I - IV
Gillies on March 23, 2005
| Universal (Australia). Region 2 & 4 PAL. Psycho 1.78:1, Psycho II 4:3, Psycho III 1.78:1, Psycho IV 4:3. Psycho English DD 1.0, Psycho II English DD 5.1, French DD 5.1, German DD 5.1, Italian DD 2.,0 Spanish DD 2.0, Psycho III English DD 5.1, French DD 5.1, German DD 2.0, Italian DD 5.1, Spanish DD 2.0, Psycho IV English DD 5.1 French DD 2.0 German DD 5.1 Italian DD 5.1 Spanish DD 2.0 Subtitles - Psycho English Greek Hungarian Czech Arabic Turkish Psycho II English French German Italian Spanish Portuguese Dutch Swedish Danish Finnish Norwegian Hebrew Arabic Russian Turkish Greek Psycho III English French German Italian Spanish Portuguese Dutch Swedish Danish Finnish Norwegian Hebrew Arabic Russian Turkish Greek Psycho IV English French German Italian Spanish Portuguese Dutch Swedish Danish Finnish Norwegian Hebrew Arabic Russian Turkish Greek. 393 minutes
Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho contains some of the most shocking and classic
sequences ever produced on film. These days, Psycho is considered a classic horror film, using techniques
and imagery never before seen to shock and frighten
people (back in the day). But do those Hitchcock
enthusiasts know there were three knock-off sequels
made in the 80s that continued the story? Well,
that depends. I know I had no idea there were
sequels until I saw a batted Psycho IV
– The Beginning VHS at a video
shop. "They made four of these movies?"
Yes, apparently they did. And Universal has released
all four films together on DVD for the first time
|Director: Alfred Hitchcock
(I), Richard Franklin (II), Anthony Perkins (III),
Mick Garris (IV)
Starring: Anthony Perkins,
Martin Balsam, Meg Tilly, John Gavin, Ben Hartigan,
Claudia Bryar, Dennis Franz, Hugh Gillin, Robert
Alan Browne, Janet Leigh, Robert Loggia, John
McIntire, Vera Miles
Screenplay: Joseph Stefano
(I & IV), Tom Holland (II), Chales Edward
Music: Bernard Herrmann
Year: 1960, 1983, 1986,
In Psycho, Marion Crane steals
a sum of money from her workplace, and runs for
the hills. She takes refuge at a lonely motel
run by the mysterious Norman Bates, who has issues
with his mother. After being brutally murdered
in the shower by an unknown assailant dressed
in a woman's getup, Marion's sister
and (now ex) lover seek to discover what really
happened at the Bates Motel.
Now, I know everyone knows what happens in Psycho,
but for the three of you who don't, I must
warn that this next paragraph will spoil the twist
in the first film.
Psycho II takes place many years
after the original, and has Norman released on
the basis that he is cured, and moving back to
the Bates Motel, where he is plagued by the memory
of his mother. Vera, Marion's sister from
the first film (played by the same actress) is
back, and wants Norman locked away, and as more
deaths occur, it only strengthens her argument
that Norman should be put away forever. Psycho
III continues where the previous film
left off, with Norman re-opening the Motel with
another killing spree in the goriest instalment
of the series. Finally, Psycho IV –
The Beginning, as it suggests, tells
the story of how Norman Bates came to kill his
own mother, and the back-story behind Norman.
Many may feel that Psycho didn't
need sequels, and in essence, they're probably
right. Psycho was a one off and
well-told story; it didn't need three extra
films. However, with that said, I must say I loved
and enjoyed Psycho II –
IV. The campy 80s slasher feel that was generated
in Parts II and III, along with the surprisingly
fascinating story of Part IV have ensured that
the Psycho Series is one really
Alfred Hitchcock's approach to shock the
audience with his then powerful film worked well
and the film is still talked about today. Although
personally, I don't like Hitchcock as a
director (I think his movies are slow and he's
overrated), he still knows what he's doing
and does it well. Psycho had
a great cast and script. Anthony Perkins is a
remarkable actor, and plays Bates astonishingly
well. For a 1960s film, where many now consider
the acting outdated, Perkins pulls of what I believe
to be a real portrayal of a complicated character.
And who can forget Janet Leigh's memorable
portrayal of Marion Crane, who received top billing,
but didn't make it to the closing credits.
Joseph Stefano's adaptation of the original
novel is done well. Slowed down by director Hitchcock,
the script is a well written and an engaging one.
Although I love the story, the movie itself can
be sometimes slow and boring, however, my opinion
seems null compared to the masses that adore the
I was very sceptical about the sequels; who
wouldn't be? But after viewing them, I found
them to be thoroughly entertaining. Psycho II
and III went in a different direction, creating
a slasher mystery, which seemed to mix the storytelling
mode of Psycho with that of a Friday the 13th film. And they're
surprisingly gory as well! Compared to Psycho's
no gore, Psycho II and III definitely make up
for it with some rather graphic (yet obviously
dated) special effects. Psycho IV –
The Beginning tells an interesting story,
through adult Norman Bates who recounts his life
to a radio presenter on air. The story, written
by Psycho scribe Joseph Stefano,
is delightfully informative and never boring.
I thought it would be a horrible idea, doing a
prequel story, but it was achieved successfully
and managed to keep me entertained.
Norman Bates made cinema history in 1960 and
continued to be a character that I really loved
to watch unfold as the story progressed. From
the original classic to the enjoyable sequels,
the Psycho Collection is a set that horror fans
should definitely check out.
|The video presentations on all four films aren't
anything to write home about. Psycho has a non-anamorphic widescreen presentation in
original Black & White. The print, although
relatively clean, is a little soft and fuzzy,
and suffers from grain and blemishes throughout.
Certain scenes are more obvious than others. With
that being said, the Black and white tones are
very easy to see, and it is clear the movie was
shot well to work with the tones, and not against
them. Night scenes are well lit, and are visually
satisfying on the disc.
Psycho II however is a disappointment.
The movie is shown fullscreen (what I assume is
open matte, definitely not pan and scan) and the
print is hardly pleasing. Although unlike Psycho,
the movie boasts full and magnificent colours.
In fact, the colours are so strong they seem over
exaggerated to make up for the last film. The
DVD presents the colours well, however the print
suffers from a lot of grain and blemishes. The
transfer is not very crisp either, and has a fuzzy
feel to it.
Universal messes with our heads once again,
and delivers Psycho III in a non-anamorphic widescreen transfer.
The film is notably darker in tone and suffers
from grain and blemishes. The transfer seems to
be of lesser quality than Psycho II,
but this may also be due to the cinematography
of the film, and not the visual presentation.
Finally, Psycho IV – The Beginning is presented in its original fullscreen presentation,
since it was made for TV. It has the best print
of the four films, probably due to it being the
newest. The print is much cleaner than the others,
and edges are more detailed, and less fuzzy. There
is less grain, and blemishes aren't present
as often as the other prints. The colour is rich
yet not too strong.
|Psycho is presented in its
original mono track, which sounds decent enough,
once you get it to work. I had difficulty with
this, maybe it's my DVD player, but I found
with my 5.1 speaker set up, the mono came through
very softly. I had to turn off my back speakers
through the set up, and only then did it play
the soundtrack at an audible level. Apart from
that, the sound was good. For an 1960 movie, sounds
were clear, dialogue was good and the musical
score – one of Psycho's best elements
– came through sounding great.
Psycho II, III and IV are all presented in a
useless 5.1 Dolby Digital mix. I say useless because
these movies don't need extra speakers for
sound. In fact, I didn't even notice when
the extra speakers were used. I'm sure it
was mainly the odd sound effect used to scare
the audience. However, dialogue is consistent,
the score comes out well, and the one advantage
to the 5.1 mix is that things are more spread
out, making it easier on the ears to listen.
Overall, the sound on this set is pretty weak.
The 5.1 mix is not needed, and something seems
amiss with Psycho's mono soundtrack.
|The first disc, Psycho, is
the original release containing a feature length
making of, trailers, Shower Scene with and without
music, newsreel footage and promotional galleries.
The Making of Psycho is a great
feature length (a little over 90 minutes) documentary
containing interviews with many of the creative
team behind the movie and historians. It's
neither boring nor dull, and fascinates the viewer
with the hows, whys, whos and wheres. Unfortunately,
the rest of the extras are pointless and boring.
The trailers are long and or give away too much
detail. The original trailer is a 6-minute walk
through with director Alfred Hitchcock narrating
and hinting at what happens during the film, completely
taking the fun away. The other trailers are for
the re-issues of the movie, and nothing special.
The Shower Scene with or without music is just
a waste of space. It shows how the scene is less
scary without the music. We've all been
told this; we don't need to see it. This
is just another waste of time. The promotional
photos are neat, with behind the scenes photos,
on set photos and posters for the film. They're
good to look at, but you won't want to keep
going back to them.
The remaining three discs contain only the movies,
no more extras.
|Universal has released a semi decent collection
here. It's great to have all four movies together
in one really nifty package. The best feature to
this set is the packaging, but even that seems a
little budget. The video and audio is just awful,
yet still better than some of the stuff we get today.
And the only special features are seen on the first
disc, but only one of those is worth watching. Universal
get points for releasing the films together for
the first time, but everything else falls flat.
I love the collection, and it sits proudly on my
shelf, but as a DVD set, it is let down by its video
and audio quality, and the lack of features.
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