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13. Psycho II (1983)

Director: Richard Franklin
Stars: Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles, Meg Tilly, Robert Loggia, Dennis Franz

In 1983, there were few souls braver than director Richard Franklin and screenwriter Tom Holland. Showing off their huge cojones, the duo tackled one of the riskiest and most seemingly unnecessary sequels imaginable: a follow-up to Alfred Hitchcock’s flawless, beloved, and genre-defining horror classic Psycho (1960). Was it a terrible idea in theory? You bet your ass it was, and it’s perfectly understandable if the film’s title alone invokes apathy or fury in the minds of Hitchcock followers.

Having said all of that, Franklin’s and Holland’s resulting film, Psycho II, is the ultimate pleasant surprise. Catching up with Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) 22 years after his Psycho murder spree, the sequel focuses more on Bates than Hitchcock’s movie, which used Perkins’ character as a crucial supporting player.

Psycho II finds Bates questioning his sanity while back in the mansion where he stashed “mother’s” body, and Franklin makes great use of the familiar location, holding his camera on the iconic locations from Hitch’s flick (the shower, the fruit cellar) as an anticipation-grinder for viewers steeped in the ’68 film’s imagery. It’s an unlikely triumph, no question.

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