Alfred Hitchcock's classic slasher picture Psycho has generated a lot of spinoffs over the years -- there was a shot-for-shot remake, a series of film sequels, and a heartwarming TV pilot about what a friendly place the Bates Motel is. Forgotten amongst all of those already-forgettable things is the sequel to the original novel, the aptly named Psycho II.
Despite its appearance, this is not for kids.
The book starts off with an interesting twist: The killer from the original novel, Norman Bates, is killed almost immediately. After escaping a mental hospital dressed as a nun, in fact.
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Trust no nun.
But Bates' physician, Dr. Claiborne, is convinced that the killer is still alive and heading for Hollywood, where a movie based on his life is about to be filmed. He travels there himself, and finds his suspicions sort of confirmed when he sees how much the director, a man named Vizzini, resembles Bates.
Is there such a thing as a "method" technique for directing?
Dr. Claiborne's suspicions are raised even further by some on-set arson and a murder. And wow, this isn't insane at all. This sounds like an exciting book! And it would be, if the story didn't also regularly screech to a halt to get in some jabs at Hollywood society. For example, one chapter opens with a group of famous leading men at a gay orgy, having this unusual conversation:
Merely for printing this, Scientologists will be on our ass for the next 50 years.
Wow. That's ... extremely slanderous. And this has nothing -- nothing -- to do with the plot. We'll later find out these are in fact movie star lookalikes, which only barely makes this okay. But still, there's no reason for this scene, and many like it, to be here. Even the scenes which do belong in the plot are rather icky. Consider how Vizzini gets a boner which comes very close to driving him insane.
"Call a doctor if your erection or psychosis lasts longer than four hours."
Vizzini then hatches a plan to rape the film's leading lady, at which point most readers would probably realize they were holding a physical book they could easily put down whenever they wanted. Anyone brave enough to continue would watch the police confirm that Norman Bates is 100-percent dead. So what the fuck's happening? This:
Yup, Dr. Claiborne was the killer! It turns out that after decades of studying him, Claiborne began to think he was Norman Bates, presumably because the author thought that multiple personality disorder is a communicable disease. A Nazi street shark would've been a better twist.
You know all those facts you've learned about psychology from movies and that one guy at the party who says, "Actually ..." a lot? Please forget them. Chances are none of them are true. Take the Stanford Prison Experiment, the one famous psychology study people can name. It was complete bullshit. Funny story actually, it turns out that when you post flyers that say, "Hey, do you wanna be a prison guard for the weekend? Free food and nightsticks," you might not get the most stable group of young men. So join Jack O'Brien, Cracked staff members Dan O'Brien and Michael Swaim, and Psychology Professor Martie G. Haselton of UCLA as they debunk Rorschach tests, the Mozart effec,t and middle child syndrome, so soon you can be that person at the party who says, "Actually ..." Get your tickets here!
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