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Psycho III – Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray Review)

Psycho-IIIBuilding off the end of Psycho II, Norman Bates returns to life as “normal” for another entry into the franchise.  This time he would direct the terror in a film that is very enjoyable, but a noticeable step down in terms of quality.  As long as Anthony Perkins was still around and still interested, why not keep going and see what lands this time.  Nothing is too outrageous, but things play a bit bigger and feel a little more familiar to the slasher boom of the 1980s.   There’s also a really memorable turn by Jeff Fahey, in what was only his second major film role at the time.  Scream Factory brings the Motel’s 3rd adventure to Blu-ray in a nice collector’s edition that offers a bit more in the exclusive features department than their Psycho II release.  Feel free to return once again to book yourself into Room 1 and stay for a nice cold shower.

Psycho III E

Film 

After a horrible accident during a suicidal meltdown, Maureen has left the convent.  Her belief in God is gone and she appears to be just trying to find a final resting place for herself.  She winds up in Fairvale and landing a room at the Bates Motel.  Of course, while there, she meets Norman Bates.  Maureen is the striking image of Marion Crane and he is instantly taken with her.  Hoping to make right on the biggest failure of his past, Norman and Maureen begin a romantic involvement at the behest of his mother.  Meanwhile, a report is trying to get to the bottom of the disappearance of Emma Spool, leading her straight to Norman Bates.

Star Anthony Perkins makes his directorial debut with Psycho III.  The film retains much of the look and feel of the second one, yet is noticeably a little goofier.  The film features a few less serious and campier performances and situations.  Also, Perkins himself is giving a bit too much.  Make no mistake, the guy is still Norman Bates, but in this film he’s choosing to play it much bigger and more over the top.  Perhaps this is because he is directing himself in this effort.  Maybe its what he wanted as much of the cast is playing it big.

The film also falls a little more into the trappings of the “dead teenager movies” made popular during this era.  There’s this big group of adults back for a high school homecoming that are just living it up and partying at the hotel.  Only one of them bites it, but she wanders off and finds herself in familiar slasher movie territory.  The film is light on kills, but feels a bit more in line with these types of movies.  The odd thing about this time, though, the gore is a lot less impressive than the previous film.  Its not awful or anything, I just thought some of the prosthetic work in Psycho II was really cool looking.  Being a big fan of the slasher horror subgenre, I didn’t mind it, but I can clearly see a different level of competence between II and III.

The themes, story and journey of all the characters in Pscyho III is great and a good addition following Psycho II.  It’s only in the execution that it just doesn’t work as well.  The film pulls its own twists and turns and features some fun characters, but it’s a hair off when it comes to the way it’s displayed and how its acted.  While I do enjoy seeing scenes of Norman and mother actually interacting on screen, that’s kinda where you realize that they’ve jumped off a tad and there’s no turning back.  While its something you always kind of wanted to see, after all is said and done, its better left behind closed doors.  There is the possibility with a more experienced director that this film could have been brought to the level of Psycho II.  Don’t get me wrong though, I like Psycho III and think it’s a good piece of entertainment, it just could have been better in between the lines.

Psycho III doesn’t improve or hold steady on what was set in Psycho II.  It’s a fine adventure, but definitely shows signs of declining quality.  Part 3’s are usually where these things start to become noticeable.  The following film would be a massive jump off from here, effectively putting the franchise out to pasture for the time being.  Norman Bates overall was not hurt by sequels.  And his series proves a lot less exploitative and “cash grabby” than a lot of the horror franchises and slasher movies of the 1980s.  It takes 3rd place in the Psycho race, but is still a good addition to the series and an above average slasher film to boot.

Psycho III B

Video 

Psycho III’s 1080p MPEG-4 AVC picture is right up to snuff with Psycho II’s.  There’s a bit more use of color in this film, but the images are pretty much complimentary of each other.  The 1:78.1 frame is intentionally somewhat flat with detail very high in facial definition and fabric textures.  This one also fares better in the regard that it features a lot less issues with the source print than Psycho II.  The notable difference between Psycho III and its predecessor is that Psycho III has a lot of really dark scenes.  While they look very good on this Blu-ray and create for a wonderfully spooky atmosphere, I can’t help but think what a bitch this must have been on the eyes during the days of VHS.  Scream Factory has done a great job with mastering this one and keeping its picture consistent and visible during what could have been some very challenging moments in the film.

Psycho III D

Audio 

The DTS-HD MA 5.1 track is a nice and suitable cut.  The score is prominent in this mix but never overbearing or covering up dialogue and effects.  The mix is very full and utilizes all speakers.  It’s light on its utilization of the subwoofer, but that’s about the only real complaint.  Dialogue is nice and clear.  This film has a period where there is a lot of action going on around the motel and this track gives a nice sense of its surroundings.  You can get a sense of where the party is at.  All the stabbings and thuds are good and crisp.  Also provided is the DTS-HD MA 2.0 track of the original mix which proves to be a nice alternative and is the way the audio was originally intended theatrically.

Psycho III C

Extras 

Unlike Psycho II, Psycho III comes with some fresh new interviews for this release.  All content is presented in 1080p high definition with DTS-HD MA 2.0 sound.  I’ll take the time here to talk about how the cover art of this one brings some nostalgia of the horror sections at ever video store back growing up.  The art is such a distinct image, campy image of Norman holding out the keys.  Every rental store had it, and it always stuck out.

  • Audio Commentary With Charles Edward Pogue – Michael Felcher moderates as the screenwriter discusses the making of Psycho III.  He talks of his desire to retcon a few things from Psycho II as well as how Anthony Perkins landed the part of director.  He seems kindly bitter about some things, but is able to give a solid perspective on the film.
  • Watch The Guitar: An Interview With Jeff Fahey (16:49) – Jeff Fahey discusses coming off of Silverado and auditioning for Psycho III shortly after.  He relishes in amusement at how Anthony Perkins was able to just turn on Norman Bates with the blink of an eye.  He also discusses his discomfort and having to improvise some things in his sex scene.
  • Patsy’s Last Night: An Interview With Katt Shea (8:40): Director Katt Shea discusses her part in the film and her challenges playing a corpse and being dragged around and put in an ice chest with real ice.
  • Mother’s Maker: An Interview With Special Make-Up Effects Creator Michael Westmore (11:12) – Westmore tells of how Psycho III was a “getting the gang back together” type event with the surviving crew of the original.  He also touches on Anthony Perkins influence on him in his career.
  • Body Double With Brinke Stephens (5:14) – The actress sheds light on her brief moment standing in for Diana Scarwid to bare all during reshoots.
  • Trailers (1:54) – Two theatrical trailers.
  • Still Gallery – 97 stills of behind the scenes, publicity stills, posters, lobby cards and inserts.

Psycho III A

Summary 

Scream Factory has done a bang up job with their Psycho releases that highlight their “Fall of Fear” series going on.  The films both look great and have picture qualities in sync with each other.  Psycho III’s release features 4 interviews made exclusively for this Blu-ray, making this Blu-ray more than worth your while.  If you’re a fan of this series, you’re going to be really happy with this release.  If you’re just checking this out for the first time, you’re in luck as you’re not going to find a better presentation and introduction to this movie than this release.  Scream Factory has given the Bates Motel a beautiful makeover and kept it up and running with their Psycho releases.  Fans will be incredibly excited to have these in their collection.


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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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