Sunday, July 22, 2012

Watched the Psycho double-bill this-afternoon at the Mayfair. Psycho is of course unarguably a cinematic classic, and is one of my favourite movies of all times. It's one of those movies that you wish you could walk into right after you zapped yourself with one of those Men In Black mind-erase devices. I can barely imagine what it would have been like to walk into this movie back in 1960, without the knowledge of all the twists and turns about to un-spool in front of you up on the big screen. Like Citizen Cane and Old Yeller and Empire Strikes Back and The Crying's one of those movies that by now we pretty much collectively know the surprise. None-the-less, even knowing every single thing that is going to happen, even after repeat viewings, it never stops being edge-of-your-seat entertainment.

The real pleasant surprise in a Psycho / Psycho II double-bill is that the sequel is really quite good. Despite the rampant complaint that movies are nothing but sequels and remakes and re-imaginings, people seem to forget that unoriginality really isn't anything new. In 1983, the year that Psycho II hit theatres, other unoriginal fare included: Jaws 3-D, Porky's II, Smokey & the Bandit 3, The Sting II, Superman III, Twilight Zone, Strange Brew (spun off from SCTV), Sudden Impact (another Dirty Harry film), and the biggest film of the year, Return of the Jedi.

Especially when undertaking a sequel to one of the most respected and famous films ever made, it's nice to see that those involved actually make some effort at telling a good story. Psycho II is just that, a very good mystery thriller about a man getting out of prison after two decades, going home and trying to re-start his life. What follows is a well-crafted mystery where-in you are never quite sure whether or not Norman Bates is back to his killing ways, or if he's being framed...if he is reformed and deserving help, or if he is delusional and capable of murdering again. It would be easy to phone it in on a sequel like this, so it's nice to see that starting with a script from Tom Holland (who went on to write and direct Fright Night and Child's Play) and through production and the return to the role for Anthony Perkins all gel together so surprisingly well.

If you come out to see the encore presentation of Psycho / Psycho II on Tuesday night, be sure to stay for both. Now I really want to see part III (directed by Anthony Perkins), and part IV (mostly a prequel, from the writer of the original). If only all sequels could be so impressive, movie-goers would have much less to complain about.

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