Directed by: Anthony Perkins
Cast: Anthony Perkins, Jeff Fahey, Diana Scarwid
It’s been years since I trekked through the Psycho franchise in its entirety, but I was able to pick up copies of II, III and IV for a total of $3, so it seemed appropriate to hang with Norman Bates a few more times.
Heading into the third installment I held only faint memories of what wait in store… or motel. I recall the inclusion of the awesome Jeff Fahey, and I remember a nun who finds herself in a pretty sketchy position. And, those recollections are certainly spot-on.
The story focuses on said nun, who abandons her religion after inadvertently getting one of her sisters killed. She beats feet, and finds herself wandering dusty roads with the oncoming rain painting a further grueling journey. But a car stops, and this sister, for a moment believes she’s gotten lucky. Behind the wheel of said car, however, is Fahey’s character, Duane, and Duane is a horndog, which of course doesn’t fly with a woman who just a few hours ago was an active woman of the cloth.
One thing leads to another and sister Maureen finds herself back out in the rain and Duane manages to make it to the good old Bates Motel before his car breaks down. Naturally, Maureen also makes her way to the Bates Motel, and suddenly Norman has more than a single guest to deal with. And Norman has never been too good at mingling with company or customer.
What ensues is a deep struggle for Norman, who’s challenged by Duane’s brash and aggressive demeanor and Maureen’s beauty and resemblance to Marion Crane, whom he killed 22 years prior while dressed as his deceased mother, Norma Bates.
Bates still has momma in his life, and momma doesn’t care much for Duane, but she flat out despises Maureen, because, well, you know – dead mother’s often get jealous when their still-living sons become attracted to other women.
I know, it’s all as nutty as can be expected from this franchise, but you know what else? It really works. The violence has seen an enormous upgrade, however. While Psycho II delivered some edgier acts of violence, and a lot more blood, Psycho III puts the pedal to the metal and goes all out. The violence this time, and copious blood spray, is all gratuitous in nature. It’s very, very over the top, and while that is a clear sign of the times, I wouldn’t have minded if the murder sequences had been tamed just a tad. Norman Bates is scary as it is, he doesn’t need to be drenched in someone else’s blood to leave the viewer unsettled.
And although I’m not a huge fan of how bloody this film is, it does still generally lean on the psychological side of horror as opposed to the more in-your-face shocks. And Anthony Perkins is still fabulous. He’s still awkward as all hell to be around, he still sends a chill down the spine. And Perkins and his awkward but controlled offering is given nice contrast while dealing with the loudmouth, overly confident Duane.
The surprises of Psycho are long gone by the third installment, but the third installment is still ultimately a very entertaining film that doesn’t tarnish Hitchcock’s picture in the least. Perkins does a fine job in directing the flick, and the cast work well together. Psycho III is one lengthy ride of unease, but if you’re a fan of the genre, and you place great value on Hitchcock’s original picture, you’ll likely find some valuable entertainment in this third installment.