Despite its numeric title, Psycho III is better than one might think. In the directors seat, Anthony Perkins makes an assured, even at times dazzling debut. There are some very nice cinematographic set-ups and often stunning cuts between scenes. Perkins proves extraordinarily playful, even including a restaging of climactic fall from the tower from Hitchcocks Vertigo (1958) in the opening moments. He certainly shows off at times, as though determined in his possibly one chance in the directors seat to use every visual effect at his disposal. In one dazzling and outrageous move, he manages to combine a restaging of the shower murder with a vision of the Virgin Mary, wherein Norman enters the shower room just as Diana Scarwid attempt to commit suicide, where the sudden sight of him in drag holding a knife to her becomes a vision of the Virgin Mary holding a crucifix and the point she suddenly regains her lost faith. The juxtapositions of symbolism in the scene are as extraordinary as they are outrageous.
Where the film falters is in screenwriter Charles Edward Pogues failing to structure its script as a mystery like both the original and previous sequel did. It feels merely like a linear series of happenings that have been shuffled around like a deck of cards. Certainly, Pogue plays with interesting ideas the aforementioned outrageous Catholic imagery, the similarity between Maureen and Marion Crane but the lack of a psycho-thriller structure underneath leaves little for Anthony Perkins the director to play jack-in-the-box with in terms of surprises. Pogue does develop a romance for Norman but the disposal of the other character just at the point when it starts to get interesting is a severe miscalculation that leaves the film on a big downer from which it never recovers. Pogues other dubious contribution is in winding the black humour up to a campy level. Norman offers up ominous lines: Nobody stays here long, or Ive seen it worse, in reference to the mess that Maureen made in the bathroom during her suicide attempt. Even Hitchcock would surely have balked at the final image that Perkins goes out on of Norman clutching his mothers mummified hand.
Anthony Perkinss only other outing as director was Lucky Stiff (1989), a black comedy about a cannibalistic family. Perkins died in 1992 of AIDS-related illnesses. Screenwriter Charles Edward Pogue went onto write a number of other genre screenplays, including The Hound of the Baskervilles (1983), David Cronenbergs remake of The Fly (1986), DragonHeart (1996), Kull the Conqueror (1997) and Hercules (tv mini-series, 2005).
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