After 22 years in a mental institution, Norman Bates has been cured of his insanity and accepted that his mother is dead. As such, the court has him released. Lila Loomis, sister of Marion Crane, vehemently protests, but her plea is dismissed. Against the advice of Dr. Bill Raymond, Norman takes up residence in his old home behind the Bates Motel. He reports to a prearranged job at a nearby diner, run by an old lady named Emma Spool. After work, a young waitress at the diner, Mary Samuels, has been thrown out of her boyfriend's place. Norman offers to let her stay at the motel, then extends the offer to his home when he discovers that the motel's new manager, Warren Toomey, has been using the motel for dealing drugs and other sleazy activities. He immediately fires Toomey.
Norman's adjustment back into society appears to be going well until he begins to get mysterious notes from "Mother" at the house and diner. Phone calls come from someone claiming to be Norman's mother. The next day, a drunk Toomey picks a fight at the diner. Norman suspects Toomey of sending the notes and making the phone calls. Becoming increasingly sympathetic to and impressed by Norman's fight to keep his sanity, Mary takes up permanent residence in a guest room at his house.
A figure in a black dress stabs Toomey to death as he is packing to leave the motel. As Norman is renovating his motel, he hears voices in the house. He enters his mother's bedroom to find it exactly as it was 22 years ago. A sound lures him to the attic, where he is locked in. A teenage couple sneaks in through the cellar window to make out. They notice a female figure pacing in the next room. As they try to climb out, the boy is stabbed to death. The girl escapes and alerts police. Mary finds Norman in the attic and he shows her his mother's bedroom, only to find it back to its state of disuse. The sheriff arrives and questions them about the boy's murder. Mary claims they were out walking together at the time. After the sheriff leaves, Norman rebukes her for lying. He fears he may have killed the boy, since Mary told him the attic was unlocked when she found him.
That evening, Mary and Norman find a bloody article of clothing that has been stuffed down the toilet. Norman is horrified, believing he committed another murder, but Mary insists he is innocent. Mary goes down to check the motel. In the parlor she is surprised by Lila, who is Mary's mother. Lila and Mary have been making the phone calls and notes, even posing at the window dressed as Norma Bates. Mary altered Norma's room and locked Norman in the attic so she could change it back. All of this was an attempt to drive Norman insane again and have him recommitted. However, Mary's growing friendship with Norman has made her convinced he is no longer capable of killing. She suspects someone else is in the house, pointing out that Norman was locked in the attic at the time of the boy's death.
Dr. Raymond discovers Mary's identity as Lila's daughter and tells Norman that Mary and Lila must be the ones harassing him. He also has the corpse of Norma Bates exhumed, to prove Norman is not being haunted by his mother. Norman is only partially convinced, saying the one behind everything must be his "real mother", despite there being no record of him being adopted. Norman confronts Mary with what Dr. Raymond told him. She says that she has given up her part in Lila's ruse, but Lila will not stop. Later, Norman becomes too terrified to leave his room, saying he saw his real mother in the house. Mary admits to Norman that his sanity is beginning to erode and stays to comfort him.
While Lila is retrieving her "Mother" costume from a loose stone in the cellar floor, a figure steps out of the shadows and murders her. Meanwhile, the police dredge the swamp and find a car, with Toomey's body in the trunk. Mary runs to the house to try to convince Norman to flee. The phone rings, Norman answers, and starts speaking to "Mother". Mary listens in; nobody is on the line with Norman. While Norman debates with "Mother" about her command to kill Mary, Mary runs into the cellar and dresses up as Mother, complete with butcher knife, in an unsuccessful bid to get Norman to "hang up". Dr. Raymond grabs her from behind, thinking he has caught her in the act of trying to drive Norman insane, and in her fright Mary plunges the butcher knife into his heart. Confronted by the sight of "Mother" standing over Dr. Raymond's bloody corpse, Norman's sanity snaps and he advances upon Mary, babbling. Mary backs into the fruit cellar and stumbles upon Lila's body, buried in a pile of coal. Assuming Norman is responsible, Mary raises her knife to kill him but is shot dead by the incoming police. The ensuing investigation is inconclusive, but in light of an overheard argument between Mary and Lila, Mary's attempt to kill Norman, and her dressing as Norma Bates, the police deduce Mary most likely committed all the murders.
That evening, Emma Spool, the diner manager, visits Norman. Spool believes herself to be his real mother, saying that Mrs. Bates was her sister, who adopted Norman as an infant while Spool was institutionalized. She reveals that she was the murderer, having killed anybody who tried to harm her son. In response, Norman strikes her in the head with a shovel, killing her. He then begins pretending she is Norma Bates, carrying the body upstairs to Mother's room, and insinuating in Mother's voice that he will resume killing young women who stay at the motel.Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates
Vera Miles as Lila Loomis
Robert Loggia as Dr. Bill Raymond
Meg Tilly as Mary Samuels
Dennis Franz as Warren Toomey
Hugh Gillin as Sheriff John Hunt
Robert Alan Browne as Ralph Statler
Claudia Bryar as Emma Spool
Ben Hartigan as Judge
Lee Garlington as Myrna
Jill Carroll as Kim
In 1982, author Robert Bloch published his novel Psycho II, which satirized Hollywood slasher films. Concerned by this, Universal decided to make their own version that differed from Bloch's work. Director Richard Franklin, who was Hitchcock's student and even visited him on the set of Topaz, was hired to direct Psycho II. Universal hired writer Tom Holland to write the screenplay.
Hilton A. Green, assistant director of the original Psycho, was contacted and asked if he wanted to produce the film. Green, fearing that Hitchcock may not have approved of sequels to his films, called Hitchcock's daughter Patricia Hitchcock and asked what she thought of the film. Patricia Hitchcock gave her blessing to the film; saying that her father would have loved it.
Originally, the film was intended as a made-for-cable production. Anthony Perkins originally turned down the offer to reprise the role of Norman Bates, but when he read the script he agreed to do the film. Perkins said "When I received Tom Holland's script, I liked it very much. It was really Norman's story..." Before landing Perkins, the studio was exploring recasting the part and Christopher Walken was among those considered.
Principal photography of Psycho II took place at Universal Studios in Universal City, California on Soundstage 24 from June 30-August 13, 1982. The Bates house set was still standing from 1960, but the motel had to be reconstructed. According to Richard Franklin, filming lasted 32 days. The film was made much like the first film, it was mostly shot on the Universal backlot and in a number of sound stages. Several props and set pieces from the original film were found by set designers John W. Corso and Julie Fletcher. The town of Fairvale (seen when Lila Loomis is tailed by Dr. Raymond) is actually Courthouse Square, which is located on the Universal Studios backlot in California.
Both Franklin and Holland wanted the film to be a tribute to Alfred Hitchcock and the original film. To accomplish this, they added various in-jokes such as the scene when Mary and Norman first go into Norman's mother's room, before they turn the lights on, Alfred Hitchcock's silhouette is visible on the wall to the far right. Franklin also repeated various shots from the original film such as the shot where Norman walks into the kitchen and sets his jacket down on the chair. The final pages of the shooting script were not distributed to cast and crew until the last day of filming.
The last shot of the film with Norman standing in front of the house was used as a Christmas card for various crew members. When Universal presented concept art for the one sheet film poster, director Franklin was not pleased with it. It was editor Andrew London who came up with the idea of using the Christmas card photo as the film poster and also came up with the tagline: It's 22 years later and Norman Bates is coming home.
Composer John Williams was considered to do the score for the film, but it was decided to go with composer Jerry Goldsmith. Goldsmith was a long-time friend of original film composer Bernard Herrmann. On some film assignments Goldsmith would discover that the director had used some of Herrmann's music from other films as temporary soundtracks. Goldsmith would often joke when he discovered this ("Not Benny again!"); when he conducted a rerecording of "The Murder" for the opening of Psycho II he suggested that Herrmann "must be rolling over in his grave."
Goldsmith had written a theme for Norman Bates that was rejected but used for Segment 2 of Twilight Zone: The Movie.
MCA Records released a 30-minute album on LP and cassette; in 2014 Intrada issued the complete score.
Intrada track listing (cues in bold appear on the original album):
- The Murder – Bernard Herrmann 0:59
- Psycho II – Main Title 1:39
- The House 1:51
- Mother's Hand 1:54
- Old Weapons 0:41
- Cheese Sandwich 0:31
- Mother's Room 2:05 (called "New Furniture" on the 1983 album)
- Out To Lunch 2:00
- No Note 1:05
- The Peep Hole 1:47
- Toomy's Death 1:11
- Peep Hole #2 (Revised) 0:55
- Mother's Room #2 4:28 (called "Mother's Room" on the 1983 album)
- Basement Killing 1:18
- New Furniture 0:44
- It's Starting Again 0:40
- A Night Cap 1:08
- Blood Bath 4:01
- Don't Take Me 5:39
- She's Not Dead 1:16
- Hello Mother 2:52
- The Cellar 4:48
- It's Not Your Mother 5:11
- Expected Guest 2:44
- Psycho II – End Title (Revised) 4:18
- Sonata #14 (Moonlight), Op. 27, No. 2 – 1st Mvt - Ludwig van Beethoven 1:51
- Sonata #8 (Pathetique), Op. 13 – 2nd Mvt - Ludwig van Beethoven 1:04
- Peep Hole #2 (Original) 0:56
- Mother's Room #2 (Alternate No. 1) 4:28
- Mother's Room #2 (Alternate No. 2) 4:28
- Psycho II – End Title (Original Version) 4:18
When the film opened on June 3, 1983, it earned $8,310,244 in its opening weekend at No. 2 (behind Return of the Jedi) and went on to gross over $34 million.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, it holds a 61% approval rating and an average rating of 5.3/10 based on 33 reviews. Film critic Roger Ebert said that, while the film sustained the suspenseful atmosphere of the original and is better than the average slasher film, the film was too heavy on the plot and was too willing to cheat about its plot to be successful. In Empire, film critic Kim Newman gave the film three out of five stars, calling Psycho II "a smart, darkly-comic thriller with some imaginative twists", writing, "The wittiest dark joke is that the entire world wants Norman to be mad, and ‘normality’ can only be restored if he’s got a mummified mother in the window and is ready to kill again."
Psycho II has been released five times on DVD. The initial release came in 1999 when Universal Studios leased the film out to GoodTimes Home Video in a 1.33:1 open matte transfer. The second release came in 2005 from Universal itself. The third release came in 2007 as part of a triple feature package with Psycho III and Psycho IV: The Beginning. Shout Factory, under their Scream Factory logo, released Psycho II on DVD & Blu-Ray on September 24, 2013 under their "Collector's Edition" line-up.
On May 8, 2013, RiffTrax released a VOD commentary on the film. On September 2, 2014, Universal released Psycho II, Psycho III, Psycho IV: The Beginning and the 1987 TV-movie Bates Motel on DVD as part of its "4-Movie Midnight Marathon Pack".