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Psycho III (1986) - Blu-ray Review

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Psycho III - Blu-ray Review

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3 stars

Anthony Perkins’ directorial debut arrives with his third appearance as Norman Bates in Psycho III.  While not as sharp as the first sequel to Hitchcock’s classic film, the third in the series proves that sometimes a leaner and meaner attitude is what’s best for a sequel.  The narrative benefits greatly from a streamline approach to horror.  This time, though, Perkins steps behind the camera and he – without “camping” it up – proves to be a somewhat effective director for this thriller.

Psycho III begins about a month or two after the events at the conclusion of the first sequel in which Norman, driven insane again by a vengeful Vera Miles, just bashed in the skull of a woman claiming to be his real mother with the back of a shovel.  He has now stuffed her – along with his birds – and “hears” her inside his head.

Obviously, his attempt at a normal life has failed and, once again, Norman is isolated in his mother’s house and a rundown motel to run.  When a guitar-carrying drifter named Duane Duke (Jeff Fahey) arrives, Norman reaches out and offers him a job at $5 an hour.  Soon, a somewhat disturbed convent dropout named Maureen (Diana Scarwid) arrives and Norman, against his mother’s wishes, extends his hand to her, offering her room and board.

Co-starring Roberta Maxwell as a nosy investigative journalist on the hunt for a story and a returning Hugh Gillin as Sheriff Hunt, Psycho III ratchets up the tension with some uneasy new characters and a further exploration of Norman’s type of necrophilia.  While the largely uncomplicated screenplay by Charles Edward Pogue doesn’t have the high expectations built up around it like the first sequel did, he does honor Hitchcock with a concentration of suspense and a lot more humor delivered with some serious straight faces.

Perkins manages to infuse a bit of the original film into his debut.  There are some nice moments that actually add to the original storyline involving Janet Leigh.  But it is the screenplay that is the sharpest here, offering an ending that brings us back to Hitchcock.

His performance as Bates is, ironically enough, a bit half-baked.  He’s still definitely nailing the character down, but there’s something short in the performance this time around.  He probably needed someone to check his performances while he concentrated on Universal’s constant interference with requests to add more sex and nudity and blood to the picture.  The result is that Psycho III is only just a little more than a common slasher picture.

Psycho III has its moments – the ice freezer being a favorite – and it does nicely come full circle with the Norman Bates narrative, connecting all three films into a single storyline, but too much of it feels like it functions on auto-pilot.  While it isn’t completely as satisfying as what came before, there are some great lines delivered by Perkins and Fahey.

The shower might be lukewarm, but Psycho III is definitely not a waste of your time.

{2jtab: Film Details}

Psycho III - Blu-ray ReviewMPAA Rating: R.
Runtime:
93 mins
Director
: Anthony Perkins
Writer: Charles Edward Pogue
Cast: Anthony Perkins, Diana Scarwid, Jeff Fahey
Genre
: Horror | Thriller
Tagline:
Norman Bates is back to normal. But Mother's off her rocker again!
Memorable Movie Quote: "Don't you mean mummy? You did a nice job on her Norman. Fresh as the day she croaked."
Distributor:
Universal Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
July 2, 1986
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
September 24, 2013

Synopsis: One month after the events of PSYCHO II, Norman is still running the Bates Motel along with "Mother". Things are going fine until Norman falls in love with a fallen nun, takes in a greedy drifter, a nosy reporter sticks her nose where it doesn't belong and a series of murders begins once again.

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Psycho III - Blu-ray Review

Component Grades
Movie

Blu-ray Disc
3 stars

3 stars



Blu-ray Experience
3 stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - September 24, 2013
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)
Region encoding: A

Shout! Factory’s release isn’t as engaged as Psycho II, but the 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 transfer presents a pretty good image with a healthy layer of grain.  Black levels are thick and shadows are heavy.  Contrast is high and the sharpness seems to be accurate.  The only blemishes on the source material are a few specks and errant marks that crop up from time to time.  Colors favor the desert side of the spectrum with lots of earthy textures and a blazing saturate over it all.  The new DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track delivers strong sound throughout so Carter Burwell’s score can be appreciated in a new soundscape.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • Attempting to clarify his favorable position on Psycho III, writer Charles Edward Pogue sits down with DVD producer Michael Felsher for a commentary that makes me appreciate the film more than I already did.  They talk of the disappointment with the end of the second movie and the injection of religion into the third one among other things.

Special Features:

Psycho III arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Shout! Factory.  It is handsomely packaged in a standard case inside a sleeve, with a collection of scene stills adorning the inside front and back covers.  The bonus features include new and interesting interviews with Jeff Fahey, Katt Shea, Make-Up Effects Creator Michael Westmore, and Brinke Stevens.  Also included are original trailers and a stills gallery.

  • Watch the Guitar: An Interview with Jeff Fahey (17 min)
  • Patsy's Last Night: An Interview with Katt Shea (9 min)
  • Mother's Maker: An Interview with Effects Creator Michael Westmore (11 min)
  • Body Double with Brinke Stevens (5 min)
  • Theatrical Trailers (2 min)
  • Still Gallery

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