Psycho III (1986)

psycho iii

“Mother! Oh God Mother! Blood, blood!”

The Scoop: 1986 R, directed by Anthony Perkins and starring Anthony Perkins, Diana Scarwid, and Jeff Fahey

Tagline: Norman Bates is back to normal. But Mother’s off her rocker again!

Summary Capsule: Norman unleashes the inner Mother as future corpses descend upon the Bates Motel

Justin’s rating: Reet Reet Reet

Justin’s review: Remember how I said that Psycho II managed to resist the siren’s call of ’80s slasher cinema by being a psychological horror piece that’s just coincidentally starring one of the best-known serial killers of the silver screen? Yeah, go ahead and toss all that out the window for the second sequel to Alfred Hitchcock’s suspense classic. Norman Bates is back, baby, and in full-fledged ’80s splattermode.

The setup to the Psycho sequels strains credibility and then some. It’s not like this serial killer has supernatural powers, returns from the dead, is often thought a myth by local nudist bathers, or is nigh-unstoppable. Nay, Psycho‘s serial killer is a man in his 50s sporting a scarecrow physique and an expression that telegraphs “Stay at my hotel and chances are 50-50 you’re going to wake up with several new puncture wounds.”

Norman Bates is constantly odd and twitchy and William Shatner-like with… his speech… and how he… moves. And yet the series expects you to buy the fact that he’s never caught for his crimes or really suspected by anyone. It’s like the community knows he’s a serial killer, but it’s kind of their one claim to fame? And they’d hate to give that up just because an odd dope-smoking dweeb gets hacked to pieces by “Mother” once in a while?

Anyway, Norman is still tending to his shoddy motel and residing in one of the most infamous mansions in film history with his long-dead yet well-preserved mother (his second one, if you’re keeping count). He’s a little dismayed that the ’80s have brought a tide of sex to his establishment, but since naked people flesh is what brought in the horror viewers that decade, he’s just going to have to put up with it. At the start of the movie he seems more or less normal, but that’s just a façade before the ticking time bomb of insanity rears up once again.

The catalyst for this film’s craziness include a convergence of a nosy reporter, a serial killer-supportive sheriff, a horde of teenagers, and a sleazy guy named Duke who likes to plaster his motel room with pictures from porn magazines. Because “Dukes” tend to be classy. Top this off with a suicidal ex-nun on the run — we kid ye not — who falls in love with Norman (and vice-versa), and things heat up to a boil.

These sequels put themselves in the difficult position of making the killer a protagonist that they want you to root for, and then feel bad in doing so. Between “I’m crazy, you’re crazy, we’re all crazy” heart-to-hearts, there’s a lot of scenes where Norman covers up for “Mother’s” doing in what I’m sure was supposed to be a nail-biting fashion. The references to the original Psycho border on parody — the “we all go a little mad sometimes” line, the twist on the old shower scene — and the nudity and violence quotient are ramped up to keep this film in line with Jason and Chucky and all the rest.

I’m pretty sure the only reason Anthony Perkins returned to further pigeonhole himself as “that Bates guy” was that he was handed the reins to direct it as well, and while it isn’t a complete wash (remember: suicidal ex-nun on the run), it’s a disappointing drop in quality for this franchise. Alas, they didn’t stop while they were behind, and Psycho IV would soon follow straight-to-cable.

“Could you pass a packet of dead mother? I mean, sugar? What?”


  • 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 originally suggested the film be shot in black and white but Universal opposed it.
  • That’s one way to get more animals for taxidermy
  • Attempted rapist vs. Norman Bates. This should be interesting.
  • Loads of double entendres/ironic lines
  • Eww… suicide is gross.
  • “The Wet Look”? Huh?
  • He’s the worst kisser ever.
  • Mary’s book from Psycho II (“In the Belly of the Beast”) is seen laying in the dirt, by Norman’s house.

Groovy Quotes

Nun: Wasn’t your own sin red enough? You’ll burn in hell for this! You’ll burn in hell!

Norman Bates: Mother! Oh God Mother! Blood, blood!

If you liked this movie, try these:

  • Psycho
  • Psycho II
  • Psycho IV: The Beginning

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