Psycho 3 [VHS]
A runaway nun seeks refuge at the Bates Motel, where Norman is still in charge. Unfortunately for her, she has the same initials as Marion Crane, the woman he stabbed to death in the original film, and she triggers off some shower related memories in him. A fledgling love affair begins between the two, but his demanding 'mother' is not happy with her son's choice of partner and is determined to exert her parental influence.
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The region 1 USA DVD has a decent picture quality, 1hr-33mins, no special features. 1986.
The UK DVD from the 1-4 box set has a same quality picture and is the same uncut version, no features either.
Taking place weeks after the conclusion of it's predecessor, Psycho III starts with a terrific scene that sets the tone for the whole movie. As the immortal words "there is no god" are screamed across the soundtrack we see young, disillusioned nun Maureen(Diana Scarwid) attempts to take her own life by hurling herself from the bell tower of her convent. Despite desperate attempts by her mother superior and fellow sisters the hysterical Maureen only edges perilously closer to the gaping window. Tragedy ensues as a well meaning sister reaches out only to slip and fall to her death herself. The troubled Maureen is ostracised from the convent with only the clothes on her back and a small suitcase and makes her way across the arid desert where she finds a lonely highway. She is soon picked up by grungy, drifter musician Duke (Jef Fahey) who is on route to California to make his fame and fortune("Hey!!! Mind the guitar"). After an impenetrable nighttime rain storm Duke decides it would be safer to park up for the night and rest until the weather clears. Not knowing anything about Maureen's background the sleezy Duke makes his move on her which she quite rightly rebuffs prompting the slime ball to throw her from his car into the cold, dark rainy night miles from anywhere. The next day Duke pulls into a deserted motel just off the main highway, a motel with a familar name and an even more familiar manager. Bates Motel and of course Norman. Always out for a quick buck Duke takes a job offered by Norman to man the desk during the day ("I prefer nights") despite Duke saying he isn't going to stick around for long ("no one ever does"). Leaving Duke in charge of the motel Norman heads off to the local diner, a place where he used to work and has now a fair bit of respect with the staff and patrons despite his chequered history. Whilst being quizzed by a pushy reporter Norman notices a young blonde haired women who has a striking resemblance to Marion Crane (Janet Leigh's character from the original movie) re-lighting a fire in Norman and undoing all the good the rehabilitation may have done. As to be expected with nothing for miles around Maureen arrives at Bates Motel on the recommendation of the diner staff further fueling Norman to revert back to his old ways.
It took well over 20 years for Alfred Hitchcock's legendary Psycho to get a sequel and then in the succession of three years it got two. Fans of Hitchcock's slow brooding b&w original would ask why but for Universal it was obvious. To cash in on the tidal wave of low budget graphic slasher movies that were swamping cinemas and video stores and bring the world of psycho mummy's boy Norman Bates to the masses once more. Psycho II made a packet, obviously cashing in on the notoriety of the original with cinemagoers eager to see what happened next despite the two decade time lapse. Psycho III came a mere three years later feeling more like a straight slasher flick than the two previous Psycho movies, amping up the gratuitous violence and T&A to compete with the horror movies of the time. Listening to the included commentary track on this Blu ray screenwriter Charles Edward Pogue actually wanted to go back to basics with this third sequel and revert to Hitchcock's prefered less is more approach to onscreen carnage. But the powers that be at Universal Studios demanded that Anthony Perkins go in the opposite direction and up the anti, even going so far as to introduce characters not releated to the main story just for the sake of extra bloodshed and screaming nubile girls. Famously detesting violence for the sake of violence, Mr. Hitchcock who at this point had only been dead 6 years must have been turning in his grave. That said there is alot to enjoy with Psycho III and taken on its own terms is a fairly successful picture especially if you compare it to other films of its ilk and comes off much better than it has any right to. For a first time effort Anthony Perkins' direction is solid and dependable with a strong atmospheric approach helped no end by some striking cinematography and noticable references to Hitchcock's original as well as nods to other films in the infamous directors cannon. The script is good with a great emphasis on subtle black comedy and the decision for Norman and Maureen to strike up a relationship does initially seem a little odd and awkward but proves to be the major backbone to the story. Performance wise the cast are all game with Diana Skarwid in particular providing an angelic presence, full of heart and emotion as she wrestles with her religious beliefs whilst at the same time trying to supress her lust for the flesh. Perkins on the other hand seems predisposed to over acting almost taking his Bates character into self parody. This was the third time movie audiences had seen Norman Bates but Perkins' over emphasised ticks and quirky traits often felt overdone and far too theatrical for the material at hand. I'm not saying he is particularly bad as Perkins was a superb and wholly professional actor but maybe a little more subtlety would have made the character more sinister and less of a cliché. A special note must also go to the wonderful synth score punctuated by atmospheric ethereal chanting that suits the onscreen action perfectly with a riff I found myself humming days after. Psycho III is something of a mixture of different things. At some points its a classy homage to what is one of the most iconic and recognisable movies in motion picture history as well as wonderful character study of two messed up individuals. At the same time its a fun, blackly comic, occasionally sleezy and more often vicious mid 80s horror flick. In the end Psycho III isn't a bad sequel, just different and I do believe the often maligned ending would have been far more effective if part IV had never happened.
Shout! Factory present this mid 80s Universal horror movie in an AVC MPEG 4 encoded 1080p transfer framed at the correct aspect ratio of 1.85:1. For the most part this is a decent if slightly underwhelming transfer. The bright daytime scenes show off some great detail and textures with crisp rendering of the dusty desert locations and sun scorched wooden buildings. Close ups are handled nicely from faces, clothing and beat up motor cars through to intricacies of birds feathers on the Norman's latest taxidermy conquests. Some softness does creep in and on occasion the image has a rather flat 80s feel lacking depth. Black levels are ok but crush does disrupt some of the shadowy night scenes although the interiors of the motel rooms and Normans house on the hill complete with lots of nice quirky details are strong. The colours which also include some 80s style neon lighting are bold from the deep blue skies through to the robust reds of the blood and skin tones are accurate. The image has a healthy amount of natural film grain throughout providing a nicely filmic presentation and with no noticable print damage, uses of DNR and a decent bitrate this remains stable and extremely watchable if hardly awe inspiring.
Shout! provide a pair of lossless 24bit DTS HD MA mixes for the Psycho III Blu ray premiere in the form of a 2.0 rendering of the original Dolby Stereo track and a re-channeled 5.1 bump. Of the two I chose to view the whole movie utilising the 5.1 which I found to be a very accomplished option. Dialogue is crisp, clear and natural throughout with good prioritization in the centre channel and foley effects from the grumble of Dukes old V8 motor through to the clanging bells of the opening scene possess pleasing weight and presence. The music score sounds rich and full with excellent dynamics adding impact to a number of the frenzid attack scenes and stereo imaging across the front of the soundstage is smooth and effective with plenty of left to right action and wide spacial effects. The rear channels are used primarily to support the score and to add environmental atmospherics such as pouring rain and claps of thunder and the LFE channel is utilised mainly to emphasise depth and low end punch for the electronic score. The track is clean and clear of any age related issues and the 5.1 bump never sounds forced, fake or gimmicky. The two channel mix obviously comes across as a little less lively but still has decent immersion (I compared this using the DTS NEO 6 decoder on my receiver). This is probably more accurate to the original sound design with again clear well centred dialogue and realistic left and right channel separations. Whichever option you choose this is the best I have ever heard Psycho III sound.
As is almost always the case with their releases Shout! serve up a decent set of special features for a movie I doubt will be a huge money spinner for the company. First up is an entertaining and informative audio commentary by screenwriter Charles Edward Pogue who details the production of the movie as well as working with Anthony Perkins. He also goes into detail on how he wanted the movie to be more akin the Hitchcock's original with less violence than what turned up in the finished product.
"Watch the Guitar" is a 16 minute interview with star Jeff Fahey presented in 1080p. Jeff goes into detail on how completely overwhelmed he was to be working and starring in a Psycho movie after having watched the original as a child. He also adds some production insights and how he pulled a trick on an unsuspecting Anthony Perkins.
Next up is a short 1080p 8 minute Interview with star Katt Shea who played the girl murdered on the toilet. She goes into a little detail on the casting process, working with Perkins and what it was like to play a dead body.
Mother's Maker is a 10 minute interview with make up artist Michael Westmore presented in 1080p detailing how the mummified Mrs.Bates was created.
Body Double with Binkie Stevens is a short 5 minute interview with Diane Skarwid's body double for the undressing scene. Also presented in 1080p.
To conclude the supplementary features is the theatrical trailer presented in 1080p and a stills gallery.
Both of the 80s Psycho sequels had a monumental task to live up to the legendary and highly regarded original movie but despite a change in style both work well in their own right. Of the two I actually prefer Psycho III. I love the sleezy atmosphere, the touches of black comedy and the soundtrack. Shout! Factory's Blu ray presents this third instalment in a decent enough HD transfer with surprisingly robust lossless soundtracks and for a film such as this the extras are well worth a look. Another good release of an 80s cult classic from Shout!
Fantastic Carter Burwell score that is so overdue for CD release. Come on Universal. I've had the vinyl for 28 years. Too long.
It's 1.85:1 widescreen and the pretty
good picture fills all of a modern TV screen.
So Norman's creeping about again, twitching
his face & giving us plenty of one sided smiles
as only Perkins can. A big thank you to the
reviewer(s) who've stated this print is uncut &
so is the one in the UK Psycho box set (i think).
1986, wig/check. old biddys frock/check. dirty great knife/double check
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