blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Psycho III (1986, Anthony Perkins)

Anthony Perkins and Diana Scarwid star in PSYCHO III, directed by Perkins for Universal Pictures.

I’m a little upset. Anthony Perkins only directed two pictures and one of them–this one–was written by Charles Edward Pogue. Pogue’s a bit of punchline, but at least most of Psycho III is well-plotted. His dialogue, especially at the beginning, is iffy, but it might also have been Perkins getting used to directing actors.

Psycho III takes place a month after Psycho II. While II was a really sensitive attempt to follow up on a famous cinema character, it ended weakly. III attempts, eventually, to right the misstep. I can’t figure out why Maltin, for instance, says this one’s played for laughs. It’s even sadder in some ways than the second film, with Perkins’s Norman finding the hint of real redemption and real human concern, only to have it destroyed.

Perkins, I think, did stage work and he directs the good actors in Psycho III like stage actors. The scenes with him and Diana Scarwid, for example, are just lovely, the two of them really understanding how to share the space and the time. Scenes with Jeff Fahey, not so much. Fahey’s awful in Psycho III and it’s sort of shocking no one realized the attempted rapist–Fahey’s establishing characteristic–was a villain deserving of a spectacular end.

Though the IMDb trivia says he was supposedly–initially–the villain.

Unfortunately, the film ends on its own misstep.

But it’s a fine ride to it. Especially with Carter Burwell’s fantastic (synthesizer-heavy?) score and Bruce Surtees’s luscious photography.



Directed by Anthony Perkins; screenplay by Charles Edward Pogue, based on characters created by Robert Bloch; director of photography, Bruce Surtees; edited by David E. Blewitt; music by Carter Burwell; production designer, Henry Bumstead; produced by Hilton A. Green; released by Universal Pictures.

Starring Anthony Perkins (Norman Bates), Diana Scarwid (Maureen Coyle), Jeff Fahey (Duane Duke), Roberta Maxwell (Tracy Venable), Hugh Gillin (Sheriff John Hunt), Lee Garlington (Myrna) and Robert Alan Browne (Ralph Statler).


2 responses to “Psycho III (1986, Anthony Perkins)”

  1. I saw this film a couple months ago. Regarding the bad reviews at the time I think this film is not that bad. Shame it shattered Perkins career as a director.

  2. This is a great film! The look of the old house, the revamped motel below, and the occasional tumbleweed that blows by. It certainly creates a great atmosphere and as mentioned, it really is a shame Perkins wasn’t able to direct anything after this film. I’ve always felt Jeff Fahey’s performances are a little “dodgy” anyway but somehow I’ve always found the heart to forgive him because of this film. Bruce Surtees cinematography is great, especially that lovely crane shot where the camera rises from the ground up to “Mother’s” window as she and Norman converse. I found Hugh Gillin’s portrayal of Sheriff Hunt a little odd in this installment. He seems more of a comedian in this film compared to his performance in Richard Franklin’s “Psycho II”. Perkins, himself is great as usual and you really do feel sorry for him after Diana Scarwid’s character has tumbled to her death and he screams out in frustration and agony.
    Carter Burwell’s score is another great addition to the Psycho legacy, going its own way and not trying to imitate anything that came before it in the series. By the way, the instrument Burwell uses here is called a Synclavier.
    It’s a movie you should see and a great addition to any DVD collection.

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