The Psycho Legacy Documentary
A Complete Review
by Jason Allentoff
During the last ten years, the horror movie craze has gone into overdrive. We originally thought - incorrectly - or at least I did - that movies like Scream and Scary Movie would have ruined the genre. Nope. Not a chance. The slash 'em, slice 'em and dice 'em flicks are alive and well and coming out almost on a yearly basis. Movies like Saw, the remake of Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street and the new Friday the 13th have scared up a new generation of fans. But the granddaddy of horror which almost serves as the blueprint to movie madness is the story of a motel manager and his mother. Of course, Psycho. Ding Ding Ding. You guessed it.
To very loosely quote Dr. Leo Richmond (Simon Oakland) at the end of Hitchcock's classic "to understand it you have to go back four years" - yes that quote is wrong - it's ten years and I shortened it a bit. But there's a reason. Four years ago, I was in college and was running a small site called ThePsychoMovies. It was in no way anything like the current version - for one thing, there were no podcasts and the layout was piss pour. One day while working for the campus radio station, I received an e-mail from a guy named Robert Galluzzo. Who the heck was this? I had never heard of him before. He told me about his ideas to make a Psycho documentary. I thought it was great and totally brushed it off - never even writing back to him.
At the time, the spam was more abundant than any "real" mail. After several attempts to contact me, I finally answered RobG's e-mail's. We had a lengthy conversation and he told me he wants to do something to showcase each of the films in the often-overlooked Psycho film series. He got the idea after Psycho II and III hit DVD in 2005 with no special features. Well, unless you call a trailer a special feature. At that point, I jumped on board as sort of a silent advisor, aide whatever you want to call it.
Months went by and I was in constant contact with RobG. I heard he was successful with lining up interviews with cast and crew and was continuing to research every aspect of everyone's favorite cross-dressing motel operator. I helped get Rob in touch with a few of the interviewees and even sent him some stills I obtained for the site. He also began to return the favor and a friendship began.
Fast forward a few years later - several interviews were completed and I was invited to New York City to tape one as well where I talked about the series and the website. Post production soon began and RobG's labor of love was really taking shape. When it was announced a release was pending I couldn't be happier.
When I received the DVD, I couldn't remove the plastic wrap fast enough. The cover art and graphics are clean and would make any Psycho fan proud. It's also a two disc set which will make a great addition to your Psycho collection. As I stuck it into the player, I felt like a school kid on Christmas morning. After scanning through those annoying "can't skip via chapter" trailers for other DVD's from the releasing company, I got to the main menu. In the menu we see some pictures from the films as original music by Jermaine Stegall, who by the way provides us with a fantastic music score throughout. At times, I had to say "oh wait, that's not Herrmann." He also pays homage to Jerry Goldsmith and Carter Burwell in his versions of Psycho II and III. Awesome music all around!
From the second the documentary starts it delves right into the world of Psycho. We go in chronological order starting with Hitchcock's classic. An opening title sequence is done in true Saul Bass style with some cool graphics thrown in. I'm still trying to figure out how they did some of them.
I must commend RobG and his entire production team for the way the documentary is structured. With a runtime of 87 minutes, it held my attention the whole time. It also did not rehash anything covered in The Making of Psycho featured on the original film's DVD.
The Psycho Legacy features dozens of interviews including Hilton A. Green, Robert Loggia, Tom Holland, Diana Scarwid, Olivia Hussey, Henry Thomas, Mick Garris, Charles Edward Pogue, Katt Shea, Lee Garlington, Juliette Cummins and a panel of horror film buffs, journalists and indie filmmakers. Each is very informative and provides plenty of anecdotes and interesting memories to move the story forward. The holy grail featured in the doc and as a special feature is a Fangoria panel discussion with Anthony Perkins from 1988. In it, we see a side of Perkins that many fans never saw before. He chats it up with fans on his career and his memories of working on the Psycho films. A must see for Psycho fans and film buffs alike.
RobG managed to obtain permission to use footage and stills from each of the movies. My favorite inclusions have to be the rare stills from the sequels - some I've never seen before. A rare treat in the Psycho II section includes some never before seen on-the-set footage from the set. It's short and I won't give it away but die-hard fans won't be disappointed with what they see.
My only criticism of the documentary, which is something I called Rob and told him after viewing it, was it wasn't long enough. No, it is...but for me, I could watch stuff on Psycho for hours and hours. The special features didn't disappoint. There were plenty of things to keep me busy. I think Psycho fans will enjoy it very much - I don't want to say too much about the doc or the features because you gotta see them for yourselves. In terms of the goodies without telling you too much -- the Psycho reunion panel from Fangoria 2008 was fun, the featurette with Psycho memorabilia collector Guy Thorpe was cool and the sit-down discussion with Tom Holland and Andrew London about Psycho II was great with Rob going through a box of the late Richard Franklin's Psycho-related stuff. I also say a big thanks to Rob for putting the Psycho on the Web featurette together showcasing my interview and website. What a thrill! The Dean Cundey shooting Psycho II segment was a little long, informative but dry. I would have liked to see some stills from the set but the material is great just the same.
In closing, I want to say how awesome The Psycho Legacy really is. I think I've said awesome a little too much but that's what it is - awesome. Rob should be totally proud of himself and the fans will love every minute of his hard work and dedication. So yeah, BUY IT. ENJOY IT. And after you see it, send RobG a note of gratitude and review through our Facebook group.
The Psycho Legacy will be released on Tuesday, October 19th from Shout! Factory. The 2-disc special edition DVD set explores the complete history, impact and mystique of Psycho and the films that it spawned. In addition, the three hours of bonus material will delight the fans and provide a worthy tribute just in time for the anniversary of a horror classic. You can order it right from our website.
THE PSYCHO LEGACY BONUS FEATURES:
Extended and deleted scenes
Full panel discussion with Anthony Perkins
The Psycho reunion panel
A tour of the Bates Motel
Revisiting Psycho II: Psycho II writer Tom Holland and The Psycho Legacy director Robert Galluzzo look through the original blueprints, newspaper clippings and articles and possessions left behind from Psycho II director Richard Franklin
Shooting Psycho II: An interview with cinematographer Dean Cundey
A visit with Psycho memorabilia collector Guy Thorpe
Psycho on the Web
The Hyaena Gallery Presents Serial-Killer-Inspired Art