Franchise Review: Psycho III

Norman Bates falls in love with a fallen nun who stays at the Bates Motel alongside a drifter and a curious reporter. Meanwhile, ‘Mother’ is still watching.

With the surprise success of “Psycho II” it was always inevitable that the studio would want to make another. The film ultimately picks up where the previous film left as it takes place one month after the events of “Psycho II”.

I really enjoyed the storyline of this film which sees ‘Bates’ now being harassed by an annoying, snooping reporter that is always harassing him about his past. Add in an encounter with a woman who reminds him of ‘Lila Crane’ and we see that ‘Bates’ is on the verge of having a mental break down.

We also see ‘Bates’ take on a member of staff with ‘Duane’, a drifting musician who certainly loves his women. This character works perfectly as even though the two characters are such polar opposites, they both are obviously troubled souls. You can certainly see a bit of ‘Norman’ in the ‘Duane’ character.

This film would see Anthony Perkins take on the directorial duties for the first time in his career. I thought he did an absolutely fantastic job, even though Perkins himself didn’t and stated in an interview before his death that he felt he was not up to the task of directing the film, feeling his technical knowledge to be too limited.

I said that “Psycho II” helped pull the franchise into the modern age, “Psycho III” carries that on. We see more gore and nudity used here and whilst some fans weren’t happy about this I think it had to do something to keep the viewers attention, times had changed and so did the franchise.

“Psycho III” takes the franchise forward and modernises it without ruining it’s legacy, in my opinion it is criminally under rated and that needs rectifying.

Miscellaneous facts about the film:

Actress Juliette Cummins was nearly fired by director Anthony Perkins after making an unintentional joke about his homosexuality.

Anthony Perkins originally suggested the film be shot in black and white as a homage to the original 1960 Hitchcock film but Universal opposed it.

It was Anthony Perkins’s idea to use the unique scene transitions – like the light under a door that is actually a knife, and the scene where Norman leaves the hospital, and closes the door and finds himself in Mother’s room.

Despite this being Anthony Perkins directorial debut, the cast and crew have stated that they enjoyed working with him throughout the production.

Actress Diana Scarwid fondly remembers working with director/star Anthony Perkins and has since gone on to say that she found him loving, sensitive and caring.

During filming of this movie, Anthony Perkins was diagnosed as HIV-positive when he went to a clinic for routine medical examination.

After completion, Universal felt the film needed a better ending with more of a twist, so Anthony Perkins was called back to shoot the final scene.

Anthony Perkins originally wanted to use a stunt woman for the scene where Duane throws Red out of the motel room. Juliette Cummins convinced Perkins to not use a stunt double and did her own stunt for that scene.

The famous opening line “There is no God!” was improvised by actress Diana Scarwid on the set.

Diana Scarwid’s bare bottom nude scene was performed by Scream Queen Brinke Stevens.

Director of Photography Bruce Surtees once quizzed Perkins about his blocking of an upcoming shot, figuring the star would have been unprepared as this was his first directing job. To his surprise, Perkins had blocked out the whole scene and knew what cameras and lenses to use for the scene. Surtees never asked Perkins another question about blocking scenes after that.

When the film went into pre-production, Anthony Perkins asked Psycho II (1983) director Richard Franklin to co-direct the film with him; however Franklin declined.

The lowest grossing film in the Psycho film series, with $14,481,606 in worldwide box office returns.

Actress Katt Shea got the part of Patsy because she read her lines to a bush outside at the audition.

During the opening shots of the Bates house, it shows the cellar window from the second film with fingerprints on the glass. This is a nod to the boy who was murdered.

Mary Loomis’ book from Psycho II (1983) (called “In the Belly of the Beast”) is seen lying in the dirt by Norman’s house.

Anthony Perkins’ main inspiration for the style of this film came from the movie Blood Simple (1984), directed by the Coen brothers. Before production began he even took the entire cast and crew to a screening of the film.

Director Anthony Perkins originally wanted Jeff Fahey to be completely nude in the foreplay scene between Duke and Red, but Fahey felt too uncomfortable being completely nude on camera, so he was allowed to hold two lamps to partially cover himself.

Anthony Perkins’ directorial debut.

Writer Charles Edward Pogue claims that Perkins would get so many off beat ideas for the film that he would often call him late at night to pitch them.

After production wrapped, screenwriter Charles Edward Pogue and Anthony Perkins were asked to pitch an idea for the fourth Psycho film. However, after the film opened to low box office returns, plans for another film were shelved. The third sequel would later on begin development in 1988 and ended up being written by the screenwriter of the original film Joseph Stefano.

Producer Hilton A. Green called this film his least favorite of all the sequels, feeling that there was too much graphic violence and nudity.

The reporter Tracy Venable was originally supposed to be younger. However when Roberta Maxwell was cast, the character became older.

Anthony Perkins (Norman Bates) and Virginia Gregg (Norma Bates) are the only actors to reprise their roles from Psycho (1960) while the two of them, Hugh Gillin (Sheriff John Hunt), Robert Alan Browne (Ralph Statler) and Lee Garlington (Myrna) are the only actors to reprise their roles from Psycho II (1983). Furthermore it was Virginia Gregg’s last movie.

Duane’s line that his name is Duane but “friends call me Duke” is likely a reference to Anatomy of a Murder, in which a witness testifies that his name is Duane: “most people call me Duke”.

Universal had planned the release of the film for 14 February 1986.

According to ‘The Psycho Movies’ website, director ”Anthony Perkins would instruct the cast and crew of the film to wave to the Universal Studios Tram Tour guests saying ‘each one of those people is a butt in the seat’.”

In issue #57 of Fangoria Magazine, screenwriter Charles Edward Pogue revealed the plot of his original script. In this version, it was Duane who was the killer and had intentionally come to the Bates Motel

The ice box with the corpse is placed in had real ice in it. Katt Shea’s blue complexion wasn’t make-up; she was genuinely freezing during the shooting of this scene.

The original script had Duane as the killer emulating Norman Bates’s crimes.

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