Psycho III

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Psycho III
Psycho 3 poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Anthony Perkins
Produced by Hilton A. Green
Written by Charles Edward Pogue
Music by Carter Burwell
Cinematography Bruce Surtees
Edited by David Blewitt
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date
  • July 2, 1986 (1986-07-02)
Running time
92 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $14.4 million

Psycho III is a 1986 American romantic slasher film. It is the second sequel to Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, and the third film in the Psycho series. It stars Anthony Perkins, who also directed the film, reprising the role of Norman Bates. It co-stars Diana Scarwid, Jeff Fahey and Roberta Maxwell. The screenplay is written by Charles Edward Pogue. The original electronic music score is composed and performed by Carter Burwell in one of his earliest projects. The film was a financial failure, becoming the lowest grossing film in the Psycho series. It was followed by the television film Psycho IV: The Beginning. Psycho III is unrelated to Robert Bloch's third Psycho novel, Psycho House, which was released in 1990.

The film takes place one month after the events of Psycho II, Norman Bates is still running the Bates Motel with the corpse of Emma Spool still sitting up in the house. A suicidal nun, with whom Norman falls in love, comes to the motel along with a drifter named Duane Duke and a reporter who is trying to solve the mysterious disappearance of Mrs. Spool.


In 1982, Norman Bates works at the Bates Motel and lives with the preserved corpse of his mother, Emma Spool. Local law enforcement and Norman's ex-boss, Ralph Statler, are concerned because Mrs. Spool has been missing for over a month. Duane Duke, a sleazy musician desperate for money, is offered the job of assistant motel manager to replace the late Warren Toomey who was fired by Norman. Tracy Venable, a journalist from Los Angeles, is working on an article about serial killers being released. She believes Norman is killing again, so when Norman appears at the diner, Tracy attempts to talk with him. Unaware of her ulterior motives, Norman opens up to her but is distracted when Maureen Coyle, a young, mentally unstable former nun, enters. He is startled because she resembles his former victim, Marion Crane. Seeing the initials "M.C." on her suitcase, Norman panics and leaves the diner.

"Mother" enters Maureen's bathroom later that night, intending to kill her, only to find that Maureen has attempted suicide by cutting her wrists. The shock of this causes Norman to reassert his personality while a delirious Maureen mistakes "Mother" holding a knife for the Virgin Mary holding a silver crucifix. Norman brings Maureen to a hospital and offers that she stay as long as she needs to. After she is released, they begin a romantic relationship. Later that night, Duane picks up a girl named Red at a bar, but after Red makes it clear that she wants more than just a fling, Duane throws her out. Red tries to call a cab, but "Mother" shatters the phone booth door and stabs Red to death. The following day, tourists arrive at the motel, where they plan to watch a local football game. Meanwhile, Tracy searches Mrs. Spool's apartment. She discovers the Bates Motel's phone number written on a magazine cover repeatedly.

Patsy Boyle, the only sober guest, is murdered by "Mother". Norman discovers Patsy's body and buries her in the motel's ice chest outside the office. The next morning, Sheriff Hunt and Deputy Leo appear to investigate Patsy's disappearance. Tracy tells Maureen about Norman's past, causing Maureen to stay with Father Brian, who took care of her at the hospital. Norman finds that his mother's corpse is missing and finds a note stating that she is in Cabin 12. Duane demands a large sum of money to keep quiet or else he will turn Norman over to the police. They fight and Norman beats Duane with his guitar until he loses consciousness. Norman drives Duane's car to the swamp with Duane and Patsy's bodies in it. Duane then regains consciousness and attacks Norman, who accidentally drives into the swamp. Norman escapes the car while Duane drowns. Meanwhile, Tracy talks to Statler and Myrna about Mrs. Spool and discovers she was working at the diner before Statler bought it from Harvey Leach. Tracy meets with Leach, a resident at an assisted living facility, and is informed that Mrs. Spool had also been institutionalized for murder.

Maureen convinces herself that Norman is her true love and returns to the motel. Norman and Maureen share a tender moment at the top of the staircase when "Mother" shouts furiously at Norman, startling him. He loses his grip on Maureen's hands, causing her to fall down the stairs, killing her. Enraged, Norman promises "Mother" that he will get her for this. Tracy enters the house and finds Maureen dead, then sees Norman dressed as "Mother" bearing a knife, but is unable to flee. She tries reasoning with Norman by explaining his family history: Emma Spool was his aunt and was in love with Norman's father, but he married her sister, Norma. Mrs. Spool kidnapped Norman when he was a baby, after killing Mr. Bates, believing Norman was the child "she should have had with him". When she was caught, Norman was returned to Norma while Mrs. Spool was institutionalized. Tracy discovers Mrs. Spool's corpse in the bedroom. Norman takes off his dress. "Mother" orders him to kill Tracy, but when Norman raises the knife, he attacks "Mother" instead, dismembering Mrs. Spool's corpse. Sheriff Hunt takes Norman to his squad car. Hunt informs Norman that they may never release him from the institution again. Norman replies: "But I'll be free...I'll finally be free." In the back of the squad car, Norman caresses a trophy he concealed: the severed hand of Mrs. Spool. He strokes the hand and smiles craftily.



Psycho III:
Music from the Motion Picture
Soundtrack album
Released July 1986
Genre Soundtrack
Length 30:39
Label MCA Records
Producer Carter Burwell
Singles from Psycho III
  1. "Scream of Love"
    Released: July 1986

All tracks written by Carter Burwell, except where noted [1].

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Scream of Love (Theme Song From the Motion Picture Psycho III)" Carter Burwell/David Sanborn/Steve Bray 3:47
2. "Maureen in the Desert"   1:56
3. "Dirty Street" Carter Burwell/Stanton-Miranda/Steve Bray 3:37
4. "Before and After Shower"   3:36
5. "Warm as a Cry for Help"   2:20
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Length
6. "Sisters/Catherine Mary" Carter Burwell/Stanton-Miranda/Steve Bray 4:13
7. "Mother?"   2:45
8. "Bad Boys and Body Bags"   3:53
9. "Revenge of a Thankless Child"   2:47
10. "Electroshock Waiting Room"   1:45

Carter Burwell was approached by Perkins to compose the score to the film, since Perkins had enjoyed Burwell's work on Blood Simple. Perkins stated that he wanted to take the score in a more contemporary direction than Jerry Goldsmith had for his more traditional score for Psycho II. Burwell flew to Los Angeles and recorded the score largely on a Synclavier electronic music station, augmented by women's and boys' choirs as well as percussion by Steve Forman.[2]

After Universal suggested the film contain some pop songs so that the film could be marketable to the MTV generation, Burwell composed and performed songs with colleagues Stanton Miranda and Steve Bray. After Universal claimed the songs weren't sufficiently bankable, Burwell attempted to create a song with Oingo Boingo frontman and then burgeoning film composer Danny Elfman, using sampled strings from Bernard Herrmann's score to the original Psycho. This idea was also rejected.[3]

Universal finally agreed to let Burwell take a motif from the score he'd composed and develop it into an instrumental electronic pop song. The song, "Scream of Love"--co-written by jazz saxophonist David Sanborn--was released as a 7" single and a series of dance remixes were commissioned from Arthur Baker and featured on the 12" version. MCA also commissioned a music video for the song featuring Burwell, Perkins and a "Hitchcockian woman." Perkins introduced the video on MTV as a guest VJ on July 2, 1986.[4] The rest of the songs composed by Burwell, Miranda and Bray were used as background music in the film, playing from car stereos and jukeboxes.


When the film opened on July 2, 1986, it earned $3.2 million in its opening weekend and went on to gross about $14.5 million at the domestic box office, becoming the lowest grossing theatrical film of the Psycho movie series.[5]

DVD Release[edit]

Psycho III has been released four times on DVD. The initial release came in 1999 when Universal Studios leased the film out to GoodTimes Home Video.[6] This release is currently out of print. The second release came in 2005 from Universal Studios itself.[7] The third release came in 2007 as part of a triple feature package with Psycho II and Psycho IV: The Beginning.[8] On September 24, 2013, Shout Factory released a Special Edition on DVD and Blu-ray.[9]

Critical response[edit]

the film currently holds a 58% approval rating based on 19 reviews on the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes


External links[edit]