Saturday, August 17, 2013


Following through on the idea I had last week, I sat down and re-watched the three Psycho sequels for the first time in a long time. My brief thoughts on each one:

Psycho II (1983): Australian born director and long-time student of Hitchcock,
Richard Franklin was handed the unenviable task of following-up one of horror/suspense cinema’s all-time revered classics (not to mention a ground breaking piece of filmmaking in its own right). Anthony Perkins and Vera Miles return from the original, with Perkins having an instant grip on the character he had last played over two decades earlier. There’s some scares and a couple of good twists, and it’s the sequel that most captures the mood of the original, but the initially clever screenplay loses its way in the middle and rapidly unravels. Characters like Denis Franz’s scuzzy motel manager are pretty cliché, though Meg Tilly is wonderful and watching her you can’t help but wonder why she didn’t go on to have a more important/prolific career. Psycho II certainly doesn’t smear the name of the original, but I think Franklin’s earlier Patrick (1978) and Roadgames (1981) were more effective thrillers and more enjoyable homages to the Master of Suspense.

Psycho III (1986): Perkins agreed to return only if he was also able to direct. What he delivered was a direct follow-on from Psycho II that veered into slasher territory and started to establish Norman Bates as a Jason Vorhees/Michael Myers type specter. It’s also the sleaziest, most generic and least interesting entry in the series. Like the casting of Meg Tilly in Psycho II, Diane Scarwid (as an unstable nun who winds up at the Bates Motel) is an unconventional but pleasing choice as female lead.

Psycho IV: The Beginning (1990): Made for cable television, Psycho IV features a screenplay by original Psycho screenwriter Joseph Stefano, and sees the return of Bernard Hermann’s classic music cues. Both a sequel and prequel in nature, the film ignores many of the plot points of the previous two films, with the freed Norman Bates living in a nice house and married to his former nurse. Cooking dinner while waiting for his wife to come home one night, Norman calls in to a female disc jockey (C C H Pounder), who is discussing the topic of killer kids. Illustrated through a series of flashback sequences (with young Bates being played by Henry ‘E.T.’ Thomas), Norman tells the DJ about the key events of his youth which led to his murderous career, and indicates that he may not be completely cured after all. Olivia Hussey plays Norman’s hysterical and sexually unbalanced mother. With a bit more polish on the screenplay and a theatrical budget, this could have been a much better film, but even as is it is the most interesting of the three sequels, and watching it I got the sense that Anthony Perkins knew he was saying a final goodbye to his most infamous character (he died of complications from AIDS two years later).

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


Recently completed my latest model kit project: Polar Light's replica of the Bates home from Psycho (1960). I pretty much built the kit as it came, with the addition of the tree and some shrubs to give it an extra element of decay and creepiness.


A peek at my article on King Kong memorabilia, coming up in the next issue of Collectables Trader magazine...



Finally got around to reading local writer Kate Holden's 2005 memoir In My Skin recently. Recounting the years in the 1990s that she spent as a heroin user and St. Kilda streetwalker, the book is certainly well-written and at times a pretty engrossing read, with some moments of real eloquence. I think Holden often uses her strong descriptive talents as a substitute for saying anything really meaningful, and I felt the horrors of her life were not depicted powerfully enough to have a whole lot of emotional impact, but it is certainly a brave way for a new young writer to introduce herself to the world.