Psycho III (1986)

Genres - Horror  |   Sub-Genres - Slasher Film  |   Release Date - Jul 2, 1986 (USA)  |   Run Time - 93 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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This modest but stylish chiller occasionally dips into slasher movie mayhem, but is otherwise surprisingly witty and inspired. Charles Edward Pogue's tidy script skillfully alternates its gruesome bits of business with plenty of snappy dialogue and works in some clever twists, including a new revelation about Norman's mother. It also incorporates some deliciously macabre bits of humor, the funniest bit being a moment where Norman tries to keep the other characters from noticing a body stashed in a nearby icebox. In terms of acting, Anthony Perkins pulls off the difficult balancing act of being both sympathetic and scary as Norman Bates. His work is nicely bolstered by some excellent supporting performances, including Jeff Fahey's reptilian turn as the amoral, silver-tongued drifter out to rip Norman off and Diana Scarwid's affecting work as the vulnerable ex-nun who falls for Norman. Perkins also does a surprisingly accomplished job as director, working in inspired visual quotes from Vertigo and the original Psycho and also staging some unique sequences of his own design (the best is a stunning moment where the suicidal heroine mistakes a backlit Norman for the Virgin Mary). The only real problems with Psycho III are that it sometimes goes a bit too heavy on blood during its shock sequences and also throws in some gratuitous nudity, the most unusual moment being a bizarre and arty sex scene that feels like it was cut in from a Zalman King production. Despite these occasional lapses, Psycho III is a tight little thriller that is likely to please horror fans.