Archive for Bates Motel

Psycho III (1986) Review

Posted in Psycho III with tags , , , , on October 16, 2013 by Last Road Reviews

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PSYCHO III

*** ½ Out of 5

Tagline- Norman Bates Is Back to Normal. But Mother’s off Her Rocker Again!

Release Date- July 2nd, 1986

Running Time- 93-Minutes

Rating- R

Screenplay- Charles Edward Pogue

Director- Anthony Perkins

Starring- Anthony Perkins, Diana Scarwid, Jeff Fahey, Hugh Gillin, Roberta Maxwell

Released in 1986 Psycho III often draws mixed reviews with some giving it poor reviews and others giving it a glowing review. For me Psycho III falls somewhere in the middle. This is the kind of film I need to be in the right mood for. One day I can watch it and really enjoy it and other times find it a little above average. After the success of Psycho II I guess it wasn’t much of a shocker another one was made. Some people hail Psycho II the greatest horror sequel ever made and while I personally wouldn’t go that far, but unlike most horror sequels or sequels in general Psycho II actually had a story and didn’t exist simply because it could. Psycho III the story isn’t as strong and the film really wasn’t needed, but despite that Psycho III does turn out fairly well and perhaps a little underrated. The original is one of the all time greats and Psycho II a worthy follow up, which puts even more pressure on living up to the first two, which the film doesn’t, but that doesn’t make it bad.

Picking up a month after the events of Psycho II, Norman Bates (Perkins) is still running the Bates motel and hires a sleazy musician Duke ( Fahey) to run the motel during the day while Norman runs it during the night. Maureen Coyle leaves the convent as she no longer believes in god and when Norman sees her he notices she has a rebalance to Marion Crane than sees the initials M.C. on her suitcase, which puts Norman on edge. Meanwhile Tracy (Maxwell) a reporter working on a story arrives in town looking into the disappearance of Mrs. Spool and wants to also interview Norman Bates.

The screenplay by Charles Edward Pogue is well plotted with some nice homages to the original film and character wise, Pogue does craft some interesting characters. Pogue writes a solid script, but the problem is it really doesn’t offer much and was written simply because of the success as the first 2. With that said results are still strong for the most part it’s just there wasn’t much of a story left to tell.

Besides starring Anthony Perkins also makes his directorial debut and apparently he was a bit nervous since he didn’t know all the technical aspects, but despite Perkins does a fairly good job and while Psycho III may not go down as one of the best directed films, again Perkins handles the production well. Pacing at times can be a little sluggish and the suspense is also a bit light, but its made up for with some excellent murder scenes including a fun homage to the shower scene from the original only set in a phone booth and a nasty throat slicing scene. There is also some really great black comedy on display and Psycho III also features a couple of somewhat sleazy scenes as well. Psycho II took mixtures of the original film as well as 80s slashers and for the most part it worked well. With Psycho III, Anthony Perkins does much of the same and while it worked, but not as well in Psycho II and perhaps Psycho III would have been better served going more of the slasher route. Psycho III also is sort of a murder mystery much like the 2nd film, but its given away fairly early in the film despite trying to retain some mystery. Overall though Anthony Perkins makes an enjoyable film and like I said pacing can be an issue, but its made up for with some solid deaths. Perkins would only direct one more film and that would be 2-years later in 1988 with a film titled Lucky Stiff.

Overall Psycho III is an entertaining film with some nice homages to the original as well as some funny black comedy. Unlike Psycho II this one doesn’t serve as much of a point, but its a fun film nonetheless. Like I said when it comes to Psycho III I need to be in the right mood for it and while its not as good as some cite, but not as poor as others say. If you liked the first two despite the flaws you’ll probably find enough here to make it a worthy viewing thanks in part to some solid murder scenes.

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Psycho II (1983) Review

Posted in Psycho II with tags , , , , , on October 15, 2013 by Last Road Reviews

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PSYCHO II

**** Out of 5

Tagline- It’s 22-Years Later and Norman Bates is Finally Coming Home

Release Date- June 3rd, 1983

Running Time- 113-Minutes

Rating- R

Screenplay- Tom Holland

Director- Richard Franklin

Starring- Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles, Robert Loggia, Dennis Franz and Meg Tilly

The great thing about making sequels is you have a built in audience as well as a formula to follow however when that sequel is to Psycho its quite different as its one of the most critically acclaimed films and directed by Alfred Hitchcock who is considered as one of the greatest filmmakers (and rightfully so). While most mention the influence of Psycho on the slasher film, which it was, but it also influenced many different genres. Even Martin Scorsese with Raging Bull had some influence. One of the fight scenes was shot and edited to look like the shower scene. Psycho II was made for two reasons; due to the popularity of the original and due to the popularity of the slasher film at the time though with that said Psycho II doesn’t exist simply because it can. Many genre fans consider Psycho II the greatest horror sequel and while I wouldn’t go that far, but of all the horror sequels and even non horror sequels, Psycho II actually has a plot and it doesn’t rehash the original, but continues the story. Like I said as far as horror sequels go I wouldn’t say Psycho II was the best (though its up there), but this film is probably the best continuation since again it doesn’t rehash the original but continues on and also has legs of its own. Whereas most sequels can lack their own identity that isn’t a problem in Psycho II. Overall Psycho II turns out far better than perhaps it should have and while not a perfect film it is however effective.

Even though many horror fans hail this as the best horror sequel there are others that dislike how it went more along the lines of a slasher film, which isn’t totally true. Psycho II is more graphic including a scene where one character gets stabbed in the mouth and sure you can see the slasher influence, but Psycho II is in no way a body count film and if anything it stays more true to the original with a few more slasher like scenes mixed in. A lot changed from 1960-1983 and the makers of Psycho II adjusted to the times without going the splatter route.

22-years after the events of the original Psycho Norman Bates (Perkins) is released from an insane asylum and tries to adjust to his freedom while trying to make a normal life for himself while Lila Loomis (Miles) angered by his release comes up with a plan to drive Norman crazy again and back to the asylum.

Psycho II was written by Tom Holland and writing a sequel to a film seen as one of the all-time greats is no easy task. Tom Holland however delivers an excellent and well plotted film that continues the story without rehashing it. Like I said I don’t see this as the best horror sequel, but it is the best continuation. The characters are great and Holland writes a very clever thriller. Psycho II makes for a very interesting character study as we follow Norman trying to live a normal life and its interesting seeing how angry and bitter Lila has become she’ll put anyone at risk to get Norman. We kind of have that role reversal as Lila in many ways becomes the villain and while we can understand where she’s coming from the fact she’ll put anyone in jeopardy makes her unlikable and ruthless. Even in the original Norman really wasn’t the villain and here I’d say he’s more sympathetic as he struggles to retain his sanity. Tom Holland wrote an excellent film and while it may not be as good as the original it can stand proudly with it.

If there was a lot of pressure on Tom Holland writing a sequel to Psycho imagine the pressure on Richard Franklin taking over for Alfred Hitchcock. Franklin delivers a well made and mostly well paced film that has plenty of suspense and tension. Throughout the film the tension runs high and Richard Franklin directs an effective and stylish thriller. Running at 113-minutes, Psycho II is a little longer than it needed to be and while the pace can get a little slow in spots, Franklin however always retains a layer of suspense throughout the picture, which keeps the pace from slowing down too much. Psycho II may not be a perfect film, but all things considered Richard Franklin is able to craft an excellent thriller that’s loaded with suspense.

Anthony Perkins is again terrific in the role of Norman Bates and from an acting standpoint he was great in the original and just might be even better here. Some people were upset with the direction the film took with Lila and I sort of agree, but regardless Vera Miles is excellent and while I understand complaints as I have some myself it is quite interesting to see how the events of the original shaped Lila and Vera Miles does a great job. Meg Tilly was also a joy to watch. She’s quite attractive and has this natural charisma to her.

Overall Psycho II is a great film and though I again wouldn’t label it the best horror sequel a case can be made why. With excellent performances and strong writing and directing and a whole lot of suspense Psycho II does the impossible and turns out to be a great film and a very worthy follow up to a masterpiece.

The year before Psycho II came out Robert Bloch who wrote the novel the original Psycho was based off wrote a sequel of his own also titled Psycho II and the film wasn’t based off Bloch’s novel and it makes for some interesting comparisons as they are so drastically different. Those upset with how Lila was in this film will be a little more pleased with the novel in that aspect. In 1990 Bloch would write another Psycho novel titled Psycho House, which has nothing to do with Psycho III or any if the other Psycho films.

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Psycho (1998) Review

Posted in Psycho (1998) with tags , , , , , , on October 8, 2013 by Last Road Reviews

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PSYCHO 1998

*** Out of 5

Tagline- Check In. Unpack. Relax. Take a Shower

Release Date- December 4th, 1998

Running Time- 102-Minutes

Rating- R

Screenplay- Joseph Stefano (Novel- Peter Bloch)

Director- Gus Van Sant

Starring- Vince Vaughn, Anne Heche, Julianne Moore, Viggo Mortensen with William H. Macey and Robert Forster

Released in 1998 Psycho is pretty much a shot for shot remake of the original and often gets very subpar reviews. Even though I’m not exactly a fan of the Psycho remake I also feel the film gets a little too much hate, which is easy to understand, but a lot of people bash the film for being a shot for shot remake, but the remake of Night of the Living Dead gets a lot more respect, but I guess Tom Savini being a horror legend people are more forgiving and if someone like say John Carpenter directed this I think it might get less hate. However with that said one has to wonder why Psycho was a shot for shot remake with very little added to it. What’s the point of remaking a film if you’re gonna make the same exact movie? It’s tough to judge Psycho as its own film since its the same as the original, but despite being identical the films couldn’t be anymore different in terms of suspense. The Psycho remake lacks everything that made the original such a masterpiece despite being identical.

Part of the problem with remaking Psycho is everybody knows the story of Norman Bates regardless of if you’ve seen the film or not. By right Norman really isn’t the villain while he’s mentally disturbed he has a split personality and the only thing Norman was guiltily of is covering up a crime. But everybody knows the story and the twist and that’s even ignoring the sequels. Psycho wasn’t some small cult film it was a massive success and one of the most influential films ever made. The twist that Norman is Mother may have shocked audiences in 1960, but as of 1998 when the remake came out it was common knowledge, which for me is another strike against the film. While this was also the case in the novel, but it wasn’t a huge success like the film, which helped make the 1960 version a shocker. The only way to avoid that in the remake would be to put a twist on things and even if it was a great twist it would still be a total failure. Watching the remake you already know exactly what’s gonna happen before it does. I think if anything that’s the biggest problem with the remake since the twist is already known before you even sit down to watch it and changing the twist would completely ruin the film as well. Really no matter what you do you’re destined to fail.

The screenplay was written by Joseph Stefano who also wrote the original film and all he really does is slightly alter some dialogue here and there as the script is nearly identical to his script for the original and I’m guessing as a writer this was Stefano’s easiest payday. The changes made to the script really have no impact whatsoever and I really can’t see any other reason for writing this other than for the money. While the novel by Robert Bloch and the 1960 film are for the most part the same, but it does feature a couple of scenes not in the original and a couple of scenes that are played out a bit differently and I think Stefano may have been better off going in that direction and while the end result would be pretty much the same film it would at least offer a couple of differences.

At one point in his career director Gus Van Sant was better known for his Indie films, but in 1997 with the release of Good Will Hunting he hit the mainstream as the film was a blockbuster hit and got nominated for several Oscars including best picture, best director, best actor and supporting actress with wins for best screenplay and supporting actor and as great of a film as Titanic was I felt than and now Good Will Hunting deserved the best picture win and Van Sant best director. Despite not winning being nominated opens a lot of doors in Hollywood and one has to wonder why with the massive success of Good Will Hunting and with all the projects out there for him why would Gus Van Sant decide to not only remake Psycho, but make an exact copy only with a new cast and in color. The pacing of the film is fairly decent and while it never comes close to matching the original at anytime in any area I can’t say I was ever bored with the remake. Like I said despite being a copy of the original it’s also a totally different film in terms of suspense. I really have no idea why Gus Van Sant it would be a good idea to not only remake Psycho, but do a shot for shot remake. The shower scene Van Sant puts a bit of a twist on it visually at least and it’s a complete failure compared to the original; it lacks the suspense and excitement of the original and Van Sant would have been better served making it a gore scene. It’s not so much it was bad and perhaps if not for the original it wouldn’t be so bad, but there is an original and this sure fails compared to it.

Norman in the original played by Anthony Perkins is quite odd, socially awkward and even a little child like in some ways, whereas Vince Vaughn basically for the most part copies Perkins, but he also comes across as sort of an idiot and simple minded. While I haven’t seen a lot of Vince Vaughn’s work I’ve see enough to find him a good actor, but here he was the wrong choice for Norman. Even ignoring Anthony Perkins, Vaughn still isn’t very good in the role. His scenes with Anne Heche in the parlor and later with Arbogast in the office are awkward and not in the way they were meant to be. He’s not terrible I guess, but wasn’t the right choice and compared to Perkins the performance is a failure. Rest of the cast is ok with cameos from James LeGros (Phantasm II) and James Remar (Warriors) and Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers) with bit parts from Robert Forster and Philip Baker Hall, but outside of William H. Macey nobody really stands out and despite greet actors like Viggo Mortensen they’re all rather forgettable. It’s a great cast for the Psycho remake, but they’re al wasted.

Overall the Psycho remake isn’t as bad as it was totally pointless. As much as I love the original Psycho I can avoid a bias view as many films I hold in as high regard as Psycho have also been remade with some of them I hated and others I liked, but this was just pointless and I’m not really sure what anyone was thinking. The film isn’t as bad as reviews you may have read though I cannot defend it from negative reviews since I see where they’re coming from. Psycho isn’t the worst film ever made, but easily one of the most pointless as its a shot for shot remake for 99% of the film. While I didn’t hate it I really sure didn’t love it either.

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Psycho House (1990 Novel) Review

Posted in Psycho House (Novel) with tags , , , on July 3, 2013 by Last Road Reviews

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PSYCHO HOUSE

*** Out of 5

Release Date- 1990

Pages- 217

Written by- Robert Bloch

Psycho House is the third part of the Psycho trilogy and in my opinion by far the weakest of the three. With that said though the book is still a decent enough read and only took me a couple of days to finish it. Psycho House isn’t quite the page turner Psycho was or Psycho II. And while the book is a decent read its just never as interesting as the first two novels. Norman isn’t in the book as by this time he’s dead and while he does drive the plot it just didn’t feel right without him. I suppose some of those feelings stem more from the films since in Psycho II (novel) he’s mostly just mentioned with only a few chapters, but difference between Psycho II and Psycho House is the threat of Norman is always present as we have no idea what his fate is. So even if Norman played a minor role it was also vital in a sense it just didn’t seem right without him at all. As I stated in my reviews for the other novels Norman was more or less the same in the original novel and film, but the couple of changes allowed both the film and novel for Psycho II to craft a totally different Norman and have both work well within their media. But different Norman or not it just feels weird without him at all.

It’s been about 30-years since the murder of Mary Crane and 7-years since the events of Psycho II. The Bates house and motel have been rebuilt and is a tourist attraction. Amy Haines is a writer and after her first true crime book was a success she’s now working on a book about Norman Bates, but Fairvale being a small town they don’t take kindly to outsiders and are less than happy about Amy asking all these questions and digging up the past. Right before Amy arrives a young girl is killed in the Bates house and soon more murders begin to happen and soon enough Amy herself ends up getting involved trying to figure out who is picking up where Norman left off.

The opening of the novel is very slasher like and while it has some decent suspense it’s sort of brought down by subpar writing. After the opening chapter the writing begins to improve. While Psycho was a mixture of crime and horror, Psycho II was more horror than anything else. Psycho House sort of goes back to the original in some ways and if anything is more of a detective story with a little bit of horror whereas Psycho mixed both those aspects together. Psycho was interesting in the fact it’s a mystery only we know who the killer is (or thought we did), but everything else is sort of like a mystery even if we know a bit more than the characters that are investigating. Even Psycho II is a mystery maybe more so since we don’t know if Norman is the killer or dead. Psycho House though is much more of a murder mystery and Amy Haines sort of a detective. I liked the idea behind the novel, but at times it just wasn’t very interesting though never really boring either.

Psycho House also sort of goes supernatural as demonic possession is also explored, but this plays a very small role and was just an idea by a demonologist. Its not a major force in the book, but the couple of chapters keep this as an option of being possible. Best way to put it if it turns out that way it wouldn’t be a shocker, but if it doesn’t it won’t feel like a time waster.

What bothers me most about Psycho House is again it had all the right ideas, but yet something wasn’t fully working. Psycho to me is one of the great novels and one of my all time favorites. Psycho II was just as good if not better for most of the book until the final 60 or so pages when the narrative flow gets sloppy. But I still very much enjoyed it and just might make my top 10 novels, but here with Psycho House there really wasn’t much story left and it seems to me due to the success of the first two novels as well as the film series that’s the only reason for Psycho House as it doesn’t have much new to offer the story.

What does work is the return to Fairvale; Psycho II only had a few chapters there as the bulk was in Hollywood and while this worked in the novel it was still a welcome return. Amy was a strong lead character and is likable and helped keep me invested. The rest of the characters are solid and interesting but Bloch just didn’t write an interesting enough of a novel for them to carry it.

Another aspect of the book that does work well is Psycho House does make for a solid mystery. Everyone is a possible suspect and that’s the one thing that managed to keep me intrigued. While the identity of the killer may not be overly shocking, but I was still a bit surprised.

What’s sort of interesting to me is how in a way quality wise the books and films are on the same level. Bloch’s Psycho was excellent and the film a masterpiece. Psycho II both novel and film were also very good. But Psycho III was a clear drop from the first two films and Psycho House the 3rd in the book series was also a major decline. While granted both the film and book of Psycho II were made because of the success of the originals they at least didn’t feel like cash ins the way Psycho III & Psycho House do.

Overall Psycho House was a decent read and only took me a couple of days to read. The plot was strong as were characters and the mystery on who the killer is, but something is still lacking here. My review may not be overly glowing, but it was a good read with the potential for so much more. I think also since I loved the first two so much perhaps my expectations were too high, but in the end while I thought the book was ok it also was very disappointing after the first 2. Psycho House still comes recommend as despite the problems it’s an excellent mystery. If you’ve read the first 2 might as well go for the 3rd and final part.

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