Robert V. Galluzzo sheds some new light on the historic Psycho movie series, particularly the sequels
Have you ever gotten excited about a new DVD coming out, only to be disappointed with the lack of special feature content? It happened to Robert V. Galluzzo a few years back and instead of ranting and raving on message boards and commenting in articles, he did something about it: He made a documentary.
A lifelong horror fan who had contributed as a journalist on numerous horror sites before creating his own site, Icons of Fright, he discovered that when Psycho II and Psycho III were released on DVD back in 2005, there were absolutely no special features. He began to discover that there just wasn't a lot of information out there. Particularly on the sequels to Alfred Hitchcock's original 1960 classic, Psycho. The result of that initial idea is The Psycho Legacy, which will be released on DVD (with over three hours of bonus features, nonetheless) on October 19.
Not-so ironically, October 19 is also the date when the original Psycho makes its Blu-ray debut, just in time for the 50th Anniversary of the horror classic. I had the chance to speak with Robert V. Galluzzo about his new documentary, which delves through all four movies in the series and features interviews with cast and crew members involved in the series, and other horror luminaries.
Here's what he had to say:
Part of my job is reviewing DVD's and I get frustrated as well when there are no special features on a title I enjoy. I read that this was the impetus for making this movie. Can you talk a bit more about how this whole thing came about?
Robert V. Galluzzo: Yeah. It was exactly like you said. I'm a huge fan of these films and one of perks of buying Special Editions is to learn a bit more about the filmmaking process, to see behind-the-scenes of these films we grew up loving. For awhile there, it seemed that every other franchise out there was getting the Special Edition treatment. There were boxed sets for Friday The 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street and so forth. I just came to the realization that over the past couple of years, Psycho had kind of fallen by the wayside. I created a horror website called Icons of Fright and I had written for Fangoria and I noticed that most of the readership didn't even remember or know who Norman Bates was. I found that to be kind of a bummer, because he's one of our biggest cinematic villains ever. I had a friend who had a camera and I reached out to a few people who were involved in the Psycho sequels to see if they would be receptive to talking about their experiences on them. Before I knew it, we were shooting footage. At the time, there wasn't this big craze for retrospective documentaries on horror. All that had existed was Halloween: 25 Years of Terror. Taking a cue from that one, I thought maybe I could collect as many interviews as possible and do something like that, but for Psycho, and just remind kids about Norman Bates and one of the greatest film franchises ever made. That's how it all kind of kicked off.
It's kind of funny now, too, because there are a lot of movies like this, with His Name Was Jason and others, that there's a resurgence of these kinds of documentaries. I believe you also did some work on His Name Was Jason as well?
Robert V. Galluzzo: I did a little bit of work on that. I knew the producers of that documentary and, at the time, I lived in New York and they needed somebody to do the interviews in New York. As a huge Friday fan, I, of course, volunteered and helped out. There are a few images in there where they are talking to me (Laughs). That was a lot of fun. Yeah, it's funny because this sort of thing didn't exist and because I did The Psycho Legacy independently, it took me a long time. I did it all out-of-pocket so it took me awhile to afford it and finish it properly. Then there are all of these others like Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy and His Name Was Jason, all these other ones were coming out and I was like, 'Man, they're all beating me to the punch!' (Laughs) But, I loved them all, because as a die-hard fan, with fans making these things, there's a lot more attention to detail. As a fan, you know what the other fans want to know, so you know what to ask. I think all of the films you've mentioned are all entertaining and great and I love seeing documentaries of this sort, as a big fan of all these franchises.
You mentioned you did this all out-of-pocket and I read that you would take breaks from your day job, a few weeks off here and there, to go and do interviews. Can you talk about that whole process of doing this on your own?
Robert V. Galluzzo: Sure. A lot of people say they're going to do something and they never follow through. I'm kind of a stubborn Italian and I guess I take after my father where if I say I'm going to do something, I'll do it, or else. It was literally sheer determination and enthusiasm for what we were doing. I worked a day job, I'd save up for about three months, then I would fly out to L.A. and book a bunch of interviews then go back and do it all over again. It was a really long process, but every time I went back out to L.A. and got two or three more interviews, it was just such a rewarding experience as a fan. There's no real information on the Psycho sequels. I mean, there's tons of information on the original, which is fine, but I really wanted to complement everything that had already existed by finding out about the sequels because there are so many fascinating people that got their start on a Psycho movie. I just thought it warranted going back to the start of their careers. People like Tom Holland, who went on to do Fright Night and Child's Play, Mick Garris, who created Masters of Horror. Even on the actor front, people like Diana Scarwid, Jeff Fahey, who appeared on Lost recently. I just figured there was so much talent there that I had to go back to Psycho and document it. The more I did, the more fascinated I became. It kept me going because all the stories and footage I was getting, I couldn't wait to share it with other Psycho fans. That's kind of what kept pushing me forward. It was like, 'Well, I'm this far. I might as well save for another three months and keep doing it until we get to the end.' And I didn't plan it to be on the 50th Anniversary. It just took me that long to do it (Laughs).
I read in a previous interview that Richard Franklin was the first person you talked to and the contacts you got from him just snowballed from there. Can you talk about the process of just connecting with all these guys? Was there anyone that you really wanted for this but just couldn't get?
Robert V. Galluzzo: Yeah. Obviously, it would've been amazing to talk to Meg Tilly, about Psycho II, but to the best of my knowledge, she's an author of children's books and it's fairly difficult to get any kind of interview with her because, from what I understand, she doesn't do interviews regarding her film career anymore. Had I gotten in touch with her directly, I think I probably could've convinced her. That's the thing. Everyone I reached out to, once I talked to them, they realized I was coming from a genuine place and I had a lot of enthusiasm for the material and I wasn't going to make them look bad. 99.99% of the people that I did reach out to were just so helpful and wanted to help. Everything I had done leading up until now, all extended from my friendships that I've developed with all these people. Almost any time I call any of these guys for help with something, they're there with bells on and that's just amazing.
Aside from the movie itself, obviously, there are some really cool special features on this. You have a tour of the set and Richard Franklin's collection after he passed away. It must have been amazing going through all that stuff.
Robert V. Galluzzo: Oh yeah. What happened was, Andrew London, the editor of Psycho II, was best friends with (Psycho II director) Richard Franklin. I had contacted and spoken with Richard several times through email and just as I was on the cusp of hiring a crew in Australia to do an interview with him, he unexpectedly passed away. That really bummed me out because he was really pivotal in me getting this going. He was very supportive and I really wanted him to be a part of it, somehow. Andrew had invited me over at one point and I had showed him some footage of the doc and he loved it. He went into this storage space and pulled out all these boxes and he said it was all Richard's stuff and he was sure he wanted me to have it. So I inherited all of this amazing stuff that was leftover from Psycho II, including the original script that has the last three pages, which were notoriously kept from cast and crew until they shot it. I inherited all this great stuff and, when we were putting the DVD together, I'm sure people don't really understand how licensing works and all of that, but I had only licensed footage and pictures of the actual movie for the doc itself. You can't put that stuff on special features, so I had to get creative in terms of what we could do on the special features. One idea I had, I was already good friends with Tom Holland and Andrew London, I thought it would be neat to go through Richard's stuff and see what kind of stories and memories would spark from those guys. It was a lot of fun. They were so cool and it's one of my favorite features on the disc, us going through that stuff. I think a lot of fans of Psycho II will really dig it. As far as the rest of it goes, I just tried to get creative as possible. With the Bates Motel tour, I had shot an interview with John Murray, who is the creative director at Universal, and we shot it right in front of the house. That was literally a one-take, spur-of-the-moment thing. It was like, 'Well we're right outside here, why don't you just give us a quick tour?' It was literally one take, but we did one more which was our POV and then as soon as we were done, I think the first tram of the day pulled up so we had to get out of there. We got that just in the nick of time. My whole goal with the DVD, not just the doc but the whole package, is, as a fan, I own all the Psycho movies, I own all the Special Editions, I wanted to make something that was going to completely round out your collection. If you're a fan of the sequels and all these movies, I think this is going to really round it out. If anything, it's all worth it for that Anthony Perkins panel, which is the crown jewel of that entire package.
There are so many great stories from everyone that you interviewed about their first experience watching Psycho. I was curious how old you were when you first watched it and what kind of effect that might have had on you?
Robert V. Galluzzo: You know, it's funny. I try to think back to when I first saw the original Psycho and I can't pinpoint it. What I remember is that infamous Hitchcock trailer, where he's walking through the house and telling you all the things that happen there. That sticks out in my head as something I saw when I was really young. The one that had the most impact on me was Psycho III. Still to this day, and I hate choosing because I like to think of them all as four long acts to one story, if I had to, I'd have to say Psycho III is my favorite because I remember being really young and catching that on cable. It was on HBO and I was probably way younger than I should've been and it just scared the crap out of me. I didn't fully understand it at the time. Trying to think back, I feel that Psycho III was my introduction into the series, coupled with that Hitchcock trailer, then I'm sure at some point I went back and watched them all in order. Psycho IV didn't exist at that point, because I remember, when that came out, how excited I was to get it from the video store, because I didn't have Showtime when it aired.
Can you talk about what some of the biggest surprises or discoveries you had about this series while conducting these interviews and putting the movie together?
Robert V. Galluzzo: I know this sounds kind of cliche, but I cherish every single experience of every single interview, because I have an epic story behind each and every one. For me, personally, they all stand out. However, there were so many great tidbits that I learned during the process. I tried to squeeze them into the doc itself. Anything we don't answer, should be answered in the Extended Interviews. You'll get everything. I thought it was pretty interesting that Hilton A. Green had considered Jamie Lee Curtis for the role of Mary in Psycho II, which would've been an interesting little nod back to the original, considering Janet Leigh, her mother, was in the first. The other thing that also really surprised me, that I'm pretty sure is in either the extended interviews or deleted scenes, is that Stuart Gordon and Anthony Perkins had worked on a TV movie called Daughters of Darkness, right before Psycho IV. Anthony Perkins flat-out loved him, they had a great experience, and he asked him to direct Psycho IV, since he wasn't going to be able to do it. Psycho III wasn't successful and they wanted another director and Anthony Perkins' choice for it was Stuart Gordon. He turned it down because he had such reverence for the original movie, that he didn't know if he could possibly follow it up. That story is on the deleted scenes, I'm pretty sure. Obviously, Mick Garris ended up doing Psycho IV and he did a fantastic job. It's my favorite of his films.
Now that this is coming out, has the directing bug bit you then? Is there anything else that you would like to make, as a documentary or a fictional feature?
Robert V. Galluzzo: Oh, absolutely. I spent a good chunk of my 20's really into music. I was in a band, I did some composing for independent projects in New York. I was much like a lot of kids, who had the camera growing up and once they realized how much work it was, gave up. I tried, back then, to do movie stuff but it never worked out. This experience was really educational and really fun. I know I would approach another project a lot better. I wouldn't take three years and I would be a lot more prepared the first time out. So I'm dabbling with the idea of talking to some people about shooting some potential follow-up documentaries, similar to this one. If I may be candid, The Psycho Legacy took the life out of me. I need to be really careful about what I do next and be sure it's for the right reasons because I don't want a full set of grey hair, like I developed in the process of this one. I've been working with a lot of friends on some narrative stuff, so I'm looking forward to whatever's next, one way or another.
To wrap up, what would you like to say to any horror fan or Psycho fan about why they should pick up The Psycho Legacy on DVD?
Robert V. Galluzzo: Oh boy (Laughs). Well, look, I'm a fan too, and this is the disc that I always wanted to round out my collection. It's what I personally always wanted as a fan, so if you're a die-hard fan of the film, if you loved Psycho, Psycho II, Psycho III and Psycho IV, this is a must-have. You get to know about the making of the sequels and you can complete your collection. All I can say is I tried really hard and I worked really hard on it and I hope the fans appreciate it. I did the best I could with it and I really put my heart and soul into it. If anything, I don't think you can argue that my heart isn't completely in this thing when you watch it, when you go through the features and the doc itself. I hope that's contagious and not only die-hard fans get it, but I hope it turns on just general movie fans, because I know a lot of them don't even know that the sequels exist.
Excellent. That's about all I have for you. Thanks so much for your time and best of luck with any other projects you have.
Robert V. Galluzzo: Thanks so much, Brian. Take care.