Digi-Schlock: PSYCHO II (Scream Factory Blu-Ray)

When Scream Factory first hit the genre home video scene, its ace in the hole was its access to the back catalog of Universal horror titles from the ’80s. This resulted in great special edition releases of titles like They Live and Halloween III. ’80s horror fans will be happy to know that Scream Factory is continuing this trend – and one of the latest Universal gems they’ve turned up is Psycho II. Their new disc gives this fan favorite the special edition treatment for the first time on U.S. home video and it does a good job paying tribute to one of horror cinema’s greatest sequels.

Psycho II looks very nice in the new high-def transfer included here: the colors look natural, the imagery has a fine level of detail and the black levels are nice and thick during the frequent shadowy interior sequences. Both 2.0 and 5.1 lossless stereo mixes are included for this transfer. The 5.1 option was listened to for this track and it does an effective job of spreading Jerry Goldsmith’s lush musical score throughout the speakers as well as some good surround effects during a few big shocks.

Though many of the principals involved in the production have passed on, the Scream Factory crew has assembled a decent roster of extras here. First up is a commentary track with screenwriter Tom Holland and moderator Robert Galluzzo, who helmed the Psycho Legacy documentary. Since the two men have worked together on the aforementioned documentary, they have an easygoing rapport that ensures this track hits the ground running. Holland discusses how the film began as a t.v. project and graduated to big-screen status, the scene Perkins requested as an addition to the script and the reasons behind particular story choices.

Holland worked with director Richard Franklin from the project’s inception and attended the shoot, so he’s able to offer a lot of scene-specific commentary on casting choices, where scenes were shot, etc. Given his documentarian status, Galluzzo reveals himself to be no slouch when it comes to trivia on the Psycho films and peppers the track with all manner of factoids. It all adds up to a cheerful, energetic and info-heavy track that Psycho fans will enjoy listening to.

In an unusual move for a Scream Factory special edition, this disc of Psycho II has no featurettes. In their place is a 35-minute piece entitled “Cast And Crew Interviews,” which is actually the electronic press kit Universal produced for the film’s release in 1983. It opens with a trailer, then offers about 25 minutes’ worth of interview footage as well as some scenes from the film and some raw “on the set” footage (it was likely designed to be divided up into chunks of a few minutes to be used in t.v. news segments on the film).

Perkins, Franklin, Vera Miles and Janet Leigh are all interviewed in this piece – and while their comments have the positive tone expected for an EPK, there are some interesting bits, including Perkins’ description of the film’s visual style being “black & color” and Leigh describing how Hitchcock laid out what her duties were as an actress in his film.

Cast and crew interviews also serve as an alternate audio options for the film: there’s only about 15 minutes worth of material to be heard here but it’s worth checking out because it is different from the interview snippets used in the electronic press kit, including Franklin telling a fun story about how Hitchcock got the first film’s shower scene past the censors.

There is also a series of trailers: a teaser, a full theatrical trailer and four t.v. spots. All are a nice throwback to the days when trailers didn’t give away the entire movie – and one noteworthy t.v. spot is particularly unique because it features almost zero dialogue and works as a montage of shocks. It’s interesting to note that both theatrical trailers and one of the t.v. spots make a point of reintroducing audiences to Psycho‘s famous shower scene. The final inclusion is a click-thru image gallery that offers a variety of stills, publicity photos and ad mats.

All in all, this is a nice addition to the blu-ray shelf for Psycho series fans. Universal’s horror catalog is in good hands with Scream Factory.

To read Schlockmania’s film review of Psycho II, click here.

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