of the DVD being mastered in NTSC rather than Australian-standard PAL. Some displays might not suffer the problem, but on my computers, my LG 42Ē HD display, and the other Sony 42Ē HD TV in the house, the image is riddled with interlacing artefacts that makes it difficult to watch at times.

††† This aside, detail and sharpness is mediocre at best, though at least it does look on a par with a standard DVD, and is not VHS quality like 1987ís Bates Motel. Being a digital home-made documentary produced using consumer-standard equipment, the image doesnít stand up to close scrutiny either, with blockiness and even some moire patterns. Information about the documentaryís technical specs are hard to come by, but one assumes there was only so much that could be done.

††† The Psycho Legacy is watchable to a certain extent, more so on a smaller display, but it has dated quite substantially since its initial 2010 release. Itís also disappointing that there are no subtitles at all.


Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

††† Nobody should expect much from The Psycho Legacy on the audio front. Itís encoded with a very basic Dolby Digital 2.0 mono track, which is very paint-by-numbers and humdrum. No surround activity, and the subwoofer is pretty inactive due to the documentaryís nature. Some of the audio fares better than others, with some interviews that sound a bit muffled due to ambient noise in the background. But again, Galluzzo didnít exactly have a lavish studio in which to conduct his interviews.

††† It is what it is.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

††† Via Vision have ported over all of the supplemental material that was available on the Region 1 Shout! Factory DVD release of The Psycho Legacy. Itís pretty comprehensive, almost making up for how incomplete the documentary feels.

Disc 1

Deleted Scenes (SD)

††† A selection of deleted segments. Most of these are actually good value, and itís a mystery why some scenes were cut. These scenes can be played individually or via a ďPlay AllĒ function.

Extended Interviews (SD)

††† Some interview snippets which did not make the final cut. I found this material mostly worthwhile, particularly Pogueís idea for a Psycho IV, while Garrisí insight into Psycho IV could be a standalone Psycho IV extra in itself. Itís definitely worth going through these. The interviews can be watched individually, or via a ďPlay AllĒ function.

Disc 2

Anthony Perkins Q&A (SD; 42:00)

††† This is an absolute gem. Sound-bytes and video clips were used from this in the documentary itself, but this is the full thing, and itís extremely worthwhile. Filmed sometime in the late-Ď80s, before Psycho IV, Perkins stands in a crowded room answering questions and talking about aspects of his career. Naturally, the video quality is horrendous, as it was filmed with an Ď80s-era camcorder, and the composition is subpar, but itís nevertheless easy to hear everything that Perkins says. At a daunting 42 minutes, itís packed with information, including Perkinsí blunt opinion on the Bates Motel TV movie. Any Psycho fan should be glad to have this on the DVD, and should absolutely set aside the time to watch it.

Psycho Reunion Panel (SD; 6:37)

††† A short selection of sound-bytes from a 2008 Psycho reunion panel, set to images presumably taken from said panel. Not much of this stuff is new, but I wonít complain too much.

The Bates Motel Tour (SD; 2:33)

††† This was actually a MySpace video (yeah, remember MySpace?). This is much too short and the camerawork is often horrendous, but itís still a nice recent glimpse of the location.

Revisiting Psycho II (SD; 15:30)

††† This is a treat. Galluzzo sits down with writer Tom Holland and editor Andrew London to talk about Psycho II. Galluzzo has a big box of production items, including a copy of the script and a few posters, and his guests recall their memories of the movieís production, including auditions and the premiere. Thereís plenty of worthwhile insight here, making this a no-brainer for fans.

Shooting Psycho II (SD; 19:06)

††† Despite the decidedly amateurish presentation (including inconsistent audio and even the interview ostensibly ending at one stage), this extra is one of the real highlights of the set. This is a conversation with Dean Cundey (who is not featured in the Psycho Legacy documentary), the cinematographer on Psycho II. He speaks at length about pre-production and planning, before moving onto actual shooting and his thinking behind several impressive shots. Cundey is a master behind the camera, and itís a pleasure to hear him speak about his work.

A Visit with Psycho Memorabilia Collector Guy Thorpe (SD; 6:49)

††† Galluzzo visits Guy Thorpe, a die-hard Psycho memorabilia collector. His house is full of Psycho-related things, from posters to autographs to a piece of the Psycho house, and even the Mother prop from Psycho II. Thorpe also talks about how he came into possession of a number of the more notable items.

Norman Bates In Print: Robert Bloch Author of Psycho (SD; 12:28)

††† Essentially an extension of the documentary, this is a segment dedicated to Robert Bloch, with several interviewees discussing his works and the legacy that he left. Itís particularly interesting to hear about Blochís Psycho 2 novel.

Psycho On The Web (SD; 3:44)

††† A brief interview with Jay Allentoff, who runs thepsychomovies.com. This is an unexpectedly cool piece, with Allentoff talking about how the site got started, the positive reception it received, and the correspondence he has had with several cast and crew members from the Psycho series.

The Hyaena Gallery Presents Serial-Killer-Inspired Art (SD; 12:00)

††† This is a very niche segment to top off the package. Twelve minutes of interviews with artists whose artworks were inspired by serial killers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

† † The Psycho Legacy has been released on DVD in the United States by Shout! Factory, and our set is a direct port, with all the same extras. However, the documentary has seen a Blu-ray release over in Germany, flaunting a 1080i video presentation and DTS-HD 5.1 audio tracks in both German and English. Reviews are hard to come by, but reportedly the video is a SD upscale, so itís probably not worth the import. Draw.

Summary

††† The Psycho Legacy is not skilful enough to emerge as anything other than an informative minor extra that compliments the original Psycho, and the 94-minute documentary on the making of the Psycho. The DVD set itself is an essential buy for any Psycho fans, with a wealth of additional interviews and segments, as well as featurettes which serve as an extension of the documentary. It's definitely worthwhile, and it will take some time to chomp through.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Tuesday, December 22, 2015
Review Equipment
DVDPlayStation 4, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 42LW6500. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationLG BH7520TW
SpeakersLG Tall Boy speakers, 5.1 set-up, 180W

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