Psycho II (1983)
|Year Of Production||1983|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Language Select Then Menu|
|Region Coding||2,4,5||Directed By||Richard Franklin|
Universal Pictures Home Video
Robert Alan Browne
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960) is a seminal film classic. An astounding commercial and critical success, the ground-breaking film changed the course of movie-making, and ushered in a new era of film violence and horror. A movie indelibly stamped on our collective movie-going subconscious, Psycho entered the dominion of pop-culture, and the famous shower scene has been imitated in countless films such as Brian De Palma's Dressed To Kill, and parodied by everyone from Mel Brooks in High Anxiety to the characters of The Simpsons. This movie was always going to be a tough act to follow, but in 1983, Universal Studios released Psycho II. While slavishly imitating the style of the first film, Psycho II has none of Hitchcock's tension or quirkiness. As Gus Van Sant's 1998 remake of Psycho proved, imitating Hitchcock's camera angles does not make a Hitchcock film.
I found it interesting that three of the landmark horror films are all inspired by the same person. The villains of Psycho, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Silence of the Lambs all find their inspiration in a completely gross individual named Ed Gein.
"Gein was elsewhere when the law came to call. Schley and his officers lighted the way with kerosene lamps and flashlights; the old house was only partly jerry-wired for electricity. The lawmen picked their way through a rat's nest of browning newspapers, pulp magazines, anatomy books, embalming supplies, food cartons, tin cans, and random debris. Upstairs five empty rooms slept under blankets of dust; by contrast, the bedroom of Gein's late mother and living room, both nailed shut, were kept pristine.
Raking the rubble of Gein's kitchen and bedroom, the officers uncovered sights for which no highway wreck or Saturday night special shoot-em-up had prepared them. Grinning, loose-toothed Ed Gein did not live alone, after all. Sharing his abode were two shin bones. Two pairs of human lips on a string. A cupful of human noses that sat on the kitchen table. A human skin purse and bracelets. Four flesh-upholstered chairs. A tidy row of grimacing human skulls. A tom-tom rigged from a quart can with skin stretched across the top and bottom. A soup bowl fashioned from an inverted human half-skull. The eviscerated skins of four women's faces, rouged, made-up, and thumbtacked to the wall at eye level. Five 'replacement' faces in plastic bags. Ten female heads, hacked off at the eyebrow. A rolled up pair of leggins and skin vest, including the mammaries, severed from another unfortunate.
In the adjacent smokehouse shed, police found what they would later identify as having once been Bernice Worden. Nude, headless, dangling by the heels, she had been disembowelled like a steer. Sitting atop a pot-bellied stove in an adjacent kitchen was a pan of water in which floated a human heart. The freezer compartment of the refrigerator was stocked with carefully wrapped human organs". (Taken from Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho by Stephen Rebello, 1992).
Gein dressed up in his mother's skin and face, but this was considered far too revolting for Robert Bloch's 1959 novel, Psycho. Bloch adapted the real story so that his character, Norman Bates, rather dressed up in his mother's clothes to do his killing. Of course in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Silence of the Lambs, the characters of Leatherface and Buffalo Bill have no such qualms. Bloch did write a sequel to his hit novel, Psycho, but that story was ignored for the film sequel, which was written by veteran horror script-writer, Tom Holland (who also appears in a small role as Deputy Norris).
"Norman Bates is Coming Home"
In Psycho II, Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) has been released from an institution after twenty two years of treatment. Having been found not guilty for the murders of seven people, based on a defence of insanity, it is now believed that Bates has been rehabilitated, and should be returned to the community. Bates first begins work at a roadside diner, where he meets and befriends Mary (Meg Tilly). This begins the awkward romance of the movie. However, Bates finds that some in the community will not let him forget his past, such as his annoying and crass Motel Manager, Toomey (Dennis Franz), and the snooping and pushy Lila (Vera Miles), the sister of one of Bates' victims.
Bates returns to work at his infamous motel, but soon strange notes and phone calls start to appear and Norman becomes "confused" again. It's then only a matter of time before that wig, dress, and butcher's knife come out . . .
The quality of the transfer is quite disappointing, and resembles a VHS tape. It is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and I suspect that it is open matte.
The sharpness is acceptable, but the shadow detail is very poor throughout, such as the complete lack of detail at 98:44. The colour is a little too dark and the print appears aged. The skin tones are a little orange.
In regard to MPEG artefacts, the entire movie appears both grainy and pixelated. Film-to-video artefacts appear as some slight aliasing, such as the shimmer on the blinds at 43:06. Film artefacts appear throughout. While most are small, some are large and distracting.
There are sixteen sets of subtitles present, and the English ones are simplified but accurate. This is a dual-layered disc, and I did not spot the layer change.
The quality of the audio is adequate.
There are five audio options on this DVD: English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s), French Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s), German Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s), Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s), and Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s).
The dialogue quality and audio sync are acceptable.
The original musical score is credited to the very talented Jerry Goldsmith, and it is suitably creepy and atmospheric. Naturally, some of Bernard Herrmann's astounding score for Psycho also features.
The surround mix is very front-heavy and limited, but there are some moments of surround activity, such as the rain through the rears at 14:41. In regards to the LFE track, I did not hear anything of any great value from the subwoofer throughout.
|Surround Channel Use|
There are no extras.
A very simple static and silent menu.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
Psycho II was released on DVD in Region 1 in January, 1999.
The Region 4 DVD misses out on:
The Region 1 DVD misses out on:
It seems that the R4 disc is the clear winner here.
Comparisons are inevitable, and this sequel has none of the style or substance of the original film, but is acceptable to watch, if only for nostalgic reasons.
The video quality is disappointing, and resembles a VHS video.
The audio quality is very limited in its presence.
There are no extras.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-535, using S-Video output|
|Display||Grundig Elegance 82-2101 (82cm, 16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Sony STR DE-545|
|Speakers||Sony SS-V315 x5; Sony SA-WMS315 subwoofer|