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Psycho II
1990 Varèse

2014 Intrada

Composed, Conducted, and Produced by:
Jerry Goldsmith

Orchestrated by:
Arthur Morton

Labels and Dates:
Varèse Sarabande
(March 16th, 1990)

Intrada Records
(April 1st, 2014)

Also See:
Basic Instinct
Psycho (1998)

Audio Clips:
1990 Album:

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)

The 1990 Varèse album was a regular U.S. release that fell out of print and sold for $150 or more. The 2014 Intrada expansion is a limited product of unspecified quantities, originally available through soundtrack specialty outlets for $20.


Psycho II
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Our Price: $20.99

Sales Rank: 98900

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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 with the concept.

Avoid it... if you find Goldsmith's carefully subdued, textural work for dissonant synthesizer effects and restrained orchestra to be underwhelming, especially given its redundancy on both of this score's album presentations.

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, of course, was a friend of Bernard Herrmann, 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. 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 introduces the score's album releases as well.

After the burst of energy provided by the Herrmann reference to begin Psycho II, Goldsmith takes over with a score that is far more subdued and textural than you might imagine when pondering this franchise. 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 on strings in the opening and closing moments 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. Some 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 eventually became very difficult to find. A limited and expanded 2014 alternative from Intrada serves this score well in a nice presentation, even if most of the additional material is redundant. The sound quality on both albums is muted (significantly so on the original CD), 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 your interest in the composer but ultimately underwhelming when approached for ambient pleasure. ** 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 3.26 (in 138,584 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 3.02 Stars
Smart Average: 2.99 Stars*
***** 35 
**** 34 
*** 48 
** 38 
* 31 
  (View results for all titles)
    * Smart Average only includes
         40% of 5-star and 1-star votes
              to counterbalance fringe voting.
   Re: Agreed, a solid four star score
  Oscar G. -- 6/9/14 (11:24 a.m.)
   Two Stars ?
  Michael -- 5/15/14 (1:57 p.m.)
   Re: whats the piece norman bates played on ...
  Psycho -- 10/19/10 (10:54 a.m.)
   whats the piece norman bates played on the ...
  dawn -- 9/26/10 (8:47 p.m.)
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 Track Listings (1990 Varèse Album): 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)

 Track Listings (2014 Intrada Album): Total Time: 73:53

• 1. The Murder - composed by Bernard Herrmann (0:59)
• 2. Psycho II - Main Title (1:39)
• 3. The House (1:51)
• 4. Mother's Hand (1:54)
• 5. Old Weapons (0:41)
• 6. Cheese Sandwich (0:31)
• 7. Mother's Room (2:05)
• 8. Out to Lunch (2:00)
• 9. No Note (1:05)
• 10. The Peep Hole (1:47)
• 11. Toomy's Death (1:11)
• 12. Peep Hole #2 (Revised) (0:55)
• 13. Mother's Room #2 (4:28)
• 14. Basement Killing (1:18)
• 15. New Furniture (0:44)
• 16. It's Starting Again (0:40)
• 17. A Night Cap (1:08)
• 18. Blood Bath (4:01)
• 19. Don't Take Me (5:39)
• 20. She's Not Dead (1:16)
• 21. Hello Mother (2:52)
• 22. The Cellar (4:48)
• 23. It's Not Your Mother (5:11)
• 24. Expected Guest (2:44)
• 25. Psycho II - End Title (Revised) (4:18)

The Extras: (17:19)
• 26. Sonata #14 (Moonlight), Op. 27, No. 2 - 1st Mvt (Beethoven) (1:51)
• 27. Sonata #8 (Pathetique), Op. 13 - 2nd Mvt (Beethoven) (1:04)
• 28. Peep Hole #2 (Original) (0:56)
• 29. Mother's Room #2 (Alternate No. 1) (4:28)
• 30. Mother's Room #2 (Alternate No. 2) (4:28)
• 31. Psycho II - End Title (Original Version) (4:18)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert of the 1990 Varèse album includes no extra information about the score or film. That of the 2014 Intrada album features notes about both.

  All artwork and sound clips from Psycho II are Copyright © 1990, 2014, Varèse Sarabande, Intrada Records. 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 last updated 5/11/14. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2009-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.