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Film / Psycho II

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"I don't kill people anymore."
Norman Bates

Psycho II (1983) is the first sequel to Psycho, directed by Richard Franklin and written by Tom Holland (no, not that one). Anthony Perkins and Vera Miles reprise their roles as Norman Bates and Lila Loomis, respectively; also in the cast are Meg Tilly, Robert Loggia, and Dennis Franz. The score was composed by Jerry Goldsmith.

After more than two decades of confinement, Norman is pronounced cured and released from the mental institution. He attempts to rebuild his life, but relatives of his victims conspire to drive him insane again, hoping to have him re-committed.

This is not based on Robert Bloch's 1982 novel of the same name, which has a completely different plot which Universal flatly refused to film. (Given that, among other things, said novel has a scene where many of the male movie stars of the day are portrayed as gaynote  — not to mention the whole "Norman vanishes at an early stage before his fate is revealed towards the end of the book, and oh yeah he was killed" thing — you can see why.)

This film provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Zig-zagged with Lila Loomis. The only times we ever see her interact with her daughter, she's always manhandling her and screaming at her in an almost threatening tone. However, given that Mary is working next to Norman Bates some people may point out how justified she is. Though that still doesn't excuse the fact that she never treats her like how a normal parent would.
  • Accidental Murder:
    • Dr. Raymond is accidentally stabbed by Mary and falls down the staircase to his demise.
    • Mary is Mistaken for Murderer and gunned down by the police before she could explain herself.
  • Actor Allusion: Dennis Franz's casting can be this to his collaborations with Brian De Palma, who is known for his early works paying homage to Alfred Hitchcock (the director of the original 1960 film), one of which being Dressed to Kill which drew comparisons with Psycho.
  • All for Nothing: By the end, everything is meaningless. All our major female characters die failing to achieve anything in the story and Norman ends up returning to his villainous ways, negating all hope for him to change in the film.
  • Asshole Victim: Lila, Mr Toomey.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Lila and Emma Spool, though the latter isn't revealed to be a villain until the very end. Lila causes the main conflict, attempting to drive Norman insane and send him back to the hospital, no matter what cost. Emma Spool also complicates things for Norman, even though she claims to be trying to help him. She's the one who's been committing all the murders in the film and draws attention to Norman. Spool then kills Lila, which in turn gets Mary killed, completely driving Norman insane.
    • It's something of a subversion, as the film's different villains are following completely separate agendas. Lila has no idea there's a second killer on the loose.
  • Becoming the Mask: Mary was sent in by her mother Lila to act as a Honey Trap for Norman Bates and instigate another Sanity Slippage within him by manipulating his emotions. However, she grows attached to Norman and develops real care for him.
  • Bookends: Lila is murdered by "Mother" in the same basement where she discovered her corpse. The movie also starts with an establishing shot of the Bates Motel sign before rehashing the infamous shower scene and ending with a shot of the Bates home. The final scenes of the movie are of the motel sign, with Norman standing outside of the house, driving home the fact that he's fully returned to his previous "psycho" persona.
  • Bus Crash: Sam Loomis died in between films.
  • Colliding Criminal Conspiracies: Lila Loomis' gambit and Mrs Spool's gambit in Psycho II.
  • Cruel Twist Ending: Mary ends up killed, Lila ends up dying a Fallen Heroine, Mrs. Spool fails to win over Norman's trust, and Norman returns to his villainous ways after killing his would-be mother.
  • Downer Ending: Norman's attempt to return to a normal world as a good person ultimately ends up in failure since he is eventually driven insane again.
  • The Dragon: Technically, Mary is this to her mother Lila.
  • Everyone Has Standards: When Norman finds out that his motel is being exploited by his Manager Toomey for prostitution and drugs since he's been away, he fires him. When Toomey threatens to have him locked up, Norman counters with blackmail. Toomey dies anyway, just not by Norman's hands.
  • Evil Old Folks: Mrs Spool and Lila Loomis are both elderly and the Big Bad Ensemble.
  • Evil Versus Evil: Lila Loomis and Mrs. Spool's evil plans ultimately end up combating each other while Norman's caught in the crossfire.
  • Expy: Toomey is essentially what Norman was in the original book. An overweight, alcoholic pervert, possibly a Take That! to the book's depiction of Norman.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Marion's sister goes from seeking justice on her sister's murderer to just plain paranoid when she hears Norman's being released after 22 years in the mental hospital and spends a good portion of II trying to Gaslight Norman back into a mental hospital where she thinks he belongs, not giving one shit that he's been cured and trying to make doubly sure his mental health never recovers from this second assault on his sanity. Although she could be bordering on being a Well-Intentioned Extremist.
  • Failure Hero:
    • Mary ultimately dies accomplishing nothing despite the fact that she tried to appease both Lila and Norman all throughout the movies.
    • Dr. Raymond is attempting to help Norman readjust to society and prevent any harm from coming to him. He unfortunately dies trying to help him.
  • Fanservice: There's another shower scene, but rather than it being a scene of shocking violence, we get a flash of Meg Tilly's breasts and a lingering shot of her toweling off, lovingly centered on her naked butt.
  • Fat Bastard: Mr. Toomey is an overweight drug dealer who sells his products to minors.
  • Foil: Norman and Mary are both dominated by My Beloved Smother, both of whom bordered on insanity.
  • Gambit Pileup: The ending is a particularly contrived example.
  • Gaslighting: Norman Bates came home cured. Marion's sister decides to unravel that.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Lila and Mary's plan to drive Norman over the edge works like a charm - and they're the first ones killed as a result.
  • Hate Sink: Mr. Toomey is clearly meant to be the character we hate in order to make every other character look sympathetic in comparison.
  • Heel Face Doorslam: Both Mary and Norman fail to change into better people by the end. Mary is gunned down by the police by accident while Norman is Driven to Villainy again.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Norman does one after he's released from the hospital, his murderous impulses and split personality gone, with the friendly and good natured side of his personality still intact. Too bad it's undone by the actions of Lila and Emma Spool.
  • Hero Antagonist: Lila again and briefly her daughter Mary. Lila however, is an interesting case. While she played the role straight in the first film, in the second film her motive is a result of Revenge Before Reason, as she tries avenge her sister's death, while here methods such as driving the cured Norman insane again to have him recommitted makes her border on being a Knight Templar, but being amoral in her actions cause her to border on He Who Fights Monsters. While, Mary, is in on her scheme, she is more of a Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist as she was able to sympathize with Norman in contrast to the Lila's staunchly stubborn Inspector Javert.
  • Honey Trap: Mary is revealed to be one working for Lila.
  • Insane No More: Norman is released from institutionalisation after over two decades of treatment, having been cured of the murderous "Mother" personality. But the relatives of his victims have other plans.
  • Inspector Javert: Lila, who stubbornly still refuses to accept that Norman has reformed after the murder of her sister.
  • Jerkass:
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
  • Karma Houdini: Norman gets away with murdering Mrs. Spool, not that she was so innocent herself. In-universe, in regards to Norman being released, Lila being a total unrelenting Inspector Javert thinks he's this, hence why she went full unscrupulous Knight Templar Vigilante Woman later in the movie.
    Lila: Why bother? It's all too obvious. Our courts are protecting criminals not their victims.
  • Kick the Dog: Mr. Toomey actually comes to Norman's new place of work to bully him and actually mocks him for his troubled past as a serial killer.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Mrs. Emma Spool at the end. She reveals that the woman Norman knew as his mother was actually his aunt, and that she was Norman's biological mother.
  • Info Dump: Subverted in the second film, where the sheriff gives a very similar Info Dump to his deputies and some reporters. The problem is that his conclusions are completely incorrect, and he's oblivious to the fact that Norman has gone crazy again.
  • Mirror Character:
    • Norman and Mary are both emotionally broken loners who have few friends and are used as tools by both their abusive mothers.
    • After she Took a Level in Jerkass, Lila becomes disturbingly similar to Norma Bates. Both are selfish, judgmental Evil Old Folks who frequently abuse their children without any concern for anyone else who crosses their path.
  • Mistaken for Murderer: Mary is mistaken for causing all the killings in the movie and gunned down before she could explain herself.
  • My Beloved Smother: Mary's mother pushes her into committing evil acts, before she realizes that her mother is just as pushy as Norman's was.
  • Never Mess with Granny: Mrs. Spool, the nice old lady who works at a diner, was really the stealthy serial killer of the movie.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Lila and Mary attempt to Gaslight Norman in order to drive him crazy again and get him sent back to the asylum for the rest of his life. They only manage the former, likely because they weren't counting on Emma Spool's interference.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Mrs. Spool's attempts to win Norman over to her side eventually contribute to him returning to his villainy.
  • Not Me This Time: The killer of this film is actually not Norman. Mary learns that somebody else is behind the mysterious murders around the Bates Motel this time.
  • Not What It Looks Like: The police burst in and see Mary dressed as Norma Bates and holding a knife, while Norman had stabbed hands and was in a pleading position. What they didn't know was that Mary had only dressed as Norma to try to keep Norman from listening to the strange phone calls and only cut him when she began to fear for her life.
  • Only Sane Man: Dr. Raymond, more or less is the only person trying to prevent the situation from escalating to even worse degrees.
  • "Psycho" Strings: Bernard Hermann's legendary score is played as Marion Crane's murder is shown during the opening flashback. Jerry Goldsmith offers his own version as Lila Loomis is murdered.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: The Sheriff knows something of Norman's background and is willing to give him a second chance. Unfortunately he has absolutely no idea that Norman is being deliberately pushed over the edge.
  • Redemption Failure: Norman relapses back to his Ax-Crazy insanity after managing the shenanigans caused by Lila Loomis and her daughter and discovered that Emma Spool was the culprit behind the second film's murders.
  • The Scapegoat: Mary is accused for all the murders of the movie despite her innocence.
  • Settle for Sibling: Lila married Sam. Her resemblance to Marion makes her a likely Replacement Goldfish as well.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: In the end, Norman never returns to a normal life and tragically gives in to his madness.
  • Shout-Out: Mary Samuels' name is almost identical to the alias Marion used—Marie Samuels—when she arrived at the Bates Motel. Norman really should have known better than to take her in.
    • Mary is also the original name of the Marion character in the book.
  • Shovel Strike: Emma Spool's fate.
  • Sequel Hook: The second movie ends with Norman driven insane again, but thought perfectly harmless by the authorities. He's also back at the motel again with "Mother" watching over him.
  • Slimeball: The sleaze bag Warren Toomey, who sells drugs to kids, runs a prostitution ring, and sexually harasses Mary.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Sheriff Hunt gives a brief one to Mary.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • A teenage couple actually breaks into the basement of a well-known Serial Killer so they could have sex. Even worse is that the boy stands and watches as the knife-wielding killer approaches the door, only trying to escape when it's far too late.
    • Toomey thinks it's a good idea to harass and aggravate Norman, in spite of knowing full well that he's a former Serial Killer. After making Norman reach his Rage Breaking Point, he flat-out dares him to kill him. He winds up dead, though only because Mrs. Spool, who's the actual killer this time around, took offense to this.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass:
    • Lila Loomis went from the noble hero she was in the first film into an amoral bitch who spends her time criticizing Norman and basically trying to disturb a man who has already paid his debt to society.
    • Warren Toomey. He's clearly a slimeball from the get-go, but he has no problem with Norman and is even somewhat cordial with him due to initially thinking Norman would become his motel business partner and hoped to get his approval of his monetarily successful, but shady business methods until he is fired and put in his place. Then he becomes an antagonistic asshole towards that goes out of his way to harass Norman in retaliation for firing him.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Norman went from an Affably Evil Serial Killer into a cute Socially Awkward Hero trying to live a normal life and make new friends.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Because of what Lila and Mary did, Norman is back to his old ways, but events have convinced the authorities and townspeople that he is a sane and harmless would-be victim that no one needs to worry about.
  • Wham Line: Mary addressing Lila as her mother.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Lila's goal in this movie is to drive Norman insane again so he'll be re-committed for the rest of his life. Nevermind the fact that Norman has done his time, been declared sane by the state, and paid his debt to society, he's also a former mentally-ill serial killer. Even without the other events of the plot, Lila provoking Norman could have potentially driven him to murder again and the potential deaths would have been HER FAULT.
    • Although, all things considered, it's hard not to sympathize with her. Her sister's murderer walks free, while his victims remain dead, and their loved ones with a burden they'll have to bear for the rest of their days, though plan is still completely idiotic.
    • The sheriff calls out Mary for helping gaslight Norman and demands she leave town.