While some thought the explicit violence of Psycho II did put the sequel in that lesser category, most fans applauded Tom Holland's clever script and Richard Franklin's sure-handed direction. In the summer of '83, Psycho II was by far my most anticipated movie. Appropriately for a Psycho film, my mother let me skip my junior high graduation to take me to see it and I was enthralled from start to finish.
Thanks to the incredible surprise win by Holland and Franklin, Norman Bates wasn't just a part of horror history anymore, he was slashing shoulder to shoulder in the '80s with Jason, Freddy, and Michael Myers. Some might not see that as anything to celebrate but not only was Psycho II a superior sequel but the Anthony Perkins-directed Psycho III (1986) was as well. In some ways, I prefer Psycho III as it's a funkier, seedier entry in the series. It has a more lived-in aura of madness, a more macabre sensibility, and a richer sense of tragedy. It goes places that a direct sequel to Psycho couldn't have. But it never would've existed had Psycho II not accomplished the impossible and made Norman a horror superstar to a new generation of fans.
For my full Summer Shocks review of Psycho II, click here.