Classic Franchise Month – Psycho IV: The Beginning (1990)

Director: Mick Garris

Writer: Joseph Stefano (Screenplay)

Starring: Anthony Perkins, Henry Thomas, Olivia Hussey, CCH Pounder, Warren Frost, Donna Mitchell

 

Plot: Norman Bates recalls his childhood with his abusive mother while fearing his unborn child will inherit his split personality disorder.


Tagline – You’ve met Norman… now meet mother.

Runtime: 1 Hour 36 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: When Sequels Are Bad, Go Prequel

 

Story: Psycho IV: The Beginning starts as Norman Bates (Perkins) listening to a local radio station which is having the discussion about children killing their mother’s. Norman gives us a backstory to his relationship with his mother Norma (Hussey) as teenager Norman (Thomas) commits his first murder.

As he reveals his story the shows rating increase, but when he says he is ready to kill again, it becomes clearly that Norman has been pushed over the edge once again.

 

Thoughts on Psycho IV: The Beginning

 

Characters – In the characters we have two different versions of Norman, the older one who has committed the crimes in the past and now telling his story after moving on with his life and the teenage one that is getting abused by his mother as he first starts out his killing spree, this one is more interesting to watch as seeing him on the edge makes it easier to understand his motivation for his actions. Norma Bates is Norman’s mother, in this film she is very much alive and we see just how she treated Norman when she wasn’t happy with the way his life was going, trying to force him into being a girl.

PerformancesAnthony Perkins mostly gives us the commentary of his characters past, he is a good story teller which is what he must do. Henry Thomas does work as a younger Norman which is good he handles the creepy side of the character well. Olivia Hussey makes for a great Norma Bates, she looks seductive and easily hits the strict level needed.

StoryThe story here takes us to the origin of what drove Norman to become the killer, we get these through a radio show where he tells the story and see the abuse he suffered at the hands of his mother. This works because the sequel line was getting boring after a while, showing us that we needed to go to the prequel line to learn more of the motivation. This however does cause problems for the most part because we jump all over the place in the timeline of creating him, while in the modern time Norman must face his own battle with his mind while telling the story again.

Horror/MysteryThe horror elements do seem to have come out of the film now, we do get the murders, but they never feel scary, the mystery of doing this as a prequel doesn’t help because we know where the film will end up going.

SettingsThe film gives us less time at the Bates Motel, making the scenes there being the highlights of the film, but away from it we lose that IT factor about the Norman character.

Special EffectsThe effects in the movie have improved, when it comes to the murders and the different styles Norman use we feel like they are real this time.


Scene of the Movie –
Young Norman doing the deed.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The confusion timeline in the flashback scenes.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good addition to the Psycho franchise, you could skip over three and still end up in a good position with everything and how this film directs the story.

 

Overall: Nice addition.

Rating

 

 

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Classic Franchise Month – Psycho III (1986)

Director: Anthony Perkins

Writer: Charles Edward Pogue (Screenplay)

Starring: Anthony Perkins, Diana Scarwid, Jeff Fahey, Roberta Maxwell, Hugh Gillin, Lee Garlington

 

Plot: Norman Bates falls in love with a fallen nun who stays at the Bates Motel alongside a drifter and a curious reporter. Meanwhile, “mother” is still watching.


Tagline – Norman Bates is back to normal. But Mother’s off her rocker again!

Runtime: 1 Hour 33 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Decline Has Started

 

Story: Psycho III starts when nun Maureen (Scarwid) is involved in a terrible accident at the monastery, forcing her on the run receiving a lift from drifter Duane (Fahey). Duane ends up at the Bates Motel getting a job from Norman Bates (Perkins) whose latest guest ends up being Maureen.

When Norman starts seeing Marion Crane in Maureen, he starts to battle his nightmares once again and sees his chance to redeem himself after saving her life, but Mother is always watching him.

 

Thoughts on Psycho III

 

Characters – Norman Bates has the Motel open and is looking for support, the town has accepted he has done his time, but he still battles his demons and his mother in his head. His latest guest brings back the memories of Marion Crane and the battle in his mind becomes the toughest since his release. Maureen is a nun that is on the verge of suicide, this leads to a death on the monastery she is part of and her going on the run, ending up at the Bates Motel becoming friends with Norman, little does she know she is similar to Marion Crane.

PerformancesAnthony Perkins does keep his performance strong where you can believe how creepy he does feel in each scene, though stepping behind the camera didn’t help keep the focus on his character. Diana Scarwid is good for the most part even if her screaming doesn’t feel as real as it should. Jeff Fahey makes for a good drifter character knowing just how sleezy to make his character.

StoryThe story here follows the events of Psycho II as we see where Norman is after what happens at the end of that film, Norman is still balancing his new life with his battle of his mind about his mother as the lost souls find themselves in the motel. The story feels strange when connecting together because we have part romance, part loss of control and neither connect on a level we would enjoy and everything just turns into chaos. For the most part this tries to address the idea of being part of the public again when Norman is clearly unstable. There is a lot of material which tries to balance the idea of the murders happening again only this time Norman believes it might be him.

Horror/MysteryThe horror in this film comes from the additional body count happening, there is no suspense before the murders though, the mystery comes from just whether Norman is in fact killing again or is it in his mind.

SettingsThe film does take us back to the Bates Motel which does look creepy still, but is never shown in the fear filled atmosphere of the previous films.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film do feel weaker too, as we don’t get to see enough of what is happening to the characters during the murders.


Scene of the Movie –
The opening sequence is the stand out scene.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The screaming is never believable.

Final ThoughtsThis is a weaker addition to the franchise, it doesn’t have enough to make it feel worthy of the franchise and shows the decline we have taken.

 

Overall: Poor sequel that didn’t even cash grab well.

Rating

 

 

Classic Franchise Month – Psycho II (1983)

Director: Richard Franklin

Writer: Tom Holland (Screenplay)

Starring: Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles, Meg Tilly, Robert Loggia, Dennis Franz, Hugh Gillin, Claudia Bryar

 

Plot: After twenty-two years of psychiatric care, Norman Bates attempts to return to a life of solitude, but the specters of his crimes – and his mother – continue to haunt him.


Tagline – Norman Bates is back. Coming home was a bad mistake!

Runtime: 1 Hour 53 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Good Sequel

 

Story: Psycho II starts when Norman Bates (Perkins) gets released after 22-years in psychiatric care against the wishes of Lila (Miles), returning to his home overlooking the Bates Motel, taking a job in the local diner and opening his door to waitress Mary (Tilly) after she breaks up with her boyfriend.

It isn’t long before Norman starts believing he is seeing his mother and receiving phone calls and notes from people, even with him trying to put his life back together by reopening the motel to the public. Can he keep everything together or is he still unstable to the public?

 

Thoughts on Psycho II

 

Characters – Norman Bates is now out of hospital trying to return to his normal life, he seems fully recovered, but it doesn’t take long before he starts to question his own sanity believing his mother has returned to him or being made to play the victim to someone else’s game. Lila is against Norman being released and she will do anything to stop him from living a normal life. Mary is the waitress that is offered a room by Norman believing he has been cured and now she starts to see the good in him, though she isn’t completely what she seems to be.

PerformancesAnthony Perkins is good in this leading role showing the unstable side of his character when needed. Vera Miles is good in her role but doesn’t get too much to do. Meg Tilly is a good addition to the cast, she is strong throughout the film keeping her character a mystery.

StoryThe story here follows the release of Norman Bates after years locked away as he must come to terms with re-entering society while people still don’t want him released. This is an interesting spin on the idea of the villain from a previous film returning, because it is the time required in hospital before released served and does deal with the idea that being let back into society isn’t going to be accepted by all. Having Norman questioning his own sanity helps us along the way and the twist that comes through the film makes everything tie together nicely.

Crime/Horror/MysteryThe criminal has been released back into normal life which shows us just what it would be like as both sides can argue the point, the horror comes from where the new list of bodies starting to pile up with the mystery being who is behind the killing spree.

SettingsThe film does take us back to the iconic Bates Motel which gives us the best scenes, every time we leave we are left feeling out of place though.

Special EffectsThe effects do try to use the less is more technique only for it not to come off on the level of the original.


Scene of the Movie –
The final twist.

That Moment That Annoyed Me IMDB ruins a big twist in the story.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good sequel to the classic, it builds on the ideas of Norman Bates being released after serving his time and now we see the next chapter of the story.

 

Overall: Sequel well worth watching.

Rating

 

 

Overlord (2018)

Director: Julius Avery

Writer: Billy Ray, Mark L Smith (Screenplay)

Starring: Wyatt Russell, Mathilda Ollivier, Pilou Asbaek, Jovan Adepo, John Margaro, Iain De Caestecker, Bokeem Woodbine

 

Plot: The story of two American soldiers behind enemy lines on D Day.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 49 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Bloody & Brutal

 

Story: Overlord starts when a unit of American soldiers led by Ford (Russell) and with rookie Boyce (Adepo) being the man we follow through the film. The unit is on a mission to destroy a radio tower behind enemy lines in France during World War II to stop the communication lines before D-Day.

When their plane is shot down the team is down to just four, Ford, Boyce, Tibbet (Magaro) and Chase (Caestecker) who team up with a French lady Chloe (Olliver) whose village has been overrun by Wafner (Asbaek) and his men. When Boyce learns the truth about what the Germans have been doing they must complete their mission and stop their experiments before they become the most dangerous army in the world.

 

Thoughts on Overlord

 

Characters – Boyce is the rookie soldier, considered weak by his unit, he does make rookie mistakes like many soldiers, we see most of the events through his eyes, unlike the rest of the soldiers he does want to make human decisions however dangerous they may seem. We do see how he evolves as a soldier through the film. Ford is the no nonsense explosive expert that knows the mission is more important than his life. He is born a soldier that does seem to have a past which leaves him in the unit even after the being on previous mission. Chloe is a French woman that has been terrorised by the German soldiers, she does everything she can to protect her younger brother, she sees hope in the American soldiers and helps them take on the Germans. Wafner is one of the German soldiers that targets Chloe, he goes to the new strength from the secrets being held within the lab. The supporting soldiers are good too mostly used for comedy.

PerformancesJovan Adepo in the leading role is very strong, he is an actor I hadn’t seen in anything before and his innocent nature plays perfectly. Wyatt Russell easily becomes the guy you want to watch the most, you can see he is following in his father’s footsteps with the performance he gives us here. Mathilde Olliver is good too with Pilou Asbaek making for a good villain.

StoryThe story here brings us into the idea that the Nazi’s were performing experiments on innocent and making them a new threat in World War II. We follow the soldiers that are trying to complete a mission which is the important part of the D-Day landing mission. The story does have a real-time feeling which gives everything an extra level of tension. In fairness everything around the experiment has been done before, the biggest plus however comes from the limited number of zombies being used which shows us just how the early parts are starting to come from the results. This is one of the most simple and effective storylines you will see and this should be praised.

Action/Horror/Mystery/Sci-FiThe action in this movie starts of with war conflict with a brilliant sequence on a plane before the units landing, we follow the usual until we get to the zombie side of things which involves plenty of brutal bloody fights. This plays well in the hands of the horror because we see just how brutal each fight becomes for each person involved, the mystery comes from the soldiers needing to learn what the German’s are up to inside the church and the big part is that it gets solved. With what they are doing we enter the world of sci-fi which becomes an easy go to for war films involving what the Nazi’s might have been up to.

SettingsThe film gives us realistic settings which show us the small town with the church that needs to have the radio tower destroyed, the woodland area gives cover and for any sort of experiment side of things, the settings fit in perfectly.

Special EffectsThe effects here are bloody covered crazy enjoyment, we do have certain CGI moments, mostly being see with how to stop the zombies and from the first visit to the lab.


Scene of the Movie –
Exploring the lab for the first time.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I think we could have been given a moment of truth from why Ford was moved to this unit as certain moments suggest different rumours.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun bloody and over the top film that can be enjoyed by anyone in the horror world, it knows how to make the action feel like a popcorn film and that is all we ask for at times.

 

Overall: Truly enjoyable horror movie.

Rating

 

 

Classic Franchise Month – Psycho (1960)

Director: Alfred Hitchcock

Writer: Joseph Stefano (Screenplay) Robert Bloch (Novel)

Starring: Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles, John Gavin, Janet Leigh, Martin Balsam, John IcIntire

 

Plot: A Phoenix secretary embezzles $40,000 from her employer’s client, goes on the run, and checks into a remote motel run by a young man under the domination of his mother.


Tagline – No One … BUT NO ONE … Will Be Admitted To The Theatre After The Start Of Each Performance Of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho

Runtime: 1 Hour 49 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: The Suspenseful Classic

 

Story: Psycho starts when secretary Marion Crane (Leigh) steals $40,000 from her boss and heads off for a life of paradise across America she finds a remote motel, The Bates Motel, where the clerk Norman (Perkins) welcomes her with open arms, as we hear the difficulties she is having with his mother. What seems like a peaceful place soon shows the darker side when Mrs Bates murder Marion leaving Norman to clean up the mess.

Now learning that the money is gone private investigator Arbogast (Balsam) goes in search for Marion, before her boyfriend Sam Loomis (Gavin) and her sister Lila (Miles) uncover the truth about the Bates Motel.

 

Thoughts on Psycho

 

Characters – Marion Crane is the secretary wanting to leave her life for a life in paradise, she steals the money and is left questioning her decision on her journey, she will soon become one of the most iconic characters in horror history. Norman Bates is the shy hotel manager that is polite even if social awkward when talking to the guests, but comes off like a kind man, he is controlled by his mother, he does have a darker side and he becomes a prime suspect in the missing Marion Crane case. Lila Crane is the sister of Marion that heads off with Sam to investigate the whereabouts of Marion.

PerformancesAnthony Perkins gives us one of the most disturbing performances in any horror movie and one that is still talked about today nearly 60 years later as one of the best ever. Janet Leigh is wonderful in her role as we can clearly see the conflict she is facing, while Vera Miles is goo din her role in the film too.

StoryThe story here held redefine horror movies as we know them by having an extended opening act with Marion only to kill her off that surprised the audience believing she would be the star of the movie. This helped introduce us to a new type of horror villain in Norman Bates, one that is human and able to cover for mistakes. We have one of the greatest twists in horror history here too, one that nearly everyone knows now too. To have experienced this movie without knowing the reality of what we know now would have been one of the most shocking experiences in cinema history.

Horror/MysteryThe horror in this film shows us just how to create a serial killer that could easily be real with his aggression coming from a mental disorder over being drawn to blood. The mystery keeps us guessing to who is the killer and what is their connection to the Bates Motel.

SettingsThe film takes place in the Bates Motel, this is an isolated location which has now become one of the biggest iconic locations in horror history.

Special EffectsThe effects for the kills show us just what you can achieve by showing less for the same effects.


Scene of the Movie –
The basement.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not being able to experience this movie without knowing anything about it.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the greatest movies ever made, it creates suspense with ease, a killer that will reveal us one of the greatest twists of all time and a style of storytelling which created a new style.

 

Overall: Classic on every level.

Rating