Director: Anthony Perkins
Year of release: 1986
Country of origin: USA
Running time: 93 minutes
DVD/Blu ray: Both
Also known as: Psicosis 3
Tagline: "The most shocking of them all", "Norman Bates is back to normal, But Mother's off her rocker again" and "Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the shower".
Casting the spotlight on the slasher genre
Story: Set shortly after the events of the last film Norman’s life is complicated by two new additions to the Bates Motel. Firstly he takes in a troubled young woman in religious conflict with herself by name of Maureen. Having recently turned her back on life at a nuns convent Maureen bears an uncanny resemblance to Norman’s key early victim Marion Crane. Getting close to Norman after he saves her life she soon unwillingly begins to play havoc with Norman’s fragile mental state.
Adding to Norman’s troubles is seedy drifter Duke who after being taken on at the motel as hired help soon begins to get too close to Norman’s secrets.
His hands already full with both Maureen and Duke Norman finds he has even more to contend with in the shape of a nosy reporter who starts snooping around investigating the disappearance of Mrs Spool Under pressure from all corners it isn’t long before Norman cracks under the pressure.
Good points: *Much like with number two this feels heavily connected to the original and is very much a continuation of the story and of the Norman character. Directed by Anthony Perkins himself, perhaps the man that understands Norman Bates the most it is in some ways even more faithful to the original than the last entry. Norman’s interest in taxidermy is back as is his penchant for chewing on bags of candy. There are other little touches that make a return as well among them the minor characters of the Sheriff and diner owner, the FOC acronym (free of charge), the peephole behind the picture and the “We all go a little mad sometimes” line.
*Norman Bates is as fascinating a character as ever and seeing him go through his usual mental rollercoaster ride on screen is still the main reason to watch. Once again Antony Perkins is perfect in the role and the small touches mentioned above such as the emphasis once again on taxidermy brings the character back to his early vintage.
*Mild spoiler: For the first time we actually get to see Norman having conversations with Mother instead of just hearing them while the camera focuses on something else. I found these scenes really interesting to watch and well put together with Norman covering his mouth or turning away when speaking in mother’s voice. The effects used for Mother are pretty decent as well in particular towards the end.
Bad Points: *The Maureen Coyle character I found to be a bit shallow with little effort made to properly explain her background and what specifically led to her crisis of faith. In comparison to Mary from the second film who fulfilled a similar sort of role in the form of a troubled young woman staying with Norman I thought she was a bit of a let-down and quite forgettable.
Spoiler: Speaking of Maureen her death scene could have been better as I thought it looked weird how she somehow managed to land with the back of her head directly on the arrow of the statue. Seemed unrealistic that it would unfold that way and too fortuitous.
Another spoiler (mild this time): Finally on the subject of Maureen there is a noticeable discrepancy where after she returns to the motel after a suicide attempt her wrists are completely normal with no bandages or visible scars from the knife cuts.
*There are a couple of small issues involving the reporter character which I feel are worth a mention. Firstly I felt it was a bit unrealistic that Duke would hit on her seeing that she was a fair bit older than he was himself plus not particularly attractive. Then something similar happened again with the man at Mrs Spool’s apartment complex also flirting with her. He was an older gentleman so admittedly perhaps it was more believable in this instance.
I also didn’t know why the reporter had to transfer the number for the motel that Duke left her from it’s original matchbook to the beer napkin. When she later pulled the napkin out in Spool’s apartment I was thrown and didn’t immediately realise what it was. . Things would have had a better flow if they’d just continued to use the matchbook as we got a good look at that earlier so it would have been instantly recognisable.
*There are one or two weird parts thrown in with the Duke character where he has pornographic pictures stuck on the walls and over lampshades and such which I found a bit odd. Just seemed a weird thing to do in his room if he planned on taking women back there as it would surely alarm them and put them off. It felt a bit heavy handed and over the top.
Verdict: There is a definite drop off in quality for me with this one when comparing it to the two previous films but considering how good they were they were always going to be an extremely difficult act to follow.
Part three feels like it is lacking in the support characters who didn’t hold my interest as much as those who’ve gone before. More flesh on the bones and attention to detail in this area could have helped. That said this is solid enough in its own right with a lot of effort being put in to make this feel as if it truly belongs in the series. As such it definitely feels like a true continuation of the Norman story.
In addition to plenty of similarities with the previous films Psycho 3 also takes a step away in that it doesn’t include much in the way of mystery elements. Instead it seems somewhat influenced by many of the other films of the eighties slasher craze in that there is a bit more sex and violence on display this time as well as a younger cast. The shift doesn’t necessarily add up to a better film but it helps it stand on its own two feet a little and step out of the shadow of its very impressive predecessors.
Bodycount (contains major spoilers):
1) Nun: Falls to her death in the bell tower after trying to help Maureen.
2) Duke’s one night stand girl: Stabbed to death in phone box. Body dumped in the swamp area.
3) Female football fan: Throat cut while sitting on the toilet.
4) Duke: Bludgeoned with guitar and is finished off later in the car where he is choked and drowned.
5) Maureen: Falls backward down the stairs and hits the back of her head on the protruding arrow head from a statue.