[31 Days of Horror: The Final Chapter] Day 20 – Psycho III (1986)

Director: Anthony Perkins

Cast: Anthony Perkins, Diana Scarwid, Jeff Fahey

Screenplay: Charles Edward Pogue

93 mins. Rated R.

 

A friend of mine once told me that he believes the Psycho franchise to the most underappreciated franchise in horror. When I pined, he told me that while most people regard the original film as a classic, the sequels are mostly dismissed as they started appearing over two decades after the first film. When I saw Psycho II, I got what he meant. No, it isn’t the first film, but it doesn’t try to be. Today, we’ll take a look at the follow-up, directed by Anthony Perkins (Lucky Stiff) himself.

When Maureen (Diana Scarwid, What Lies Beneath, Another Happy Day), a nun, has a horrible accident, she goes on the run, leaving her old life behind. She finally ends up at the Bates Motel, being run by Norman Bates (Perkins). Norman has a new assistant in Duane (Jeff Fahey, Grindhouse, Atomic Shark) and a whole lot of skeletons in his closet after murdering Emma Spool, the woman claiming to be Norman’s true birth mother.

Psycho III isn’t as clean as its predecessors. There are a lot of moving parts here and they don’t hold up as well as what has come before. There is a subplot with the disappearance of Mrs. Spool and the journalist who suspects Norman. There’s the plot with Maureen and her striking resemblance to Marion Crane. Then there’s Duane, who has a plan of his own. Sadly, the multitude of plot points don’t hit as well as they did in Psycho II.

The film does have its merits, though. There are plenty of callbacks and referential material to firmly tie this film to the rest, and it does build on the story without retread. Psycho III takes its own path without falling back on the same story over and over. Sometimes, the film’s connective tissue with the original film helps, sometimes it does not.

Overall, Psycho III works well enough, though it never reaches the heights that it could or should. First-time director Perkins can’t juggle the pieces as well as should, but fans of the first two will find enough to like in this third installment.

 

3/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my review of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, click here.

For my review of Richard Franklin’s Psycho II, click here.

 

For more Almighty Goatman,

[31 Days of Horror: The Final Chapter] Day 19 – Patrick (1978)

Director: Richard Franklin

Cast: Susan Penhaglion, Robert Helpmann, Rod Mullinar

Screenplay: Everett De Roche

112 mins. Rated PG.

 

 

I really just picked out Patrick because I have a friend named Patrick. This one’s for you, Patrick.

So Patrick is an Ozploitation horror film from the 1970s  directed by Richard Franklin (Psycho II, Road Games). Susan Penhaglion (Soldier of Orange, Top Dog) plays Kathy, a nurse who takes on a new patient in Patrick, who killed his parents three years ago and now lies in a coma. Hospital owner Dr. Roget (Robert Helpmann, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Henry V) explains that Patrick is being kept alive for studies. What they do not know, however, is that Patrick has psychokinetic powers and can leave his body at will to commit all sorts of horrors. Can Kathy figure out how to stop it?

Well, Patrick is rather boring. Not my friend. Hi, Patrick. No, the movie Patrick is rather boring. Richard Franklin failed to bring life to this comatose film that has an interesting conceit but blows it all on meandering plot threads and little to no scares. You might think that Patrick perhaps just hasn’t aged well.

The movie, not my friend. Patrick, you have aged just fine.

Patrick, the movie, hasn’t aged well, but I think altogether, it didn’t work long ago and age has just not been kind.

I didn’t find the characters interesting, but I respect that they too started out well and were interesting at the beginning, but failure to further explore them with an interesting narrative tanked the movie.

I’ve heard that Everett De Roche’s screenplay was, at one point, over 250 pages (a massive tome that would’ve translated to a four-hour film), and that Franklin helped him fine-tune it. Well, the film feels like it retained that weighty rambling tone but cut all the interesting pieces.

Sadly, I don’t like Patrick all that much. The movie. My friend Patrick is pretty cool. I don’t think you’ll like Patrick. But if you ever meet my friend, he’s alright in my book.

 

  • Patrick (1/5)
  • Patrick, my friend (4.5/5)
  • Patrick, the poster (4/5)

[The poster is pretty damn cool, though, right?]

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

 

For my review of Richard Franklin’s Psycho II, click here.

 

For more Almighty Goatman,

[31 Days of Horror 3] Psycho II (1983)

psychoii1983a

Director: Richard Franklin

Cast: Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles, Meg Tilly, Robert Loggia

Screenplay: Tom Holland

113 mins. Rated R.

 

Who would ever believe that a sequel to Psycho, twenty years later, would actually be successful? Psycho II was just that, earning roughly $34 million at the box office. It spawned two further sequels and a slew of other media properties. Crazy. Today, after years of avoiding it, I looked at Psycho II.

psychoii1983b

Twenty-two years after the unspeakable crimes he committed, Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins, The Trial, Crimes of Passion) has been released from the mental institution against the wishes of Lila Loomis (Vera Miles, The Searchers, The Initiation), sister of his victim Marion Crane, who amassed 743 signatures to keep him locked up. Once Norman gets comfortable, he takes on a job at a nearby diner where he meets Mary Samuels (Meg Tilly, The Big Chill, Body Snatchers), a nice young woman who quickly becomes friends with Norman. But as things in Norman’s life start to look better, trouble starts, and bodies pile up, and all eyes are on Norman. Is he responsible? Or is something far more sinister happening?

This sequel appears in many ways to be heading down the same path as the original Alfred Hitchcock classic, but then director Richard Franklin (Road Games, Cloak & Dagger) and screenwriter Tom Holland (Child’s Play, Thinner) throw in some genuinely intriguing twists and turns that kept me guessing the entire runtime. Not every plot point plays out the way it should, but overall, Psycho II does offers some shocks and surprises as a worthwhile sequel.

The film is further elevated by standout performances from Vera Miles’ return as Lila Loomis and franchise newcomer Robert Loggia (Scarface, Independence Day) as Norman’s doctor Bill Raymond, who does his best to transition Norman to the real world, however difficult the task becomes.

psychoii1983c

Now, I felt that the last half of the film gets a little too convoluted in trying to play mind games with the audience, and I’m still not sure I walked away with all the answers, but maybe that’s the idea. It just didn’t work as well as it could have. Psycho II is still the kind of sequel that further develops its characters and provides an interesting if somewhat similar and easy plot. I actually enjoyed it. There you have it.

 

3.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my review of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, click here.

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