October 19th sees the release of The Psycho Legacy, a documentary on the Psycho film series that was directed by fan, journalist and now documentarian Robert V. Galluzzo. He co-founded the popular Icons Of Fright interview website and The Psycho Legacy is a logical extension of that work that offers a 90-minute history of the series (the accompanying DVD set also offers much more via several bonus features). Rob was kind to grant Schlockmania an interview and the result is an informative chat that will take you through the ins and outs of this documentary’s production. Enjoy – and if you like what you read, sales links to The Psycho Legacy are available below…
You’ve worked extensively in fandom as a writer and interviewer – what inspired you to make the leap to documentarian with The Psycho Legacy?
To be honest, a lot of it was naivety on my part. I didn’t have any desire to be a documentarian. Really, I’d been a musician for many, many years and occasionally dabbled with the idea of being a filmmaker; primarily in junior high when I was making VHS videos with friends. Music, however, was truly my passion.
I had co-created Icons Of Fright.com as a labor of love for the genre about 7 years ago and gained quite an education and a lot of experience at interviewing people. I was thinking of ways to apply that elsewhere and I got to thinking about PSYCHO. PSYCHO has always been one of my all time favorite film series and I was disappointed that there wasn’t any material about the making of the sequels. The original is of course a classic and well-documented but I grew up with the sequels and I was fascinated to learn more about them (considering no information was readily available).
I had one friend with a camera, John Torrani, and he was crazy enough to follow me on this journey to see if we could document some of the never-before-heard behind-the-scenes stories regarding the PSYCHO sequels. It started with a few emails and phone calls, pretty much the same process we implemented to get interviews on Icons of Fright and low and behold, before we knew it, we had tons of interview footage together and the beginnings of what eventually became THE PSYCHO LEGACY were there.
As a fan, this is a documentary that I’ve always wanted to exist. So in a weird way, I willed this to happen because otherwise I don’t think anyone ever would’ve made it. Also, I think Laurent Bouzereau’s Making of PSYCHO release is a fantastic documentary. I didn’t want to try to compete with that, nor did I want to repeat the information that was in that, so I look at THE PSYCHO LEGACY as a companion piece to his film. It’s more of an “unofficial” sequel. Watch ’em both back to back and I think you’ve got the entire PSYCHO franchise history covered.
How did the documentary find a home at Shout! Factory?
We brought the documentary to several potential distributors, but Shout Factory was the one that totally got it from the beginning. What impresses me about that company is their desire to deliver really interesting genre fare in the best possible quality. The special editions they’re putting out for the Roger Corman stuff is all stellar, they’re all die-hard horror fans working there, and I get the feeling that they’re doing now what Anchor Bay was doing about a decade ago – really putting quality and care into their genre releases. So once I met with them and found out what huge PSYCHO fans they were, it just seemed like a no-brainer.
You’ve also worked with Shout! Factory on the supplements for some of their Roger Corman Cult Classics releases. How did you get involved with those projects and do you have a favorite memory from working on them?
Oh wow! You know about that! Well, technically I’ve worked with Red Shirt Pictures who provide a lot of the supplemental material for Shout Factory’s releases, mostly their Roger Corman titles. The team consists of Michael Felsher, Aine Leicht and Buz Wallick and every project we’ve worked on together has been a truly fulfilling adventure. The documentary we did for the GALAXY OF TERROR DVD is probably my favorite thing we’ve done thus far because I think we got to speak to just about everyone involved in that film. Andrew Kasch did an amazing job editing that together and personally I think the doc on that disc is better than the actual movie! It’s a great package and I’m thrilled the way GALAXY OF TERROR came out.
Back to the main subject – what’s your favorite Psycho sequel and why? (you gotta pick just one!)
This is the toughest question ever for a fan like myself. I look at all 4 PSYCHO films as the 4 acts of one long story. But if I absolutely had to pick… I’ll go with PSYCHO 3. Mainly because it’s the one I remember most from my childhood and it’s the greatest character study of Norman Bates. It’s PSYCHO 1 if we know the twist and with Perkins directing it, I think he gave us such interesting insight into what’s going on in the mind of Norman Bates. Also, while I obviously have a great deal of affection for the entire documentary, I personally love the PSYCHO 3 segment. I think we got just about everyone for that one and it’s the most interesting stories to me about Anthony Perkins as a director, which I don’t think we’ve ever really heard about before.
What was the most memorable interview you did for The Psycho Legacy? Please feel free to explain why.
I know this is a typical answer but because this whole process took me 3-4 years, I truly savored every single interview and experience along the way. I have an epic story behind each and every single interview; how I got in touch with them, actually meeting these people I grew up admiring, etc.
But I guess the Jeff Fahey interview was pretty magical. He at the time lived out of the country and just happened to be in NJ promoting GRINDHOUSE at a convention. I had tried to schedule some time with him at the convention appearance but there was a bit of miscommunication and he didn’t know I was coming. I explained to him who I was, my intent with the project and how this was a labor of love for me. He was so humble and sweet. He offered to meet me at my cameraman’s apartment in NY a few days later and true to his word, he showed up with his sister to our place.
And the reason I loved the interview so much is because it truly was the first time he’d thought about PSYCHO 3 in 20 years. So getting his natural recollections truly made it stand out. You’ll see in his extended interviews some of the fun banter we had back and forth. Jeff is truly a class act and I love him for being a part of this documentary.
You pared down countless hours of interview footage into 87 minutes. What was the editing process like – and did you have a game plan going in or did you have to “find” the documentary in the editing?
It was very difficult. Again, this is my first feature project so if I can be candid, I didn’t know exactly what I was doing or how I should approach it. But what I quickly realized was that all my writing experience from Icons of Fright to Fangoria magazine through Shock Till You Drop and FearNet all came into play in terms of learning how to edit. It was the same as putting together an article. You’re pulling the best quotes and arranging them in a way to tell an interesting and engaging story.
Plus, I have to give tremendous credit to my editor Jon Maus. He stuck with me every step of the way since day one and never gave up on me, despite how many challenges we faced. I’d hit him with an idea and he’d show me something 10 times better. All the graphics and transitions you’ll see were mostly his ingenuity and passion shining through and I’m glad we were able to bring that out in each other as collaborators.
The interesting thing is I did have a blue-print for how I thought the doc should be, initially I wanted to include everything – the books, the BATES MOTEL TV pilot, the remake; but as we edited it, it became clear that it was actually a documentary about Anthony Perkins portraying the character of Norman Bates through the majority of his life and coming to terms with that. Those other subjects just didn’t fit, so I was pleasantly surprised by how it all came together and I couldn’t be more thrilled with the final result.
You also provided several supplements for the DVD set. Do you have a favorite and, if so, why?
Well, this is obviously not a Universal release so I only was able to use footage and pictures from the actual PSYCHO films in the documentary itself, which meant for the features I had to be really creative. So I tried to think of fun segments that would only compliment the documentary and the series as a whole.
Anything we don’t answer in the actual doc, I’m fairly certain you’ll find in the extended interviews and deleted scenes. Myself, Tom Holland (PSYCHO II’s writer) and Andrew London (PSYCHO II’s editor) did a segment where we look through the possessions left behind by PSYCHO II director Richard Franklin that I think a lot of fans will appreciate. Personally, I get a kick out of the HYAENA GALLERY PRESENTS segment where I talk to artists about the fascination with serial killers and we do a bit of history on Ed Gein, the basis for Norman Bates.
But the entire DVD is worth it for the 45 minute panel with Anthony Perkins from a 1988 convention. I believe his only convention appearance. He’s often rather serious in interview clips that you find on You Tube, but for this, he’s really charming and funny and I’m glad fans will get to see that side of him here. That’s easily my favorite bonus feature.
What was the most difficult moment in the process of making this documentary – and was there a moment that made it all worthwhile?
There a lot of difficult aspects in putting this documentary together but it was all a learning experience and I cherish the entire experience. The moment that made it all worthwhile was seeing the final DVD package from Shout Factory. Opening it up, looking at all the amazing artwork, popping the discs in and seeing the great job they did on the menus and the featurettes. Seeing 3 years of my hard work neatly wrapped in a little DVD package is pretty amazing and I thank them for not only believing in me, but as fellow fans for doing an amazing job with the DVD package too.
I’m actually flirting with several projects after this one and it’s just a matter of which one will take prominence first. There are 2 similar documentary projects I’m looking into that would be a lot of fun, although PSYCHO LEGACY did literally take the life out of me, so I’m approaching with caution! I’m collaborating with filmmaker Drew Daywalt and actor A.J. Bowen on a web-series right now that we’re hoping to start production on within the next month or so.
I also helped produce a series of shorts called TWISTED TALES with Tom Holland writing and directing. The two of us became great friends after I interviewed him for THE PSYCHO LEGACY. And I’m also in the early stages of setting up a passion project, a narrative feature called SOUTH TEXAS BLUES which is being written and directed by Christopher Garetano. Either way, it’s going to be a very busy and productive year and I look forward to getting to all of the above!
Are there any final words you would like to Psycho fans and/or potential viewers?
PSYCHO fans, I am one of you! I made this PSYCHO LEGACY package to complete your PSYCHO collections. If you own everything else, I hope this will round out your set. And if you don’t know anything about the sequels, I hope the documentary will make you seek them out and check them out, because they are consistently great movies that deserve to be celebrated and not forgotten. Thank you all for the support!