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Saturday, October 19, 2013

'Psycho III:' Girl from 'Mommie Dearest' Meets Boy with Mother of all Mommy Issues

Psycho III [Collector's Edition]

As last week's review of Shout Factory's Blu-ray release of  1983's "Psycho II" promises, this post discusses Shout Factory's Blu-ray release of 1986's "Psycho III." Both terrific sequels to 1960's classic "Psycho" benefit from Anthony Perkins returning as motel owner/mass murderer Norman Bates. Perkins' involvement in "Psycho III" expands to directing that film.

"Psycho III" nicely picks up where "Psycho II" leaves off; it is set one month after a significant event in Norman's life in the final minutes of that earlier film. He is still running the motel and arguably feeling more like myself then he did in "Psycho II."

Nearly simultaneous events that occur early in "Psycho III" get the party started. The first incident is that gritty sociopath drifter Duane Duke, played by "Lost's" Jeff Fahey, shows up at the Bates Motel looking for work.

A scene in which Duane confesses that he is not looking to stay for very long and Norman responds in a very creepy manner that "no one ever does" is almost as good as a later scene in which Norman repeats his famous line from the first film "we all go a little mad sometimes."

The hiring of Duane occurs the evening before Norman offers destitute naive former nun-in-training Maureen lodging FOC, which Norman enjoys pointing out stands for "free of charge."

Maureen's largely sheltered existence results in her being a novice in just about every sense and prompts her desire to abandon her old habits (of course, pun intended.) At the same time, her background influences her seeing Norman as a savior under a few meanings of that word.

Maureen's similarity to "Psycho's" Marion Crane motivates Norman's charitable act; the physical resemblance and the two characters having the same initials clearly take a toll on him. Duane innocently putting Maureen in the same room in which Marion really riles up Norman.

Diana Scarwid of "Mommie Dearest" plays Maureen; the experience of playing Christina Crawford serves her well in playing against Perkins' character, whose mother makes Joan Crawford seem like Carol Brady.

A more subtle element in "Psycho III" relates to the Bates Motel hosting a group of adults celebrating a high school homecoming at a time that Norman is experiencing a form of homecoming himself.

Topping things off, a pushy visiting reporter who is investigating Norman in "Psycho III" adds to his anxiety in the same manner as Marion's sister in "Psycho II." Seeing Vera Miles reprise that role in that film is one of many special elements of that movie.

Saying more about the plot of "Psycho III" would spoil the enjoyment the film, which makes a great Halloween weekend double feature with "Psycho II."

Regarding the overall style of "Psycho III," it has a wonderfully '80s vibe between the music and the wannabe style of the Madonna-loving background female characters.

Additionally, Perkins' direction maintains the suspenseful tone of "Psycho" and gets good performances out of his lead actors while adding timely elements associated with '80s slasher films. These include a close-up that cinephiles had waited 26 years to see, a couple of particularly gruesome killings, and much more nudity than the Hitchcock classic.

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of the trailer for "Psycho III" conveys the aforementioned style without including significant spoilers.
Full candor requires confessing that my mother is very upset that I did not watch the special features on the Blu-ray release. These include the theatrical trailer and interviews with a makeup artist and two supporting actors.

The final analysis regarding this "Psycho" is that it is a good chapter in the lore of that film series and is well worth watching.

Anyone with any questions or comments regarding the "Psycho" film series is welcome to email me. You can also find me on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.