Next week brings the Blu-ray debut of Psycho II and Psycho III, two 1980s horror films that had the gall, the downright temerity, to follow up Hitchcock’s groundbreaking horror classic. But here’s the thing about these movies: they’re not half bad. There’s no denying that the vast majority of sequels are both unnecessary and terrible, less continuations of stories or honest entertainments than filmed deals. But it’s also unfair to paint all follow-ups with that broad brush; there are a fair number of sequels that are far better than their reputations would have you believe.
Following up an iconic horror classic is no easy task — particularly 23 years after the original, which changed the game for modern horror filmmaking. When Psycho II was released in 1983, purists seemed mostly upset by the mere idea of its existence — who the hell was this Richard Franklin person, and how dare he attempt to top Hitchcock? But taken on its own terms, as an affectionate tribute, it works. Anthony Perkins, try as he might, had been so unforgettable as Norman Bates that audiences were unable to see him as anyone else. But there’s no defeat in his performance here, merely an opportunity to dig deeper into Norman’s troubled psyche. And Vera Miles is equally enjoyable, reprising her role of Lila Crane (now Loomis).