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Psycho IV: The Beginning (1990) - Blu-ray Review

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Psycho IV: The Beginning - Blu-ray Review

2 beers

As fond as I am for Anthony Perkins’ acting talents, I have to say that Psycho IV: The Beginning is a film best suited for those looking to complete the Norman Bates experience only.  It is interesting in that it operates as a prequel and as a third sequel to the horror series at the same time.  Unfortunately, that’s where its interest level begins and ends.  It simply isn’t necessary even if Henry Thomas does a heck of a job as the young Norman Bates.

Directed by Mick Garris (Sleepwalkers), Psycho IV was originally aired on Showtime, having been made and produced by the television network.  The lack of details and certain static shots – we open on a close-up of a pair of lips as the a man (not Norman) talks about killing his mother – are dead giveaways that this feature was stamped as made-for-television.  That doesn’t mean the movie is dead on arrival, though.  Perkins is always interesting and CCH Pounder provides a firm foundation in her role as Radio talk show host Fran Ambrose.

The plot – involving Norman Bates’, now living in suburbia with a wife and a baby on the way, ongoing calls into a radio station to discuss matricide and his intent to kill again – winds its way into the past of his youth so that we get to see just how fucked up the relationship was with his mother, played here by Olivia Hussey (who will always be Juliet to me).  His ups and downs, as he struggles with his mental illness, are openly discussed while he relives the 1940s and 1950s and the first killings he committed. 

Unfortunately, the whole production of the movie feels a bit rushed and sophomoric.  Maybe as a result from the odd place we were in when it came to movies in 1990.  There are an alarming number of films from the beginning of that decade that just do not hold up well.  This is one.  The acting talents, featuring Thomas (as mentioned earlier), John Landis, and Twin Peaks regular Warren Frost as Dr. Leo Richmond, keep the movie engaging but the whole of it is sluggish and surprisingly inconsequential.  Norman is cured?  Come again?  Naaah.

While this might be on the enjoyable dumbness level of some of the Elm Street sequels, it falls a bit short as a character study of Norman Bates.  Think Bates Motel is severe?  See those origins here.  Just don’t expect much.

Psycho IV: The Beginning - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: R for violence and sensuality
Runtime:
96 mins
Director
: Mick Garris
Writer:
Joseph Stefano, Robert Bloch
Cast:
Anthony Perkins, CCH Pounder, Henry Thomas
Genre
: Horror | Mystery
Tagline:
You've met Norman... now meet mother.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Oh, I've killed before, and now I'm gonna have to do it again."
Distributor:
Showtime Networks
Official Site:
Release Date:
November 10, 1990
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
August 23, 2016
Synopsis: Norman Bates recalls his days as a young boy living with his schizophrenic mother while fearing his unborn child will inherit his split personality disorder.

Psycho IV: The Beginning - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - August 23, 2016
Screen Formats: 1.78:1
Subtitles
: English
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (48kHz, 24-bit)
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD-50)
Region Encoding: A

Scream Factory FINALLY completes its handling of the Psycho sequels with this release.  The 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 transfer presents a pretty good image with a healthy layer of grain.  Black levels are thick and shadows are heavy.  Contrast is high and the sharpness seems to be accurate.  The only blemishes on the source material are a few specks and errant marks that crop up from time to time.  Colors favor the desert side of the spectrum with lots of earthy textures and a blazing saturate over it all.  The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track delivers strong sound throughout.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • Featuring Director Mick Garris and Actors Olivia Hussey and Henry Thomas, the commentary – as they wax poetic about Perkins – will please fans of the actor and the series.

Special Features:

Interestingly enough, it is the makeup effects artist who does the bulk of the talking on Scream Factory’s release.  He is up front and center in the making of interview that kick starts the supplemental material.  Older video sources make up the rest.  We get an actual look at the recording session of the soundtrack and some other behind the scenes peeks.  A photo gallery rounds out the release.

  • The Making of Mother with Tony Gardner (28 min)
  • Behind the Scenes (13 min)
  • A Look at the Scoring of Psycho IV (6 min)
  • Photo Gallery (6 min)

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