Scream! Factory Presents Psycho II, Psycho III & Prince of Darkness (Blu-ray) Official AVSForum Review - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 3 Old 09-21-2013, 07:27 AM - Thread Starter
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Scream! Factory Presents 3 Collectors Edition Blu-ray Releases

Psycho II (1982)

Psycho II (1986)

John Carpenter's Prince Of Darkness (1988)


Shout! Factory rose from the ashes or Rhino Records and has releasing retro pop culture media.
My initial interest was struck when they starting releasing cult classic horror films under the Scream! Factory moniker.


Psycho II


Anthony Perkins makes a terrifying homecoming in his roles as the infamous Norman Bates, who after years of treatment in a mental institution for the criminally insane, has come home to run the Bates Motel. Vera Miles returns as the woman who is still haunted by her sister’s brutal murder and the ominous motel where it all occurred many years ago. Meg Tilly, Robert Loggia and Dennis Franz co-star in the terrifying sequel to Alfred Hitchock’s classic film.

Quick Specs:
Run Time: 113 mins, Rated R, Audio Format: English 4.0 DTS-HD MA, Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1, Region A, Blu-ray Disc release Date: September 24th, 2013.

Quick Thoughts:
I cant imagine he cajones it must have took to make a sequel to Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 Classic Psycho-especially 22 years later. Hitch must have been rolling in his grave. Somehow (a guardian angel?) Psycho II was pretty good. It was more of a "whodunit" with the horror elements. Anthony Perkins was delightfully weird reprising his role of everyone's favorite mama's boy, Norman Bates. Directed by Richard Franklin (Cloak & Dagger, F/X 2) who studied Hitchcocks work, the film brooded along at a perfect pace, keeping the level of paranoia up high the entire run-time. Screenwriter Tom Holland (Fright Night, Child's Play) took on this ultimate challenge and really came up smelling like roses. If you have yet to see this one, it is better than you might anticipate.

On a side note, Psycho author Robert Bloch came out with a sequel novel at the same time. His book was about Norman getting out of jail and traveling to Hollywood where he seeks revenge on the greedy studio who profited by making a picture about him. It seems Universal was a bit off-out by making a film of this idea. I think that Hollands idea was much better.

Shout! Factory does a fine job with its HD transfer of Psycho II. The print is pretty free of pops and scratches and does a nice job letting finer details show through its filmic layer of grain. Blacks are stable with only a few minor moments where shadow details seem to be lost, and colors look natural against the backdrop of the arid Bates Motel landscape. The 5.1 mix was a bit better than I anticipated. Dynamic range was impressive as was its tastefully reserved use of the effects channels. Dialogue was always up in the mix. This one was pleasing on all levels.

Special Features:
All-new Audio Commentary with Screenwriter Tom Holland
Vintage interviews with cast and crew including Anthony Perkins and director Richard Franklin
Vintage audio interviews with cast and crew
TV Spots
Original Theatrical Trailer

Psycho III


The Bates Motel is once again the site of something evil as the rehabilitated Norman attempts to help a disturbed young woman, Maureen Coyle (Diana Scarwid – Mommie Dearest), who has left the convent because she can’t find any proof that God exists. Maureen bears a striking resemblance to one-time Bates Motel guest Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) which puts Norman on edge. At the same time, a nosy reporter is snooping around town looking into Norman’s past. Suspense, terror and black comedy worthy of the master himself are in hearty supply in the most shocking Psycho of them all!

Quick Specs:
Run Time: 93 mins, Rated R, Audio Format: English 25.1 DTS-HD MA, Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1, Region A, Blu-ray Disc release Date: September 24th, 2013.

Quick Thoughts:
Not as rewarding a picture as Psycho II, this follow-up, written by Charles Edward Pogue (The Fly 1986) and directed by Norman Bates himself (Anthony Perkins), stands as a worthy companion to part II. the film itself goes a slight bit off into a more "white-trashy" and weird world, but it does still pay respect to the big footsteps it has to follow. This time around the film relies on many more nod's to Hitchcock's original, and even a nod to Vertigo in the films opening. Perkins brings more comedy to this film, where part II really had none. Again, it plays well as a companion piece to part II, but it doesn't reach the how good that one was.

Video here is similar to part II, as it deals with many dark scenes. Black levels and shadow details seem more stable here. Colors are a bit more poppy, and contrast and fine detail are worthy of a HD release. Somehow, with these better attributes, I liked the over-all look is Part II better. This might lend to the changing of cinematographer from Dean Chundy (Halloween, Back to the Future) to Bruce Surtees (Beverly Hills Cop, Pale Rider). The audio seems to be a step ahead of part II, and this is mainly based on its bolder use of surround channels. Again, this has impressive fidelity and dynamics, and never loses a beat dialogue-wise.

Special Features:
New Audio Commentary with Screenwriter Charles Edward Pogue
Watch The Guitar – New interview with Actor Jeff Fahey
Patsy’s Last Night – New interview with Actress Katt Shea
Mother’s Maker – interview with Special Make-Up Effects Creator Michael Westmore
Body Double – interview with Brinke Stevens
Original Theatrical Trailer

John Carpenter's Prince Of Darkness


A group of graduate students and scientists uncover an ancient canister in an abandoned church, but when they open it, they inadvertently unleash a strange liquid and an evil force on all of humanity. As the liquid turns their co-workers into zombies, the remaining members realize they have released the most unspeakable horror of them all. Terror mounts as the team must fight to save the world from a devilish fury that has been contained for over seven million years.

Starring Donald Pleasence (Halloween), Jameson Parker (Simon & Simon), Lisa Blount (Needful Things), rock icon Alice Cooper and Victor Wong and Dennis Dun (both from Carpenter’s Big Trouble In Little China), this “ingenious twist on classical occultism” (Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy Film Review) will scare you witless!

Quick Specs:
Run Time: 102 mins, Rated R, Audio Format: DTS-HD MA, 2.0 and 5.1 Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1, Region A, Blu-ray Disc release Date: September 24th, 2013.

Quick Thoughts:
Prince of Darkness was one one of my favorite horror flicks growing up. It came out when I was just old enough to sneak away and then sneak into R rated films. I remember really being into the Carpenter stuff around this time, loving this as well as They Live. I have not seen Prince of Darkness in quite sometime, so I was excited to give it a spin on Blu-ray. I found that the film doesn't stand up too well these days, with a slow moving plot that feels like it is almost making up the next step as it goes. Not realizing it then, there really is no true exploitation of the Prince Of Darkness' return here, and what is really going on. All I know is that there is a canister of green stuff in the basement of a church that is becoming active after many years and making people do weird, bad stuff. No real resolve makes it less rewarding as well. The good is Carpenter creates atmosphere in spades, and that is what kept me going this time around. Also, any collaboration between Carpenter and Donald Pleasence is worth a few hours in my book!

This A/V presentation was great. The films score was big and dynamic, sound-stage was wide and 360 degrees, and the mix really created an atmosphere. The video was clean, crisp and free of any noticeable trouble. Colors popped and were still grounded in reality, blacks and contrast were stable while fine details were noticeable on long shots as well as close-ups.

Special Features:
Audio Commentary with John Carpenter
Sympathy For The Devil – An all-new Interview with Writer/Director John Carpenter
Alice at the Apocalypse – An all-new interview with Actor & Rock Legend Alice Cooper
The Messenger – All-new interview with Actor & Special Visual Effects Supervisor Robert Grasmere
Hell On Earth – A look at the film’s score with Co-Composer Alan Howarth
Horror’s Hallowed Grounds with host Sean Clark
Alternate Opening from TV Version
Original Theatrical Trailer


Lee Weber
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review Systems:

JVC DLA-RS56 3D 1080p 3D High Definition Front Projector
Screen Innovations Solar HD 1.3 120" 2.40:1 CinemaScope Screen
Onkyo PR-SC5509 Pre/Pro
Sunfire Theater Grand 7201 Amplifier
Sony BDP-S790 Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Triad InRoom Gold LCR's
Triad OnWall Silver Surrounds
2 Triad Silver OmniSubs

Panasonic TC-P65ZT30 3D 1080p Plasma
Marantz NR1603 Receiver
Sony PS3 (HDMI Audio/Video)
MKSound MP-7 LCR
MKSound SUR-55T Surrounds
MKSound SB-8 Subwoofer
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post #2 of 3 Old 09-22-2013, 05:29 PM
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I am really interested in The Prince of Darkness and I do think it is pretty cool this company is resurrecting these horror movies.

Question are these movies 'limited' release for a short period of time?
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post #3 of 3 Old 09-23-2013, 02:53 PM
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Outstanding! Lee. I enjoy reading your horror reviews, keep up the excellent writing. Big fan of Psycho series as well.
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