Horror Movie Review: Psycho III (1986)

The third film in the Psycho series (of four) was released in 1986 saw star, Anthony Perkins not just reprise his role but take over the directing chair too. You can read our review of the seminal original film here and its sequel here.

Picking up shortly after the events of Psycho II, Norman Bates is living and operating his motel while keeping the corpse of his ‘real’ mother upstairs in the bedroom.

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Elsewhere a young nun called Maureen (Diana Scarwid) has left her convent having lost her faith. She hitches a ride with the sleazy Duane (Jeff Fahey) who fails to have his way so kicks her out of his car. Duane ends up at the Bates Motel where Norman gives him the job of manager and Maureen ends up at the diner where she also runs into Norman.

She walks in just as he is talking to journalist, Tracey (Roberta Maxwell) and her resemblance to Marion Crane from the first film startles him.

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He gets talking to her and offers her a free room at his motel. However later, when ‘mother’ arrives to kill her, Maureen has already cut her wrists. She sees mother as the Virgin Mary holding a cross and Norman ends up saving her life.

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Unsurprisingly Norman ends up falling in love with her and the pair start a relationship of sorts. A happy ending? Not if mother has anything to say about it.

Psycho III is a different movie in the series. Dropping most of the tension-based scenes in favour of turning up the graphic violence, it has a real 80’s horror feel. A good thing for some. Not so much if you’re hoping for more of the same Psycho tension.

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Realistically it would have been hard to replicate the tension felt in the original though as there are no secrets for the viewer or Norman to uncover. We know the score with mother, we know the score with the man himself. The introduction of Maureen is probably the biggest ‘game-changer’ as her motivations are unclear and her own damaged mental state makes for a interesting plot point.

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Diana Scarwid does a good job in the role really playing up to her innocence but the standouts are Anthony Perkins and Jeff Fahey. The former owns the role and his awkward friendliness offset with his psychotic tendencies is great to watch. The latter is the perfect sleazeball, someone only out for himself and willing to sell his own mother for a quick buck!

By time the credits roll, you’ll be satisfied by the overall story told here and the cathartic finale for both the viewer and Norman. It kind of feels like things come full circle and even though the film fades to black on a sinister Norman smile, it doesn’t feel like sequel bait.

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Is it a great movie? Not really. It’s a bit to familiar and doesn’t elect the same feelings felt from watching the first two. A few scenes are borderline silly (the cop eating bloody ice is a dumb moment) and there are very few surprises or shocks. That being said, it’s admirable that there was an attempt to drag Psycho forward and the quality of the acting can’t be faulted.

Worth a watch if you’ve been following the series along so far.

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  • Carl Fisher

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Psycho III
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