Psycho 3 (1989) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Toward the end of his long performing career, Anthony Perkins experimented with directing. He directed two films, this one and Lucky Stiff, a black comedy about a guy who marries into a family of cannibals, and starts to worry when they ask to have him for dinner. Perkins wasn't in Lucky Stiff, so Psycho III is the only film in which he directed himself.

It's kind of a shame that Lucky Stiff was such a bomb, because Psycho III isn't half bad, and Perkins may have made a good director of genre pics. In this movie, his Norman is just as loony as ever, of course, but "mother" keeps showing up in places that Norman doesn't know about. Mother even writes him a note. So what's going on? When Norman gets a note from his mother, is he sane enough to know that she's incapable of writing it?


Brinke Stevens shows her faceless breasts and buns as the body double for Diana Scarwid.

Juliette Cummins shows her breasts in a lengthy sex and post-sex scene with Jeff Fahey.

Finding out the answer to those questions is the fun of the film.

The film includes one great Hitchcockian moment when Norman has hidden a body in an ice machine, and the sheriff takes some ice out to cool himself on a hot day, so immersed in the cool sensation that he never notices that the ice is dripping with blood. All the while, Norman's heart is racing with fear.

Is "Norman Bates" the most universally recognized character name in film history? It must be very close to the top, so universally familiar that SNL or any morning DJ can joke about the Norman Bates school of Motel Management without any fear of being misunderstood.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • widescreen letterboxed 1.85:1

  • no significant features

Here are some interesting trivia facts about the gentle, dignified man who came to be so clearly identified with screen insanity:

  • Was a college classmate of Fred Rogers (aka "Mr. Rogers").

  • Is in the middle generation of a three generation family of movie actors. The other two are his dad (Osgood) and his son (Oz).

  • Perkins' widow, Berry Berenson was one of the victims of a terrorist-hijacked plane that crashed into the World Trade Center on Sept 11, 2001.

  • There is Psycho V footage out there somewhere, but it was shelved when Perkins died.

The Critics Vote

  • Ebert 3/4, but his praise was more of an exception than the consensus about the film.

The People Vote ...

  • with their dollars: USA domestic gross $14.4 million.


IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C. Unexceptional, but pretty solid thriller.

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