Psycho II (film)

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Psycho II
Psycho ii.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Richard Franklin
Produced by Hilton A. Green
Bernard Schwartz
Written by Tom Holland
Starring Anthony Perkins
Vera Miles
Robert Loggia
Meg Tilly
Music by Jerry Goldsmith
Cinematography Dean Cundey
Editing by Andrew London
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release dates
  • June 3, 1983 (1983-06-03)
Running time 113 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget US$5 million[2]
Box office US$34,725,000[3]

Psycho II is a 1983 American psychological horror slasher film directed by Richard Franklin and written by Tom Holland. It is the first sequel to Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho and second film in the Psycho series. It stars Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles, Robert Loggia, and Meg Tilly. The original music score was composed by Jerry Goldsmith.

The film did well financially[quantify] (leading to two further sequels) and moderately well critically.[quantify] Roger Ebert noted that the film worked hard to sustain the suspenseful atmosphere of the original.[4] The film was followed by Psycho III (1986) and Psycho IV: The Beginning (1990).

It is unrelated to the 1982 novel Psycho II by Robert Bloch, which he wrote as a sequel to his original novel Psycho.

Psycho II takes place 22 years after the first film, Norman Bates is released from the mental institution and returns to the house and Bates Motel to continue a normal life. However, it soon becomes apparent that his past is going to continue to haunt him.


Norman Bates is released from a mental institution after spending 22 years in confinement. Lila Loomis, sister of Marion Crane vehemently protests but is dismissed. Norman is taken back to his old home behind the Bates Motel by Dr. Bill Raymond and introduced to the motel's new manager, Warren Toomey.

The following day, Norman reports to a prearranged job as a dishwasher and busboy at a nearby diner, run by a kindly old lady named Emma Spool. One of his co-workers is Mary Samuels, a young waitress. After work, she claims she has been thrown out of her boyfriend's place and needs a place to stay. Norman offers to let her stay at the motel, then extends the offer to his home when he discovers that Toomey has turned the motel into a sleazy adult motel. He fires Toomey on the spot.

Toomey picks a fight with him at the diner, follows him back to the motel, and drunkenly rants that he's moving out. A human figure in a black dress walks in, slashes his face, and stabs him to death with a large kitchen knife. Norman has been receiving phone calls and notes from someone claiming to be his mother; as he redecorates his motel, he spots a human figure, resembling his mother, staring out his mother's bedroom window. He runs into the room to find it looks exactly as it did twenty-two years ago. A sound lures him to the attic, where he is locked in.

A teenage couple, believing the house to be abandoned, sneaks in through the cellar window and make out. They are frightened by a human female figure dressed in black and wielding a large kitchen knife. As they try to climb back out the cellar window, the boy is trapped and stabbed to death. The girl escapes and alerts the police. Mary eventually finds Norman in the attic, but the door is locked. The sheriff arrives and questions them about the boy's murder. He finds the cellar neat and orderly; Mary claims that she has cleaned it herself. After the sheriff leaves, she explains that she had to save him from being arrested; Norman worries that he's slipping into insanity again.

That evening, Mary goes down to the motel and is surprised by Lila, who reveals herself to be Mary's mother and the one who has been calling Norman. She restored his mother's room, posed in the window until Norman saw her, and locked him in the attic, all in an attempt to drive him insane again and have him recommitted. Though initially an accomplice, Mary is beginning to regret her involvement, which annoys Lila.

Norman and Mary find a bloody cloth that has been stuffed down the toilet. Norman appears confused and believes he may have committed another murder. Mary tells Norman it could not have been him as he was in the attic, and to make them both a drink. As Mary cleans up the mess, she is startled by someone looking at her through a peephole in the bathroom wall. She screams and then calls out to Norman, who is downstairs. Mary fetches her gun from her room, enters Norman's mother's bedroom, and finds the peephole behind a painting. There is someone else staring at her through the bathroom wall. Norman rushes to her aid, but the figure disappears.

Norman goes downstairs into the kitchen, grabs a butcher knife for protection, and sneaks into the hallway to search for the intruder. As he walks towards the stairs, he hears a faint voice calling his name from the cellar. He runs into Mary's room and locks the door to protect her from his mother. Mary tells him his mother is dead; Norman states he was wrong and that she is alive. Mary, who herself thinks Lila is tormenting him, tries to convince him to confront her, but Norman refuses, claiming it is too dangerous, and tells her that he will protect her through the night.

Meanwhile, Dr. Raymond discovers Mary's identity as Lila's daughter and informs Norman. He also orders the corpse of Norma Bates (which was buried in a proper grave after the events of the original film) to be exhumed, to prove that Norman is not being haunted by his mother. Mary admits to Norman that she has been part of Lila's ruse, and that while she now refuses to continue, Lila will not stop. Mary goes to Lila's hotel and tells her to leave Norman alone, mentioning the bloodied cloth and the peephole. Lila states her innocence, claiming she returned to her hotel after seeing Mary and their argument is overheard by a desk clerk. Lila tells Mary to dress up as "Mother" one last time to send him over the edge, which she refuses. Later, Lila drives over to Norman's house, unaware that Dr. Raymond is watching her from the Bates Motel as she sneaks into the cellar.

While removing her "Mother" costume from a loose stone in the floor, another human figure dressed as "Mother" steps out of the shadows and shoves a knife into Lila's mouth. Dr. Raymond runs up to the house; Lila's body is not in the cellar and the "Mother" figure is gone. Norman enters the cellar and Dr. Raymond tells him about Lila and leaves the house to try and prove to Norman that Mary and Lila are the ones tormenting him. Meanwhile, Mary discovers that a car has been retrieved from the swamp, stunk with Toomey's dead body in the trunk. Realizing the police will shortly arrive to arrest Norman, Mary returns to warn him hysterically. The phone rings in the house. Norman answers, and starts speaking to his "mother" but it's actually Dr. Raymond who is calling Norman from the motel parlour telling him Lila used the office phone to place the calls but Norman believes he is still talking to his "mother". Mary listens in and discovers that nobody is on the line with Norman.

Terrified that Norman has slipped back into insanity, Mary runs downstairs into the cellar and quickly dresses up as Mother to confront Norman and arms herself with a large butcher knife. She picks up the phone and tells Norman she's his mother and tells him to hang up. Dr. Raymond sneaks up and grabs her from behind as she is on top of the stairs calling out for Norman. She screams and plunges the knife into Dr. Raymond as he falls down the stairs to his death as the knife squishes into him further. A stunned Mary runs downstairs and is confronted by a completely deranged Norman, who promises to cover up for "Mother." A fearful Mary grabs the knife out of Dr. Raymond's body and warns Norman to stay away from her. Norman keeps walking towards her even after being repeatedly stabbed in the hands and chest. He backs Mary into the fruit cellar to hide and slips on a pile of coal, which avalanches away from the wall, revealing Lila's body hidden behind it. A shocked Mary is now convinced that Norman has been committing the murders. Norman denies doing any of the killings and thinks "Mother" committed them. She raises her knife to stab him but is shot dead by one of the incoming police deputies. The sheriff inaccurately places a story to the authorities believing Mary committed all the murders and killed Lila to protect Norman. That evening, a woman walks up the steps to the Bates' mansion. Bandaged from his injuries, Norman has set a place for dinner when he hears a knock at the door. It is Emma Spool, the kindly woman from the diner.

Norman gives her a cup of tea. Mrs. Spool tells him that she is his real mother, that Mrs. Bates was her sister, who adopted Norman as an infant while Mrs. Spool was institutionalized. She further reveals that she was the murderer, having killed anybody who tried to harm her son. As she sips the tea, Norman kills her with a sudden blow to the head with a shovel. Norman is now completely insane again. He carries Mrs. Spool's body upstairs to Mother's room and we hear Mother's voice warn Norman not to play with "filthy girls". Norman reopens the Bates Motel and stands in front of the house, waiting for new customers. Thunder is heard and Mother watches from the window upstairs.



In 1982, author Robert Bloch published his novel Psycho II, which satirized Hollywood slasher films. Upset by this, Universal decided to make their own version that differed from Bloch's work.[5] Originally, the film was intended as a made-for-cable production.[6] Anthony Perkins originally turned down the offer to reprise the role of Norman Bates, but when the studio became interested in others (including Christopher Walken), Perkins quickly accepted.[7] The studio also wanted Jamie Lee Curtis (daughter of Psycho star Janet Leigh) to play the role of Mary Loomis.[7]

Director Richard Franklin was hired to direct Psycho II because he was a Hitchcock student[citation needed] and even visited him on the set of Topaz,[citation needed] and because a year earlier, Franklin made a film called Roadgames starring Lee Curtis which was influenced by Hitchcock's 1954 film Rear Window.[citation needed] Franklin hired writer Tom Holland to write the screenplay after Franklin had seen The Beast Within, which Holland had written.[citation needed] Holland stated: "I approached it with more trepidation because I was doing a sequel to Psycho and I had an overwhelming respect for Hitchcock. You didn't want to mess it up, you really had almost a moral obligation to make something that stayed true to the original and yet updated it the same time. It really was the next step, what happens when Norman gets out".[this quote needs a citation]

Hilton A. Green, assistant director of the original Psycho, was contacted and asked if he wanted to produce the film. Green, fearing that Hitchcock may not have approved of sequels to his films, called Hitchcock's daughter Patricia Hitchcock and asked what she thought of the film.[citation needed] Patricia Hitchcock gave her blessing to the film; saying that her father would have loved it.[need quotation to verify]


Principal photography of Psycho II at Universal Studios in Universal City, California on Stage 24 from June 30-August 1982.[6] The Bates house set was still standing from 1960, but the motel had to be reconstructed.[6] According to Richard Franklin, filming lasted 32 days.[this quote needs a citation] The film was made much like the first film.[original research?] It was mostly shot on the Universal backlot and in a number of sound stages.[citation needed] Several props and set pieces from the original film were found by set designers John W. Corso and Julie Fletcher.[citation needed] The town of Fairvale (seen when Lila Loomis is tailed by Dr. Raymond) is actually Courthouse Square, which is located on the Universal Studios backlot in California.[original research?]

Both Franklin and Holland wanted the film to be a tribute to Alfred Hitchcock and the original film.[citation needed] To accomplish this, they added in various in jokes such as the scene when Mary and Norman first go into Norman's mother's room, before they turn the lights on, you can see Alfred Hitchcock's silhouette on the wall to the far right. Franklin also repeated various shots from the original film such as the shot where Norman walks into the kitchen and sets his jacket down on the chair. The final pages of the shooting script with the ending on it weren't distributed to cast and crew until the last day of filming.[citation needed]

The last shot of the film with Norman standing in front of the house was used as a Christmas card for various crew members.[citation needed] When Universal presented concept art for the one sheet film poster, director Franklin was not pleased with it.[citation needed] It was editor Andrew London who came up with the idea of using the Christmas card photo as the film poster and also came up with the tagline: "It's 22 years later and Norman Bates is coming home".[citation needed]


Film composer Jerry Goldsmith was hired to write the music for the film. Goldsmith was a long time friend of "Psycho" film composer Bernard Herrmann. On some film assignments Goldsmith would discover that the director had used some of Herrmann's music from other films as temporary soundtracks. Goldsmith would often joke when he discovered this ("Not Benny again!")[8]


When the film opened on June 3, 1983, it earned $8,310,244 in its opening weekend at #2 (behind Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi) and went on to gross about $34,725,000.[3][6]

Critical reception[edit]

Psycho II was received generally well by the public and critics and was a surprise box office success.[vague] However, film critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert both gave the film a marginal thumbs down on At the Movies, specifically for its failure to live up to the original.[citation needed] "I think the ghost of the original," said Siskel, "obviously hangs over this movie, and it's too bad because it's a nicely made picture."[this quote needs a citation] Ebert wrote of the film: "If you've seen Psycho a dozen times and can recite the shots in the shower scene by heart, Psycho II is just not going to do it for you. But if you can accept this 1983 movie on its own terms, as a fresh start, and put your memories of Hitchcock on hold, then Psycho II begins to work. It's too heavy on plot and too willing to cheat about its plot to be really successful, but it does have its moments, and it's better than your average, run-of-the-mill slasher movie."[4]

In the British magazine Empire, film critic Kim Newman gave the film three out of five stars, calling Psycho II "a smart, darkly-comic thriller with some imaginative twists", writing, "The wittiest dark joke is that the entire world wants Norman to be mad, and ‘normality’ can only be restored if he’s got a mummified mother in the window and is ready to kill again." [9]

Home media[edit]

Psycho II has been released four times on DVD. The initial release came in 1999 when Universal Studios leased the film out to GoodTimes Home Video.[10] This release is currently out of print. The second release came in 2005 from Universal itself.[11] The third release came in 2007 as part of a triple feature package with Psycho III and Psycho IV: The Beginning.[12] Shout Factory, under their Scream Factory logo, released Psycho II on DVD & Blu-Ray on September 24, 2013 under their "Collector's Edition" line-up.

On May 8, 2013, RiffTrax released a VOD of the film featuring a running, mocking, commentary from the site's usual hosts (Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett, and Kevin Murphy of MST3K fame.) Many comments focused on the film's lack of living up to the original and the implausibility of the multiple-murder Norman Bates making it back into society and being largely welcomed.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "PSYCHO II (18)". United International Pictures. British Board of Film Classification. April 29, 1983. Retrieved August 23, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Psycho II". The Psycho Movies. Retrieved June 30, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b "Psycho II (1983)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved August 23, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b "Psycho II :: :: Reviews". Retrieved 2012-06-07. 
  5. ^ "Interviews - From Psycho to Asylum: The Horror Films of Robert Bloch". The Unofficial Robert Bloch Website. Retrieved 2009-08-15. 
  6. ^ a b c d "A Boy's Best Friend - Psycho 2". Retrieved 2012-06-07. 
  7. ^ a b "Eric's Time Capsule: Psycho II (June 3, 1983)". Retrieved 2012-06-07. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Empire's Psycho II Movie Review". Retrieved 2012-06-07. 
  10. ^ "Psycho II (DVD)". Retrieved 2011-04-17. 
  11. ^ "Psycho II (DVD)". Retrieved 2011-04-17. 
  12. ^ "Psycho II / Psycho III / Psycho IV: The Beginning (Triple Feature)". Retrieved 2011-04-17. 
  13. ^

External links[edit]