The Psycho Collection – Review

The Psycho Collection - Review

By Sarah Morgan

Norman Bates. Such a nice boy. Handsome, charming – but don’t stay at his motel, because chances are you won’t wake up the next morning.

When Robert Bloch created the character for his 1959 novel Psycho, he couldn’t possibly have expected him to become a cultural icon. But then, his version of Norman was very different to the one we know from the film franchise. Where Bloch’s was short, in his late-40s and overweight, the one depicted on the big screen was played by Anthony Perkins, a tall, slight, twenty-something.

The Psycho Collection - ReviewIt was, of course, Alfred Hitchcock who first saw the movie potential in the novel, creating a cinematic classic with help from screenwriter Joseph Stefano and Bernard Hermann’s unforgettable score. It was followed 23 years later by a belated sequel; a third film and a made-for-TV movie appeared after that, all starring Perkins as Norman before his untimely death in 1992.

“A masterpiece”

All four films are being released as a boxset by Arrow. The first movie wasn’t made available to review – good job, then, that I’ve seen it many, many times already. It remains a masterpiece and the ending still packs a punch today for those unaware of the twist. As for that shower scene… well, in my opinion, it’s still the greatest murder set-piece ever depicted on screen. It helps that the cast – which, alongside Perkins, includes Janet Leigh, Vera Miles and Martin Balsam – are all at the peak of their powers.

Perkins and Miles returned for the 1983 sequel directed by Australian self-confessed Hitchcock fan Richard Franklin. Although Bloch had written a follow-up to his original novel, the movie doesn’t match its plot. Instead, Miles, as Lila, the sister of Bates’ victim Marion Crane, seeks revenge with help from her daughter (Meg Tilly). Unfortunately, she turns out to be just as unhinged as the man she’s desperate to frame for a new set of murders.

Psycho III, released in 1986, was also directed by Perkins, who includes some nice nods to Hitchcock for fans to look out for. However, the plot – a nun on the run (Diana Scarwid) rocks up at the motel and is attracted to Norman, while the motel’s manager (Jeff Fahey) gets up to mischief – is the weakest of the four movies. It adds nothing to the development of the Bates legend and seems to have simply been made as a quick and easy way to make some money.

The Psycho Collection - Review

“Surprisingly good”

Finally, Psycho IV: The Beginning (1990) is surprisingly good. This time, Norman has settled into domestic bliss which is being threatened by his concerns over becoming a father. When his former psychologist takes part in a radio discussion about men who kill their mothers, Norman calls in, recalling his past crimes, the reasons he committed murder and his fears for the future.

While some fans may argue that some of the events depicted in flashbacks are out of order, overall it fills in some gaps in the Bates family history. Directed by horror genre stalwart Mick Garris, the film features Henry ‘ET’ Thomas as a young Norman, while CCH Pounder, Twin Peaks veteran Warren Frost and film-maker John Landis all have small roles. Two versions of the film are available here. One in the original TV aspect ratio, the other Garris’s preferred widescreen take.

All four films have had crisp 4k restorations, and the discs are packed with special features – something we’ve come to expect from Arrow. Each features audio commentaries, and there are archival interviews with many of the stars as well as new content to enjoy. The boxset is a must for fans – unless someone in the future releases a collection that also includes the 1998 Psycho remake, the TV series Bates Motel and the 1987 film of the same name, it’s hard to imagine anything more comprehensive or the set being surpassed in terms of quality.

    • 4K (2160p) Ultra HD presentations of all four films
    • New 4K restorations of Psycho II, Psycho III and Psycho IV from the original camera negatives
    • Original lossless mono and 5.1 audio options for Psycho, Psycho II and Psycho III, lossless mono and stereo audio options for Psycho IV
    • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
    • Reversible Sleeves featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matt Griffin
    • Double-sided posters for each film featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matt Griffin
    • 9 postcard sized reproduction art cards
    • 120-page perfect bound collector’s book featuring new writing by film critics John-Paul Checkett and Johnny Mains plus select archival material.
    • Audio Commentary with Stephen Rebello, Author of Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho
    • The Making of Psycho documentary
    • In the Master's Shadow, Hitchcock's Legacy featurette
    • Hitchcock / Truffaut audio interview with scenes from the movie
    • Newsreel Footage: The Release of Psycho featurette
    • The Shower Scene: With & Without Music featurette
    • The Shower Sequence, Storyboards by Saul Bass image gallery
    • Psycho Sound featurette
    • The Psycho Archives image gallery
    • Posters and Psycho Ads image gallery
    • Lobby Cards image gallery
    • Behind the Scenes Photographs image gallery
    • Publicity Shots image gallery
    • Theatrical Trailer
    • Re-Release Trailers
    • New audio commentary by Michael Brooke and Johnny Mains
    • Audio commentary by screenwriter Tom Holland
    • Behind the Curtain, The Masters of Horror on Psycho panel discussion with screenwriter Tom Holland and Psycho IV director Mick Garris moderated by Robert Galluzzo
    • Giving Bloch His Due, interview with Chet Williams, author of "Psycho: Sanitarium" on the legacy of Norman Bates' creator, author Robert Bloch
    • Anthony Perkins TV interview
    • Anthony Perkins Audio interview
    • Richard Franklin Audio interview
    • "Richard Franklin On Set" featurette
    • Richard Franklin scene commentary
    • A sequel to a classic
    • The house on the hill
    • Personality profile: Anthony Perkins
    • Personality profile: Richard Franklin
    • Still crazy after all these years
    • Behind the scenes
    • Anthony Perkins interview
    • Vera Miles interview
    • Janet Leigh interview
    • Jerry Goldsmith demo
    • Trailers & TV spots
    • Image Gallery
    • Audio Press Kit/promotional record (plays during almost the entire film)
    • Record gallery
    • New Commentary by Michael Brooke and Johnny Mains
    • Audio Commentary by screenwriter Charles Edward Pogue
    • Carnival of the Heart, a new visual essay by film scholar Alexandra Heller Nicholas
    • Scream of Love, a new interview with composer Carter Burwell
    • Watch the Guitar, an interview with actor Jeff Fahey
    • Patsy's Last Night, an interview with actor Katt Shea
    • Mother's Maker, an interview with special make-up effects artist Michael Westmore
    • Body Double, an interview with actress Brinke Stevens
    • Original Electronic Press Kit
    • Alternate Opening
    • Theatrical Trailer
    • TV spot
    • Image Gallery
    • 4K (2160p) Ultra HD presentation of the film in director’s preferred 1.78:1 aspect ratio
    • Audio Commentary with director Mick Garris, actor Henry Thomas, and actress Olivia Hussey
    • Death by Strings, new visual essay by author and critic Guy Adams on music across the franchise
    • The Making Of Mother, an archive interview with make-up effects artist Tony Gardner
    • Behind-The-Scenes Footage
    • A Look at the Scoring of Psycho IV, an archive featurette
    • Theatrical Trailer
    • 4K (2160p) Ultra HD presentation of the film in 1.33:1 TV aspect ratio
  • The Psycho Collection - Limited Edition UHD is released by Arrow, £59.99

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