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Dustin Putman


Dustin's Blu-ray Review
Psycho III  (1986)
Reviewed by Dustin Putman

The Film
2.5 Stars
(Release date: September 24, 2013) - Three years after "Psycho II" became a box-office hit in the summer of 1983, Universal Pictures promoted lead actor Anthony Perkins to status of director on "Psycho III." The finished product was not quite as successful (critically or financially) to the previous picture—the studio allegedly demanded that Perkins add more graphic violence to compete in the genre marketplace of the era—but there is still enough here that makes the picture worthwhile. Equipped with a more colorful visual scheme—lots of deep blues and reds glow like neon throughout—"Psycho III" finds Norman Bates officially reopening his motel, hiring the guitar-strumming, smooth-talking drifter, Duane (Jeff Fahey), as his assistant manager. From out of the desert comes Maureen (Diana Scarwid), a nun who has left her convent in shame after questioning the existence of God and accidentally causing the death of one of her sisters. Norman is drawn to her—she bears a striking resemblance to Marion Crane—but he does not trust himself and what he might be capable of if he gets too close. Meanwhile, a series of murders have started up again by a figure dressed in an old woman's wig and dress.

"Psycho III" does not really try to pretend Norman is innocent to the crimes happening around him, though the killer, usually draped in dark shadows, still carries with him a certain wicked mystique. The story is weaker this time around, never quite finding its focus, and Anthony Perkins—perhaps a casualty of directing himself—gives an oddly stilted performance here, almost as if an impostor has taken over the role. Nevertheless, the filmmaker side of him pays frequent homage to Alfred Hitchcock and cooks up a number of inspired setpieces, including one taking place in a phone booth and another recalling Detective Arbogast's stumble down the stairs in 1960's "Psycho." Diana Scarwid gives a wrenching turn as Maureen, but her participation in the film's second half becomes scattered, at best. "Psycho III" is worth a look, but creatively falls victim to a series that slowly declined with each new entry.

Blu-ray Picture/Sound
 A-/A-

The opening scenes of the high-def, 1080p transfer of "Psycho III" is dotted with light but noticeable white and black specks over the image before clearing up nicely. From this point on, the video does not disappoint, taking advantage of the colorful photography and some creepy religious iconography throughout, including a scene where Maureen imagines a habit-wearing figure cloaked in shadow standing over her during her attempted suicide in the bathtub. "Psycho III" looks fabulous. The DTS-HD 5.1 Master (a 2.0 track is also available) gets off to a powerful start with the opening line, Maureen's anguished exclamation, "There is no God!" It's enough to send a chill down one's spine, and what follows, while not able to live up to a reference-quality audio mix of a new movie, holds solid fidelity and effectively subtle uses of the back channels. The music score is in especially fine shape, Carter Burwell's layered, offbeat orchestrations coming fully alive. The creepy ambient chanting on the soundtrack during the climax is a highlight.

Blu-ray Features
Audio Commentary with Screenwriter Charles Edward Pogue, Moderated by Michael Felsher; "Watch the Guitar" - Interview with Actor Jeff Fahey (16:49, HD); "Patsy's Last Night" - Interview with Actress Katt Shea (8:40, HD); "Mother's Maker" - Interview with Special Make-Up Effects Creator Michael Westmore (11:12, HD); "Body Double" - Interview with Brinke Stevens (5:14, HD); Trailer (1:54, HD); Still Gallery (8:17, HD)

Bottom Line
Scream Factory's Blu-ray release of "Psycho III" earns its "Collector's Edition" claim with a satisfying audio commentary track and a number of enjoyable, detail-heavy interviews newly produced for this disc. Katt Shea's and Jeff Fahey's remembrances of working with the late Anthony Perkins are invaluable, and they clearly have a lot of pride in having contributed, in some small way, to Hitchcock's legacy. The film looking and sounding first-rate besides, Scream Factory has gone above and beyond in their treatment of this underappreciated relic of the 1980s. Fans of "Psycho III," or anyone who might be on the fence about a purchase, should not hesitate to pick up this terrific Blu-ray release. Highly recommended.

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© 2013 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman

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