Yet another follow up to Alfred Hitchcock’s seminal masterpiece, it’s easy to dismiss Psycho III as little more than a slice ’em dice ’em money grab. However, for those willing to give it a chance, the film actually exhibits an unexpected amount of ingenuity and style that works rather well. On top of that, there’s the unique specter of Norman Bates himself, Anthony Perkins, stepping into the director’s chair.
Psycho III opens with a prologue in which nun-to-be Maureen Coyle (Diana Scarwid) denounces God, inadvertently causing the death of another nun. Having run away from the convent, she finds herself wandering in the desert where she’s picked up by Duane (Jeff Fahey), a wanna-be musician. She when the Duane throws her out of the car in the middle of nowhere after rejecting his sexual advances.
Meanwhile, at the Bates Motel Norman (Perkins) is as crazy as ever. Having filled the dilapidated bird feeder with poisoned pellets, birds fill their tummies only to drop dead in the parking lot of the motel, where Norman picks them up and takes them back to the spooky Bates mansion to continue his taxidermy hobby. Through a series of plot machinations, both Duane and Maureen end up at the Bates Motel. Duane takes on the vacant job of Assistant Manager and Maureen moves in as a long term resident.
Norman takes a genuine interest in the fragile former nun (It doesn’t hurt that she reminds him of Marion Crane), and tries to help her, despite a growing attraction he knows will displease his domineering mother. Soon, bodies begin piling up, and a nosy reporter (Roberta Maxwell) starts sniffing around, determined to untangle the complicated web that surrounds Norman, in particular, the disappearance of a kind old lady who once worked with Norman at the local diner…and who just might be mummified in the rocking chair on the second floor of the Bates home.
In truth, Psycho III is much more a character study than a mystery, as there is little question as to who is causing all the chaos this time. Writer Charles Pogue states in the commentary included here that while he felt the first sequel was “fine,” he was less satisfied with by some of the retooling of the original Psycho mythology. Therefore, his intent here was to put Psycho III on a more Hitchcockian path, which to this viewer, he accomplished quite well.
Perkins directing style is surprisingly effective for a first timer, but it’s hard not to notice that he appears to be overacting in several scenes. Perhaps Norman had become a cliché by the third film, but Perkins just seems to overdo Norman’s ticks and movements every time he interacts with someone. Despite some obvious issues, Psycho III remains an entertaining film, and is well worth a look for fans of the franchise.
Presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, Psycho III arrives on Blu-ray with just a few minor flaws. Some minor crush in the darker scenes and occasional muddy shadow detail are apparent. However, outside scenes look great, and offer fine color reproduction. Skin tones look natural, and black levels are solid. DNR and edge enhancement aren’t in evidence.
Audio options are provided in English language DTS-HD 5.1 and DTS-HD 2.0. In this case, I can say that both tracks sound very good, though obviously the surround mix is able to spread things out. The surround effects are noticeably more involved than they were in the Psycho II mix, which was nice to hear. The score also sounds ‘bigger’ here, using the surrounds whenever possible. Distortion is a non-issue, and dialogue is clean and clear throughout.
English subtitles are included.
The following special features are available:
- Audio Commentary with Charles Edward Pogue. Red Shirt Productions’ Michael Felsher hosts this commentary with screenwriter Charles Edward Pogue. Pogue discusses how he got the job, as well as two different ideas he pitched to Universal (one featuring Janet Leigh as a therapist). Full of anecdotes, it’s well worth a listen.
- Watch the Guitar: An Interview with Jeff Fahey (HD, 16:49) Fahey discusses his memories of making the film, how important it was to his career, and watching the original Psycho.
- Patsy’s Last Night: An Interview with Katt Shea (HD, 8:40) Shea discusses the casting process and what it was like working with Anthony Perkins.
- Mother’s Maker: An Interview with Special Make-Up Effects Creator Michael Westmore (HD, 11:12) Westmore discusses returning to Universal to work on the effects.
- Body Double with Brinke Stevens (HD, 5:14) Stevens talks about her work as a body double on this film as well as other films like This is Spinal Tap.
- Trailers (HD, 1:54)
- Still Gallery (HD, 8:17)