Dan Sartain's Guide To The Psycho Sequels

Proving that there's much more to the series than just Hitchcock, here the genre-bending rocker vents forth on the pros and cons of the films that followed the original slasher flick...
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Proving that there's much more to the series than just Hitchcock, here the genre-bending rocker vents forth on the pros and cons of the films that followed the original slasher flick...

DAN6


Dan Sartain is a rocker like no other.  With a career that has seen him morph from country crooner to garage-punk growler, his new album DUDESBLOOD contains 10 songs that take in screamo-drone and marimba funk, via UK anarcho-punk and hillbilly swing.  Pigeonhole it at your peril. 

The album concludes with a cover of Tony Perkin's 1957 hit 'Moonlight Swim', and with this in mind Dan described why he has so much love for the series that started in Bates Motel...

The Psycho series is very divisive, and one of the most beloved films of all time for good reason. Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho is one of the few times pop culture and good taste have collided to make a classic for the ages. So few films get every aspect of film making right the way Psycho did. Acting, editing, directing, script, and cinematography all aligned to make a perfect movie. Everybody knows how great Psycho is. It is the campy sequels, remakes, and TV shows that divide the audience. Let's concentrate on those.

PSYCHO II

This movie was originally intended to be made for TV. It feels like a TV movie. The original Bernard Herrmann score went unused in Psycho II & III. It wouldn't be until Psycho IV: The Beginning that we got to hear the famous Psycho theme once more. Thing is, Psycho IV was a made for TV movie, but it got the theatrical score right. Right off the bat, this makes Psycho II feel weird. I dunno if it was a creative decision to exclude the Psycho theme from this movie, or if they were unable to license the music for the soundtrack. Even if the Bernard Herrmann score was unavailable, they could have given it a better soundtrack than what it had. Richard Band and Stuart Gordon made a very convincing Psychoesque score for 1985's Re-Animator. Every movie should try to be a little more like Re-Animator, including Psycho II.

Made for TV soundtrack aside, Psycho II is pretty solid. If one can get past the whole pissing on a classic thing, it is a very watchable sequel. Anthony Perkins knows his character better than anyone, and he gives a memorable performance. Norman is just as likeable in this movie as he was in the original. Meg Tilly is equally great in her supporting role. The whole movie is schlock (in a good way) but Perkins and Tilly treat the material with respect and it pays off. Actors have to be 100% serious in order to really make a so-bad-it's-good kind of movie just that. If the actors know a movie is terrible, all is lost.


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PSYCHO III

If Psycho II got you over the phobia of the original Psycho being pissed on by an unworthy sequel, you are ready for Psycho III. It is a full on 80s slasher exploitation film. Psycho III is keeping up with the Joneses by amping up the bodycount and titties. Gone is the movie made for TV soundtrack of Psycho II. Now we have an 80s synth soundtrack, and it seems a lot more fitting for the trashy fun that is Psycho III. This soundtrack would be right at home today in a Nicolas Winding Refn movie.

The bad- Psycho III has a sloppy unsatisfying ending. It is the only film in the series to be a sequel to a sequel. Psycho II and Psycho IV: The Beginning are sequels to Psycho (1960). Psycho IV ignores parts II and III. Psycho III has the unfortunate task of reconnecting the twist ending of Psycho II. This leads to a lot of expository dialogue. Psycho III is still a great trashy movie, though,  and a worthy sequel.


PSYCHO IV: THE BEGINNING

Psycho III wasn't the box office draw that Psycho II was. This lead to Psycho IV being a made for TV movie. This is the least of the movies problems. Anthony Perkins still gives a great performance as Norman. The problem is, we don't have enough of Perkins in the movie. Most of the film is seen through a series of flashbacks with a much younger actor taking on the role made famous by Perkins.

Tony Perkins was a very private fellow. Half way through making Psycho III he was was diagnosed with the disease that would ultimately take his life. This must have effected the work flow of Psycho IV. Tony wanted to direct this movie, but after his directorial debut with Psycho III underperformed, the job was given to another director. [Mick Garris] The lack of Anthony Perkins in this film makes it the weakest in the series. Henry Thomas did all he could with the role of Norman Bates, but Perkins's shadow loomed too large for Thomas to show us what he had to offer.

DUDESBLOOD is released Monday 28th April, and is highly recommeded,  Get it here.