Monday, April 23, 2012

ZAM Book Review: Psycho II

My current Psycho obsession started with a podcast I listened to celebrating Hitchcock's legendary film.  The commentators talked a lot about the excellent documentary The Psycho Legacy.  If you haven't seen it I recommend you check out.  It will make you want to sit down and watch all the Psycho films.  I have enjoyed all of them.  None of the sequels reach the heights of Hitch's original, but they are enjoyable in their own way. 

A few months ago I read Robert Bloch's Psycho for the first time.  You can read my review here.  It was recommended to me (by Jonny Metro over at the excellent Midnite Media) that I read the sequel, Psycho II.  Written in 1982, a year before the film sequel was released, Psycho II is one dark, twisted little tale with more in common with such films a The Player than Richard Franklin's sequel.  Rumor has it that Bloch was pissed the studio was moving forward with a Psycho sequel without him.  Bloch decided to write his own sequel, which Universal hated and allegedly tried to squash.  Bloch got the last laugh when his novel became a big success. 

It is no surprise that Psycho II is actually a satire of the film industry.  It starts out as a traditional horror.  We meet up with Norman Bates many years after the original murders.  He is in an institution, and supposedly functioning as a normal human being.  Hollywood producers are planning on making a film about the original murders entitled Crazy Lady.  They have contacted the institution where Norman lives in the name of "research."

When the opportunity presents itself, Norman makes his escape from the asylum with the intention of getting revenge on Lila Crane and Sam Loomis, now married and trying to move on with their lives.  A bloodbath ensues (with the added bonus of nun rape) before we finally make it out to Hollywood and the set of Crazy Lady.  Convinced that Norman is behind this new rash of murders and that he is on his way to kill everyone in Hollywood (is that really such a bad idea?) Dr. Claiborne, Norman's chief Doctor, hits the road to try to stop him. 

This is the point where the novel turns into a "Playeresque" type satire.  With the exception of a cat murder, there is not much carnage until the final, shocking end.  And the end was shocking because I did not see it coming.

I can see why Universal didn't want to use Bloch's story.  Our hero, Norman, is really hardly in it.  I don't think Anothony Perkins would have appreciated a cameo role in his own franchise.  I did like the book, although not as much as I liked the film sequel.  I felt the film story was better, and better served Norman.  Plus, I love Tony Perkins.  How could you not?  And I am so glad at some point a "good wife turned his life around" (snicker, snicker). 

I am really looking forward to seeing the upcoming film Alfred Hitchcock and the making of Psycho.  The cast is sick!  Ralph Macchio is in it!!  Yeah Karate Kid!!  Enjoy Anthony Hopkins as Alfred Hitchcock.

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