Thursday, March 19, 2015

Short Attention Span Review: Psycho III (1986)

Stop me if you've heard this one before: Alfred Hitchock's Psycho is a masterpiece.  As is the case with many classics, it spawned sequels, most of which were relatively tame.  However, the third picture in the series, directed by star Anthony Perkins, is a worthy follow-up.  Now, it's nowhere near as good as the original, but that should come as no surprise.  Still, it's an intriguing opportunity to revisit one of the horror genre's most iconic figures and the plot provides us with a few twists and turns during our third stay at the Bates Motel.  Perkins had the art of playing Norman Bates down to a science and he also showed himself to be a fine director with this tense and disturbing thriller.  Diana Scarwid is also impressive as a conflicted nun on the run who flees the convent and takes refuge at the Bates Motel.  Bad call, right?  Most importantly, Jeff Fahey is on hand as Duane, a seedy drifter who takes a job at the motel and proves to be almost as kooky and dangerous as Norman.  Those who know me well know that I'm a big fan of Fahey and this performance is one of the reasons why.  He adds so much to the movie and his character is a tremendous foil for Perkins.  Their volatile relationship generates a wealth of tension in the third act of the picture.  There are a few scenes in the mix that would have made Hitchcock proud, to include a choice bit where the sheriff casually scoops cubes out of an ice machine where a corpse is stashed while Norman watches, sweating bullets.  There are a handful of gruesome demises and a lot suspense, but this isn't the type of picture that depends on cheap scares or gore.  It's quirky but serious, twisted but deliberate, and it showcases a unique talent in a part he was born to play.  Perkins also shows that he could direct everyone's favorite momma's boy as well and his Psycho III is a strange little thriller that delivers the goods.

Final Grade: B-
Jeff Fahey damn near steals the show as Duane, the master of lamp foreplay.

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