In which a classic film gets an ’80s makeover

Movie reviews


Psycho III, Universal Pictures, 1986.

Psycho II came 22 years after the original and bore no semblance of the era it was released in. There were no discernible hints of the time period during which it was conceived. III however, does just the opposite. It embraces the 1980’s with the style, the hair and a synth-pop soundtrack. It’s also designed to fit the era.

Slashers were huge at the time and although there was never much gore in Psycho, this sequel feels more like a slasher and features much more gore and blood. III also significantly shorter and less complex than the first two films, a product of it’s era.

The movie follows the events of II. Norman Bates is at it again with the motel and presumed to be sane and innocent following the events of the second film. He hires a teenager to help him out at the hotel where a lot of parties and sleazy activities start to happen. Bates seems fine until a new girl with a fascinating backstory comes to town. The girl looks a lot like one of Bates’ most popular victim, Marion Crane. With her short hair and “M.C.” Initials, Norman becomes captivated by her. From then on, it unfolds almost exactly as  you’d imagine it to.

Psycho II felt like a continuation of the original, by contrast,  III feels much more like a sequel. It falls prey to some of the trends that were happening at the time. The focus is still Norman Bates but there is a significant amount of time spent on teenage characters. They were obviously trying to cater to Psycho fans while attempting to appeal to teenagers. That means we get issues relating to teenagers: some characters run away, there’s abuse, nudity and sleaze that is unnecessary in the context of a Psycho film.

They also turned up the gore factor as well this time around, but it looks somewhat cartoony and a slasher flick doesn’t quite fit the more psychological aspects of a movie like Psycho. It was odd to see Norman fall in love with someone, but it provided some new depth to the character.

This time around we get to see much more of the motel. We are taken inside the cabins which is a treat in itself. It’s interesting to not that Anthony Perkins took reigns as director here, his first time directing in fact.

One can see a structure within the film that’s very similar to the original Psycho. There is also a nice homage towards the end where Perkins shines once more. The second film took some liberties with the backstory and the character of mother, it was nice to see the original story reinstated here.

Psycho III is definitely a product of it’s time and objectively some of it’s components haven’t held up all that well. It’s a fun sequel, but it feels like just that, a sequel. Some of the content was there purely to compete with what was out at the time. Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho is a timeless classic and cinematic masterpiece.Psycho II followed a similar pace and although it failed to match the original it proved to be a worthy sequel. III is the worst thus far. It was a product of the ’80s, leaned towards a different direction and moved at a faster pace (only an hour and a half). A passable entry, more fun to talk about than watch. 2.5/5 stars.


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