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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

31 Days of Scream-O-Ween! - Psycho 3

By David Massey

For those of you that thought making a sequel to ‘Psycho’ was a disastrous, shark-jumping moment in cinema history, you ain’t seen nothing’ yet. On Valentine’s Day, 1986, first-time director, Anthony Perkins (Norman Bates himself), released ‘Psycho 3’ and, at the time, no one cared. It’s a shame because, unlike ‘Psycho 2’ – which spent a lot of time and energy reproducing and imitating Hitchcock - this is a totally new and much darker take on a scenario that we already know quite well. Scream Factory’s Collector’s Edition Blu-ray puts it all in perspective and garnishes the film with a hefty ensemble of bizarre features.


Psycho 3

 The Film:

 If you haven’t seen the previous ‘Psycho’ films, there are a number of sub-plots and asides in ‘Psycho 3’ that will mean absolutely nothing to you. It is a film that really hinges on all the previous elements and as careful as I was in my ‘Psycho 2’ review not to reveal all the twist and turns, it was all for not because ‘Psycho 3’ defiantly unravels every one of them.

 Much like the original, the film starts with a woman running away. This time it’s a very disturbed nun who has left her convent having lost her faith in God and her will to live. Janet Leigh look-alike, Maureen Coyle (Diana Scarwid - ‘Mommie Dearest’ / ‘Rumble Fish’) treks across the desert where she is picked up by a very sleazy Jeff Fahey (‘The Lawnmower Man’ / ‘Body Parts’). The two wonderers end up checking into the Bates Motel and, by now, you should have a hint at what’s in store for them.

 There are a few attempts at building on the ‘Psycho’ mythology but there aren’t any big surprises and there really isn’t one over-arching story (unless you take the previous films into account). Here’s a rundown of the sub-plots tied in: 1.) Maureen has lost all direction and Norman feels sorry for her so they go on a date before she gets killed. 2.) Duke, Fahey’s character, is working his way out to L.A. where he’s going to be a big rock star. He learns a bit more about Norman than he should and tries to use this to his advantage. 3.) There’s a reporter trying to discredit Norman’s sanity and disprove the truth about Norman’s mother (one of the twists from ‘Psycho 2’). 4.) The Bates Motel is full of guests for once and Norman has to sneak around killing them (for no reason).

 What’s so different about this sequel? For starters, I’m not really sure who the main character is. Unlike the previous sequel, Norman doesn’t seem to be conflicted any longer; he’s back to taxidermy, he’s got ‘Mother’ back, he’s peeking through holes in bathroom walls, and he’s quick to kill. Maureen barely has any screen time and, though she is introduced as a possible heroin, her character doesn’t really go anywhere (a la Marian Crane). Duke is too repellant to root for (but gets more screen time than almost anyone). So, oddly enough, the closest we’re given to a protagonist is Roberta Maxwell’s (‘Popeye’ / ‘Philadelphia’) reporter who is the least interesting character with the biggest payoff.

 All in all, this is the most sequeley sequel you will ever see and that should be enough to spark your curiosity.


The Disc:

 From the opening scenes, I was really shocked at how grainy this was. Fortunately, it seems to smooth out a bit as the film progresses but not the best image. There’s a fairly decent commentary with screenwriter Charles Edward Pogue (‘The Fly’ / ‘DragonHeart’) so you have some sense of the script and the intention of the many plot-points but he doesn’t seem to have been involved much in the actual production of the film which makes his insights a bit lacking.

 Where the features really excel is with the interviews. It’s apparent that the leads in the film (aside from Fahey) were unavailable (in one way or another) so we are treated to unexpected insights from secondary characters, body-doubles, and Makeup Effects Artist Michael Westmore (‘Raging Bull’ / ‘Rocky 2’).

The Features:
  • Audio Commentary with Screenwriter Charles Edward Pogue
  • Interviews with Actors Katt Shea, Brinke Stevens, Jeff Fahey
  • Interview with Special Makeup Effects Artist Michael Westmore
  • Theatrical Trailer


The Specs:
  • 1080p High-Definition Widescreen 1.85:1
  • DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and 2.0
  • English Only Audio & Subtitles
  • Original Release: 1986 (mislabeled as 1983 on the Blu-ray cover)
  • Runtime: 93 Minutes
  • Rating: R
Final Grades:

Story: C / Most of this we’ve seen before and what we haven’t is just trying to undo what we have.
Presentation: C / The image is really uneven and there’s a barrel-scraping feel to the features.
Scare Factor: B / This is much darker than either of the previous film.
Gore Factor: B / There’s plenty of blood and a few cringe-worth moments but gone is the slasher ethic of Psycho 2.
Repeat view-ability: C / For hardcore Norman fans only.

Add Psycho 3 to your collection, click HERE!

Check out yesterday’s Scream Factory review, Psycho 2!

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