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Section Header
Psycho II
Composed, Conducted, and Produced by:
Jerry Goldsmith

Orchestrated by:
Arthur Morton

Varèse Sarabande

Release Date:
March 16th, 1990

Also See:
Basic Instinct

Audio Clips:
2. Main Title (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

4. Mother's Room (0:31):
WMA (211K)  MP3 (269K)
Real Audio (189K)

5. It's Not Your Mother (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

7. The Cellar (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

Regular U.S. release, but long out of print and selling for $150 or more.


Psycho II
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Used Price: $68.99

Sales Rank: 446592

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Buy it... only if you trust Jerry Goldsmith to follow Bernard Herrmann with a respectfully different, conservative, atmospheric score that takes no chances.

Avoid it... if you find Goldsmith's textural work for dissonant synthesizer effects and restrained orchestra to be underwhelming, especially when packaged on a very short, out of print album.

Psycho II: (Jerry Goldsmith) It is tremendously difficult to follow a universally beloved classic film with a worthy sequel, and even more daunting to try to do it after more then two decades have passed. Long after Alfred Hitchcock's masterpiece Psycho had solidified its reputation as a qualified classic, the concept experienced an odd resurrection in the 1980's. Neither the 1983 nor 1986 sequels attempted to compete with the original 1960 film's brilliance, but they rather sought to take advantage of the singular, fascinating character at their center. It is this lingering interest in Norman Bates from both audiences and actor Anthony Perkins that fueled this unlikely franchise, with Perkins himself directing the surprisingly effective third picture to further solicit pity for his troubled character. In both sequels, Perkins is once again perched above his famous motel, though Psycho II shows his release from prison after his supposed reformation and attempts to give his homecoming a softer edge by offering him a newly found female friend and roommate. As we well know, however, Bates' mother continues to haunt him to the bitter end, prompting him to kill without warning despite the fact that he is well aware by now that he is insane. While critics seem to agree that the third Psycho film is better than the second, Psycho II did feature a score by Jerry Goldsmith (the third was assigned to Carter Burwell). Goldsmith was a friend of Bernard Herrmann, of course, whose score for Psycho is both a classic and instantly recognizable for its slashing shower cue. Often joking about the use of Herrmann's music as temp track material in assignments for which he was to write (once exclaiming to director Frank Schaffner, "Not Benny again!"), Goldsmith was probably the only natural choice for Psycho II. If anybody could write music that could extend the same general character of Herrmann's score without stepping on its toes, then Goldsmith would be that composer. Not surprisingly, the soundtrack for Psycho II is extremely conservative in its approach, avoiding the technique employed for the classic film's remake many years later (which received an overly loyal imitation by Danny Elfman) and instead paying a short tribute to Herrmann at the start before moving on to mostly fresh territory.

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The film opens with a re-showing of the famous shower scene from Psycho, complete with Herrmann's music (but strangely not including the memorable ending of the scene), and this tribute opens the score's only album release as well. After this burst of energy, Goldsmith takes over with a score that is far more subdued and textural than you might think. His title theme is one of distant romanticism, melancholy and lonely in performance while featuring some warmth in the underlying composition. The sparse duet between piano and synthesizer includes a counterpoint technique similar to that heard two decades later in John Ottman's Gothika. It's a pretty theme that is presented in the opening and closing titles and in less coherent variations in between (except for the slightly hopeful twist in "New Furniture"). It succeeds in giving Bates some sympathy but is, by necessity, equally cold. The remainder of the score is largely atmospheric, using slurring string techniques and other slight dissonance to regularly maintain a hazy atmosphere of unease. Some of this material, when the strings are allowed to explore clearer lines, foreshadows Basic Instinct. The employment of electronics on top of an otherwise regular orchestral ensemble gives the work its detached personality. There are a few repeating motifs, such as an octave-descending figure for violins that is frequently used as punctuation. A few small nods to Herrmann exist in the plucky strings and muted brass of "Mother's Room," though a return to Goldsmith's deep electronic groans quickly pulls the score back into the composer's comfort zone. Another short recognition of Herrmann's score comes about a minute into "The Cellar," at which point Goldsmith strikes with pulses on synthesizer and brass that basically emulate the famed slashing string effect. The score features very little cohesive action material, with the most lengthy performance of any volume existing in the second half of "It's Not Your Mother," a cue that, with the aid of Goldsmith's harshest synthetic tones, serves as a precursor to Gremlins. Only 30 minutes of original Goldsmith music was pressed by Varèse Sarabande on a 1990 CD copy of the LP record, and that product has since become very difficult to find. Its sound quality is significantly muted, detracting from the experience. For all but the most loyal Goldsmith collectors, Psycho II will not be worth the trouble. It suffices without taking any chances, conservatively satisfying but ultimately underwhelming. ** Price Hunt: CD or Download

Bias Check:For Jerry Goldsmith reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.26 (in 113 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.29 (in 135,089 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 2.73 Stars
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 Track Listings: Total Time: 31:08

• 1. The Murder - composed by Bernard Herrmann (0:57)
• 2. Main Title (1:37)
• 3. Don't Take Me (4:48)
• 4. Mother's Room (4:01)
• 5. It's Not Your Mother (5:11)
• 6. New Furniture (2:04)
• 7. The Cellar (4:02)
• 8. Blood Bath (3:37)
• 9. End Title (4:13)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert includes no extra information about the score or film.

  All artwork and sound clips from Psycho II are Copyright © 1990, Varèse Sarabande. The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 7/24/09 (and not updated significantly since). Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2009-2013, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.