Wednesday, October 13, 2010

31 days, 31 faves: Psycho II

I don't think it's any secret that I am a huge lover of all things Psycho (the film, that it. Nut jobs can steer clear!) I've written about the subject several times for several sites and here on my own paltry blog. Not only is the original Psycho the wonder of all wonders for me, but I happen to be thoroughly captivated by the sequel as well. Now, there are two more in the series after this one, and being such an appreciative Psycho fan, I enjoy them all - but shall I just say this one really does it for me.

I saw it at the drive in way back in 1984, and consider it one of the better sequels made. Period.

Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins, who else?) is finally out of the slammer. After 22 years he has been deemed mentally sane and fit for release. His shrink, Dr. Raymond (Robert Loggia) is happy as a clam, congratulates him and swears everything will be alright. (That's what they all say!) Meanwhile, causing a ruckus in the courtroom is Lila Loomis, sister of Marion Crane - the shower victim from the first film, if I really have to tell you. Lila is damn sure everything is not going to be peachy keen. She rants to the judge about her misgivings but he isn't hearing it. Even when she provides a petition (signed by 743 people!) the judge basically just waves her away.

Let's talk about Lila for a second. First of all, she could only get 743 signatures? I mean, if you were really trying to prevent a guy from being released back into mainstream society wouldn't you have tried to do better than that? Why didn't she launch a Facebook campaign? That's really the way to go. Oh yeah, 'cause it was 1983 and it didn't exist. Still, I think if there was a chance someone like say, Ted Bundy could have been let go, don't you think - and I really don't think I'm going out on a limb here - more than 743 people would give a shit? Folks would be driving in from out of town to sign that thing. They'd have it at every church in America. Hell, Bundy's cellmate probably would have signed it!
I digress...
Anyway, Lila. And what is up with her being a Loomis? So she mourned her dead sister so much that she married Marion's boyfriend? Wasn't he putting Marion off due to pressure from his ex-wife? Lila must have cashed in a nice life insurance policy on Marion to have obviously taken care of Sam's money woes. Hmpf!

Moving on...
Dr. Raymond gets Norman a job at the local diner, where he meets Mrs. Spool (owner of said diner who believes in giving Norman a chance because it's just the Christian thing to do). He also befriends a hapless waitress named Mary, who has boyfriend troubles and is heard arguing on the phone with him. Later as they leave for the night, Norman overhears Mary fighting with the dolt she lives with yet again. Seems he's thrown her out, so conveniently Norman invites her to stay in his motel. It takes some doing, but she finally agrees.

Unfortunately, the Bates Motel has become a den of drugs and ill-repute run by the swarmy Mr. Toomey (Dennis Franz at his sleazy best). After a heated argument Norman tells Mary to wait for him at the house while he takes care of things. At first hesitant, she again agrees and leaves.
A few moments later Norman arrives, stating he fired Mr. Toomey (who we can hear yelling obscenities towards the house).

When Norman fixes a sandwich for them, Mary asks him for a knife. Stuttering fabulously through the sentence Norman exclaims that he forgot to bring any c-c-cutlery. (Love that!)

But Mary finds a knife in the drawer and hands it to him. When his nerves are blatantly showing, Mary becomes wary and questions him if he is okay. He states that he is, but Mary's appetite is squashed like a bug, and she says she's going to take a shower and go to bed.
A shower!? Really? You've simply GOT to be joking here.
But she's not. Off to the shower she goes, and we're privy to someone watching her through the peephole. Nice. Wonder who?

Next day and we're back at the diner. Mary tells Norman she's going to stay with a friend in town, even though she appreciates the offer to stay with him.
Suddenly Norman seems to be getting messages on the order wheel from his dead mother. Thinking it's Toomey (who's come in to make a ridiculous scene and pinch a few asses), Norman loses his cool and gets sent home.

That evening, Mary shows back up, saying she's taking him up on the offer to board there because her roomie in town has a boyfriend who she can't stop having loud sex with. Yeah, that would be a bit distracting.
Norman then gets a phone call from who he thinks is his mother. Naturally Mary tells him it's just old ghosts. But fear has begun to creep back into Norman's psyche and that night he and Mary spend the night (no hanky panky) in his old bedroom for fear of "Mother".

Not that things get any better. Norman begins to get notes from Mother at home, and after one of the infamous phone calls, Mary dashes from the house. We then witness her down at the motel, talking to Lila Loomis. Seems Mary and Lila know each other.

And then Toomey ends up on the wrong side of a knife as well when an old woman in a black dress is seen taking him out.
Meanwhile, Norman gets himself locked in the attic as a teenage couple sneaks into the basement (and into that wonderful fruit cellar) for some afternoon nookie. Hmm....why would you do that? Seriously. Especially when you know the history of the house and in particular the FRUIT CELLAR! Well, the woman in black finds those two as well.
Will people never learn?

When Mary comes back and finds Norman in the attic (though now the door isn't locked), she covers for him when the police come calling. But Norman starts to doubt his innocence, and starts babbling about the notes and calls coming from his "real" mother. Stating that the woman he poisoned and buried was not his true mother, he seems to have clearly went off the deep end.

What we don't know as viewers, is if Norman is truly going psycho again or if he is being framed under suspicious circumstances. By the end of the film that is all cleared up and we are given a really swell yet somewhat surprising ending which I don't want to give away here.

Perkins had always commented that he was stereotyped after playing Bates, but he seemed to embrace it rather than begrudge it. I don't believe anyone else could possibly portray the character in the same perfect way he does (I'm talking to you, Vince Vaughn). The stuttering, nervousness he gave to Norman sets him apart, he's just so believable. And the worst part about the legacy of Norman Bates is most certainly that he looks just like the boy next door.
Yeah, the mama's boy.

Check out more about Psycho II in the upcoming new retrospective, THE PSYCHO LEGACY, which is out on October 19th!!


Cinema Du Meep said...

I heart Psycho II. Nice write up!

James said...

I simply KNEW it was only a matter of time before you turned your attention to this one. I haven't seen Psycho II in a long time, but all your recent Psycho related write-ups have given me a hankering to see it. I think I recall the twist - and I vaguely remember the third and fourth instalments. And a TV movie called Bates Motel! Norman's former cellmate inherits the motel and Lori Petty helps him fix it up...

Anyway! Another great post. I take exception to just one thing: your blog is far from paltry.

Mother! Blood!

Christine Hadden said...

Thanks Cinema Du Meep!!

And James, you know me too well...
Ahh..Bates Motel - ha! Can't believe you saw that too!

(And thanks for saying the blog isn't paltry... now how do we do this money conversion thing between our two fine countries? I owe you that fee we discussed...)