Psycho III Collector's Edition Blu-ray Review
Directed by Anthony Perkins
Written by Charles Edward Pogue
1986, Region A, 93 minutes, Rated R
Blu-ray released on September 24th, 2013
Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates
Diana Scarwid as Maureen Coyle
Jeff Fahey as Duane Duke
Roberta Maxwell as Tracy Venable
Hugh Gillin as Sheriff Holt
Katt Shea as Patsy
Gary Bayer as Father Brian
In the weeks following the events of Psycho II, the community of Fairvale has moved on and the Bates Motel is back in business. Norman has resumed his old hobbies of taxidermy and murder; all is good in the world. Things change with the arrival of a weary traveler in search of spiritual inspiration and bearing more than a passing resemblance to one of Bates' earlier victims. Her name is Maureen Coyle and Norman is immediately taken with her beauty and the memories she invites. These romantic feelings are dampened however by the inquisitive Tracy Venable, a suspicious journalist looking for dirt on the recent activities following Norman's release from the hospital.
Occupancy is picking up at the motel, with half the rooms already booked for an upcoming football game. Needing an extra hand, Norman hires an aspiring musician named Duane Duke as his assistant manager. Duke is a scumbag and an opportunist, and he takes the reporter up on her offer to pay for information on any suspicious behavior from his new boss. Despite Mother's protests, Norman invites Maureen on a date and appears to be approaching something that resembles happiness. Mother has different plans and soon people are disappearing from the motel once again.
Psycho III marks the directorial debut of actor Anthony Perkins (Crimes of Passion) and he makes the transition nicely. He certainly knows the material and apparently paid attention to other directors over the years as he takes a strong lead in crafting an entertaining movie despite standing in Hitchcock's shadow. Perkins really succeeds at keeping audiences firmly planted in Norman's camp, no matter how disturbing his behavior. Particular attention has been paid to the pacing of the film and while this sequel more closely resembles the slasher subgenre, there are quite a few inspired moments that elevate it above lesser horror films. A series of thoughtful transitions from one sequence to the next keeps things interesting and the tone is further enhanced by a haunting score from Carter Burwell (Blood Simple).
Screenwriter Charles Edward Pogue (The Fly, 1986) does not have much interest in repeating the suspense-filled mystery of Psycho II. He instead offers an extension of the Bates character from the original film, back in his normal routine. This script never plays as a whodunit since the audience is quite familiar with the protagonist now and gets to watch him work in intimate proximity. There are several sequences that feature Norman spending time alone and this film offers the most direct look at his relationship with Mother. There is also the charming idea of watching Bates' behavior on a first date and the determination to overcome his crippling social awkwardness. Once again, there is a love story at the center of this sequel, but it really is the primary motivator for the main character and despite the whole psychotic murderer aspect of his personality, audiences genuinely want Norman to be happy.
Perkins gives another commanding performance in the role that would forever be associated with him. He maintains the vulnerability and remorse explored in the previous sequel, but is a bit more expressive in his quirkiness here, as Bates is so uncomfortable with Maureen's physical appearance. Diana Scarwid (Mommy Dearest) has great chemistry with both male leads and conveys an innocence that allows Norman to be the strong heroic figure that Maureen needs. Jeff Fahey (Body Parts) is perfectly cast as the charming misogynist Duke, a sleazy opportunist looking for a quick buck. His scenes with Perkins are his best and Duke’s third act character arc provides some nice tension. In any other film, Roberta Maxwell (The Changeling) would be the hero, but here she is a threat to Norman's freedom, so fans of the series shun her as the antagonist. This nosy journalist may benefit from a side of fame, but she appears sincere in her efforts to solve the case of Mrs. Spool's disappearance.
While not as solid as the last sequel, Perkins delivers a picture that is clever, witty and highly entertaining. The script offers creative variations on some of the returning material and provides a few nice subtle touches to Norman's internal struggle. There a few welcome additions that connect this film with the last, including returning supporting characters from the local diner and police force. The story only stumbles in the final act with an unfortunate truckload of exposition delivered first while a character is solving a jigsaw puzzle and later with another lengthy monologue of the type that has plagued the finales of all three films to this point in the franchise. I really like the idea that the majority of the sports fans gathered for a homecoming game will leave unharmed with nothing but fun memories of what an awesome time they had partying at the Bates Motel. Their referrals may inspire another sequel!
Video and Audio:
The picture is presented in the original aspect ratio, opened up slightly to 1.78:1, and looks pretty fantastic for the most part, although there are a few shots with excessive grain. Colors and flesh tones are natural and black levels are rich. There are some minor flashes of dirt and print wear, but this is easily the best the film has looked in years.
The default DTS-HD MA 5.1 track serves this disc well with a nice amount of action delivered to the rear channels. There are some nice directional sound effects throughout and the thunderstorm sequence is a nice highlight. The original mono mix, presented here in a DTS-HD MA 2.0 track that is equally clear and free from distortion. English subtitles are provided.
While the extras on Psycho II were a bit light, Scream Factory returns to form with a nice collection of goodies that fans will certainly appreciate.
Screenwriter Charles Edward Pogue is joined by Red Shirt Pictures' Michael Felsher for an audio commentary that is conversational in nature and has a nice flow to the content. Pogue discusses how he became attached to the project and his experiences working with Anthony Perkins. He also shares insight on the direction of some earlier ideas for the script, including a role for Psycho vet Janet Leigh.
Watch the Guitar (16 minutes) is a highly enjoyable interview with actor Jeff Fahey, who shares quite a few stories about his time on this film and working with cast and crew. One highlight includes his awe at watching Perkins' effortless transition from director to actor and back again. Stick around for a really fun bonus story at the end.
Patsy's Last Night (9 minutes) is another terrific interview, this time with actress Katt Shea, who really seems to enjoy her memories of working on this film. She has some fantastic Perkins stories and additional tales from the set, including her time spent inside the ice box.
Mother's Maker (11 minutes) features makeup legend Michael Westmore revealing secrets behind the various murder-set-pieces and his creation of Mother.
Body Double (5 minutes) offers a frank discussion with actress Brinke Stevens, who was brought in for some brief nudity when actress Diana Scarwid was unavailable.
Wrapping things up nicely are a few marketing items that include the original theatrical trailer and teaser campaign and a gallery of production stills.