22 years after the original, I don't think anyone expected PSYCHO II to be as good as it is.
The film opens with Norman Bates at his release hearing. Anthony Perkins is excellent, recreating his classic character down to the smallest tic and awkward smile.
Norman seems better, but Lila Loomis (again portrayed by a very game Vera Miles) remembers the murder of her sister in the shower ALL too well and is loudly telling anyone that will listen that they are releasing a murderer.
Jerry Goldsmith's music builds some nice tension as Norman returns to the infamous hotel and THAT Victorian house on the hill, both looking exactly the same.
Dennis Franz (NYPD Blue) is at his slimy best as the current hotel manager, Meg Tilly (The Big Chill) is a young woman at the diner where Norman takes a job and Robert Loggia (Big, Scarface) is Norman's doctor, making regular visits to the Bates Motel.
Norman is barely home when he starts getting ominous notes and calls from his Mother.
When she begins making appearances at the window of her room, Bates begins questioning his sanity and the we're never quite sure what's really happening.
Writer Tom Holland (Fright Night) does a great job working with the classic characters we all know so well from the original.
Director Richard Franklin respects the material and creates an interesting little thriller with plenty of tributes to Hitchcock. There is plenty of suspense. Franklin plunges into some very graphic gore in the final 20 minutes that would have made Hitch faint.
With a clever wrap up that leaves you satisfied and smirking, PSYCHO II was one of the best sequels of the 80's.
After it's box office success, Anthony Perkins would return as both star AND Director two years later with "Psycho III".
This remains the best of the film sequels and earns an appreciative B.
(Watch closely when Norman and Mary first enter Mother's room and you'll see Hitchcock's famous profile in shadow on the right side of the screen.)