Psycho III (Blu-ray) (1986)

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Released 2-Mar-2016

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Featurette-Watch the Guitar - An Interview with Jeff Fahey
Featurette-Patsy's Last Night - An Interview with Katt Shea
Featurette-Mother's Maker - An Interview with Michael Westmore
Featurette-Body Double with Brinke Stevens
Theatrical Trailer
Gallery-Photo
Audio Commentary-with Charles Edward Pogue
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 1986
Running Time 92:50
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Anthony Perkins
Studio
Distributor

ViaVision
Starring Anthony Perkins
Diana Scarwid
Jeff Fahey
Roberta Maxwell
Hugh Gillin
Lee Garlington
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Carter Burwell


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English DTS HD Master Audio 2.0
English Audio Commentary DTS HD Master Audio 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

††† The decision to create so much as one sequel to Alfred Hitchcockís Psycho was risky, but the crew behind 1983ís Psycho II made it work, resulting in a strong follow-up that also stands as a terrific thriller on its own terms. Another sequel was seriously pushing it, and itís unfortunate to report that 1986ís Psycho III is a tremendous step down in quality. Although Psycho III is built on an interesting conceptual framework and further develops the story of Norman Bates, the execution is mediocre at best, resulting in a 90-minute slasher that feels closer to a Friday the 13th instalment. Nevertheless, itís a blessing that the picture is not as idiotic or as insulting as it might have been in less deft hands, and one must admire Anthony Perkinsí courage to both star in and direct the movie despite having no filmmaking experience.

††† Taking place about a month after the events of Psycho II, Norman Bates (Perkins) is still the sole caretaker of the Bates Motel, living in his familyís ancient house which stands adjacent. Falling back into mental instability, Norman keeps the rotting corpse of his ďmotherĒ in her room upstairs, and she is prone to murdering the motel guests if they do not sit right with her. Norman seeks to hire another pair of hands to help with watching over the motel, recruiting wily wannabe musician Duane Duke (Jeff Fahey). Meanwhile, a new patron has moved into the motel; troubled former nun Maureen (Diana Scarwid), who strongly reminds Norman of one of his victims, Marion Crane. As Norman and Maureen grow closer and feel a mutual attraction to one another, Normanís mother grows unhappy with their relationship. Complicating matters further, tenacious reporter Tracy Venable (Roberta Maxwell) begins snooping around, determined to uncover proof that Norman is responsible for the recent disappearances of several people.

††† From the very outset, we know that Norman is a schizophrenic murderer again, with writer Charles Edward Pogue providing a behind-the-curtain glimpse of Norman conversing with his dead mother and preparing to kill. In theory itís interesting to see this side of Norman, but Psycho III is low on surprises. Psychoís ending was groundbreaking, while Psycho II also packed a handful of shocking twists, but Psycho IIIís conclusion is unsurprising and rote, making little impact. Itís clever to turn this instalment into more of a character study, but Pogue and Perkins do not take full advantage of the set-up. Furthermore, Psycho III was never going to live up to Hitchcockís film in any capacity, but it keeps inviting comparisons. Psycho II worked because it found its own voice while subtly paying homage to the Master of Suspense, but Psycho III takes things a step further, with murders that visually recreate the death scenes in the 1960 original. Itís too awestruck with Hitchcockís film, and as a result itís not bold enough to try anything innovative. In fact, itís so awestruck with Hitch in general, as Perkins even stages a homage to Vertigo to open the picture. Psycho III is at its best when it introduces its own creative, twisted moments, including a marvellous scene in which the sheriff eats from the motelís tainted ice machine. In another perfect moment, Norman as Mother is on a rampage, but decides to straighten up a painting while pursuing his victim.

††† The true horror of Hitchcockís Psycho was its ďless is moreĒ approach, necessitated because Hitch had strict censorship guidelines to adhere to, else his movie would not be released. The Master of Suspense took the limitations in his stride, resulting in a very classy horror movie. A knife is never shown piercing the skin, with the death scenes creatively shot to compel us to mentally fill in the blanks. Psycho III, on the other hand, was created in a different time period, when gratuitous í80s slashers were rampant, hence on-screen nudity and explicit violence was not only allowed but encouraged. Perkins (bless his heart) gives it his all, but his directorial approach is too obvious and unremarkable, and consequently Psycho III lacks scares and chilling moments. Itís all a bit rote, and one must wonder what a Hitchcock-inspired virtuoso like Brian De Palma couldíve made of this project. That said, there is one aspect of Psycho III that really works: Carter Burwellís terrific synch score. Itís a far cry from Bernard Herrmannís music, but Burwellís work is nicely atmospheric.

††† Even if the film is marred by several issues, Perkinsí performance as Norman Bates is as brilliant as always has been. Norman represents an ideal antithesis to slasher movie icons; although he does commit unspeakably brutal acts of murder, heís morally conflicted about it, coming across as a man-child unable to control his mental state. You feel genuine sympathy for Norman, and though you know that he needs to be locked up again, you do not want him to be caught or arrested. Also good here is Scarwid as Maureen, while Fahey is wonderfully sleazy as Duke.

††† Psycho III is not essential viewing, and, like Psycho II, itís unable to recapture the artistry and ingeniousness of Hitchcockís original film. Psycho really did not need any sequels, and it doesnít help that this is pretty much a run-of-the-mill í80s slasher. Still, itís a worthwhile enough continuation of Psycho II, and those interested in the Bates mythos should find it to be a fun watch.

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Transfer Quality

Video

††† As with its immediate predecessor, Psycho III is presented in 1080p high definition, framed at 1.84:1 (OAR is 1.85:1) and encoded in MPEG-4 AVC. It appears to be a direct port of the Region A Shout! Factory transfer, with the HD master supplied by Universal. Itís a decent presentation, very similar in quality to Psycho II, which is to say it does have its unfortunate issues.

††† Grain is kept intact at least, retaining a nice amount of detail, and colour is often terrific. Itís a stable image with adequate sharpness, and Via Visionís encode does not yield any aliasing or banding, though there is some slight crush and minor ringing. In well-lit outdoor scenes, the transfer is often eye-catching, lending a sense of atmosphere and doing justice to the original photography. Close-ups reveal plenty of detail, not to mention lifelike flesh-tones.

††† The transfer is peppered with an assortment of flecks and blemishes, even more than in Psycho II, though itís not too much of an issue. However, the image does tend to be a bit muddy and smeary, lacking that ďpopĒ of HD excellence we have seen for films of a similar vintage. This type of issue is common with Universal transfers, so this would be the fault of the master rather then Via Visionís presentation.

††† Psycho III looks respectable on Blu-ray, but falls short of greatness, looking a bit more like a HD TV broadcast or a compressed video file than a crisp Blu-ray disc. But as with Psycho II, Iíll take it, as I doubt the movie will ever receive a top-notch 4K remaster to rectify the flaws of this image. Casual movie-goers probably wonít have much of an issue with the presentation, but fussy videofiles might be let down a tad.

††† There is only one subtitle track, in English.


Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

††† Via Vision offers two main audio options for the movie: a remixed DTS-HD MA 5.1 track, and a DTS-HD MA 2.0 track which recreates the original mono sound design. As with Psycho II, the 5.1 track is tastefully done, but itís nothing outstanding. Still, the extra surround activity does make the aural experience a bit fuller and more immersive, and it doesnít replace any sound effects or b******ise the soundtrack.

††† Carter Burwellís ominous, atmospheric score makes plenty of impact from the outset, while the dialogue is always well-prioritised and crisp. No hissing or crackling poses any issues; itís smooth sailing.

††† Psycho III sounds perfectly good on Blu-ray, and with the audio being lossless, it sounds so much better than a DVD. The disc also offers an audio commentary, encoded in DTS-HD 2.0.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

††† As with Psycho II, this disc contains everything from the Region A Shout! Factory disc, with a handful of really worthwhile recently-recorded interviews.

Watch the Guitar - An Interview with Jeff Fahey (HD; 16:50)

††† This recently-recorded interview with Fahey is genuinely fantastic, with the actor conveying his strong memories about working on Psycho III, and how he looks back on the experience nearly three decades on. His insight into the production is priceless, talking about the audition process with Anthony Perkins, and about the filming of several key scenes. He was also truly grateful to have a job at the time. Well worth watching.

Patsy's Last Night - An Interview with Katt Shea (HD; 8:41)

††† Another genuinely insightful extra, this is an interview with Katt Shea, who went on to become a director (Psycho III was her final acting role). Although brief, Shea has a lot of interesting anecdotes about the process of making the movie, from the audition when Perkins loved her straight away (and called her his leading lady), to the filming of a number of her scenes. She talks a fair amount about working with Perkins (who was very stressed during production), who at one stage stuck her in an ice box with real ice.

Mother's Maker - An Interview with Special Make-Up Effects Creator Michael Westmore (HD; 11:13)

††† The next interview subject is a veteran of the make-up/special effects industry, Michael Westmore, who first started at Universal in the early 1960s. Westmore recalls working on Psycho III, with Perkins aiming to bring together a crew of veterans to make the film more special. He goes into detail about many of his special effect creations and several key scenes, and speaks about how much he cherished working with Perkins.

Body Double with Brinke Stevens (HD; 5:15)

††† This last interview piece is with Brinke Stevens, who was a body double in Psycho III, and who was in a number of B-grade horror movies. Stevens talks about the process which led to her being hired, and what it was like working with Perkins (who sounds utterly endearing). It might seem that interviewing a body double (who was only in one scene) is grasping at straws, but Stevens is insightful enough.

Trailers (SD; 1:55)

††† One brief trailer and a TV spot. Interesting from a historical perspective, though the video is in pretty bad shape.

Still Gallery (HD)

††† An extensive gallery of 100 stills, with publicity shots, poster art and on-set photographs. Itís interesting to see Perkins interacting with his actors, and being the director in general. Definitely worth going through.

Audio Commentary with Charles Edward Pogue

††† Sitting down with DVD producer Michael Felsher, screenwriter Charles Edward Pogue provides a mostly interesting discussion about Psycho III. He does almost instantly attack Psycho II, calling its climactic twist misguided, and explaining that he wanted to ďfixĒ that perceived mistake with his (inferior) instalment. Pogue isnít even shy about saying that he has not even seen Psycho IV: The Beginning, explaining that he had an idea for a fourth film but the studio went in another direction. Anyway, this commentary is a worthwhile listen, though itís not exactly technical, owing to Pogueís status as a writer. Both men are evidently fond of the movie, and talk enthusiastically about a number of aspects. As with the commentary on Psycho II, this track is not available from the special features submenu; only the ďAudio SetupĒ submenu.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

† † Our local release is a direct port of the Shout! Factory disc (there are only a few disc menu differences), with the same HD presentation and the same extras. A draw.

Summary

††† The worst of the four Psycho movies (though not as bad as the remake), Psycho III has its moments, but it's a bit flaccid overall, and looks even worse compared to Hitchcock's original movie. Fans of the movie should be happy with this disc, as it sports reasonable video, terrific audio and a wonderful supply of insightful extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Thursday, December 17, 2015
Review Equipment
DVDPlayStation 4, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 42LW6500. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationLG BH7520TW
SpeakersLG Tall Boy speakers, 5.1 set-up, 180W

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