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Psycho III

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Title: Psycho III  
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Subject: The Psycho Legacy, Psycho II (film), Emma Spool, Marion Crane, Norman Bates
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Psycho III

Psycho III
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Anthony Perkins
Produced by Hilton A. Green
Written by Charles Edward Pogue
Starring Anthony Perkins
Diana Scarwid
Jeff Fahey
Roberta Maxwell
Music by Carter Burwell
Cinematography Bruce Surtees
Edited by David Blewitt
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release dates
  • July 2, 1986 (1986-07-02)
Running time 92 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $14,482,000

Psycho III is an American 1986 horror/slasher film. It is the second sequel to Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho and the third film in the Psycho series. The film stars Anthony Perkins (who also directed the film), 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 TV movie, Psycho IV: The Beginning.

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


Norman Bates still mans the desk 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. Maureen Coyle, a mentally unstable young nun, is a long-term tenant at the Bates Motel.

Tracy Venable, a pushy journalist from Los Angeles, is working on an article about serial killers being put back on the streets. She is trying to support a theory that Norman is back to his old ways, so when Norman appears at the diner, Tracy jumps at the chance to talk with him. Unaware of her ulterior motives, Norman opens up to her but is distracted when Maureen enters. He is startled because she strongly resembles his long-ago victim, Marion Crane. Seeing the initials "M.C." on her suitcase, Norman panics and leaves the diner.

After a conversation with "Mother", Norman spies on Maureen as she undresses to take a shower. Keeping her word, "Mother" enters Maureen's room. Upon pulling back the shower curtain, it is revealed Maureen has attempted suicide by cutting her wrists, a sight which snaps Norman back to his "normal" side. Due to blood loss, Maureen hallucinates. She mistakes Norman, dressed up as "Mother", for the Virgin Mary holding a silver crucifix.

Norman gets Maureen to the hospital. After she is released, he invites her to stay back at the motel and they begin a romantic relationship.

Duane picks up a girl called "Red" at a bar. They head to Bates Cabin 12 and have sex. Red makes it clear she wants more than just a fling and calls him a pig when he refuses. Duane, infuriated, throws her out. Red tries to call a cab, but "Mother" shatters the phone booth door and stabs Red to death.

Tourists arrive at the motel, where they plan to watch a local football game. Norman and Maureen go to a restaurant while Tracy searches Mrs. Spool's apartment. She discovers the Bates Motel's phone number written on a magazine cover. Norman and Maureen return to the motel to find most of the other guests engaged in drunken stupor. Norman goes with Maureen to her room and they fall asleep in each other's arms.

Patsy Boyle, the only sober guest, is murdered by "Mother". Norman discovers Patsy's body and he 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. Norman tries to prevent Hunt from entering his mother's bedroom, when he discovers that "Mother"/Mrs. Spool has disappeared.

Tracy tells Maureen all about Norman's past. This causes Maureen to leave the motel and go stay with Father Brian, who took care of her at the hospital. Norman searches for his mother all over the house and finds a note from her stating that she is in Cabin 12. There he learns it was Duane who took "Mother"/Mrs. Spool.

Duane demands a large sum of money to keep quiet or else he will turn Norman over to the police for the murders. Norman appears to give in, but unexpectedly throws an ashtray at Duane's head. They fight and Norman hits Duane several times with his own guitar.

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 once been institutionalized for murder.

Norman drives Duane's car to the swamp with Duane and Patsy's bodies in it. Duane, still alive, regains consciousness and attacks Norman, who accidentally drives into the swamp. He struggles out of the car while Duane drowns.

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, which startles him. He loses his grip on Maureen's hands. She falls down the stairs into the cupid statue, which impales her skull. Norman screams and promises "Mother" that he will get her for this.

Tracy arrives. She enters the house and finds Maureen dead. Then she sees Norman dressed as "Mother," bearing a knife, but is unable to flee. She tries to reason 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, instead. Mrs. Spool then kidnapped Norman when he was a baby, after she killed Mr. Bates, believing Norman was the child "she should have had with him". When she got 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 brutally attacks "Mother" instead, dismembering Mrs. Spool's preserved remains.

Sheriff Hunt takes Norman to his squad car, with Father Brian and Tracy following behind. Hunt informs Norman that they may never let him out of the institution again, Norman replies: "But I'll be free...I'll finally be free."

Norman, sitting silently in the back of the squad car, caresses a trophy: the severed hand of Mrs. Spool.



There were many songs recorded for Psycho III, some of them were performed by Stanton Miranda. Carter Burwell composed the main soundtrack and also some songs that play on the jukebox in the diner and on the radios in cars. The soundtrack for Psycho III was originally released on MCA Records.

The song "Scream of Love" was released as a single on vinyl only. The dance remixes by Arthur Baker was featured on the 12" vinyl. MCA commissioned a music video featuring Carter Burwell, Anthony Perkins and a Hitchcockian woman. Perkins presented the video on MTV as a guest VJ.


When the film opened on July 4, 1986, it earned $3,238,400 in its opening weekend and went on to gross about $14,481,606 million at the domestic box office, becoming the lowest grossing theatrical film of the Psycho movie series.[1]

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.[2] This release is currently out of print. The second release came in 2005 from Universal Studios itself.[3] The third release came in 2007 as part of a triple feature package with Psycho II and Psycho IV: The Beginning.[4] On September 24, 2013, Shout Factory released a Special Edition on DVD and Blu-ray.[5]


Roger Ebert gave the film three out of four stars, stating: "Any movie named 'Psycho III' is going to be compared to the Hitchcock original, but Perkins isn't an imitator. He has his own agenda. He has lived with Norman Bates all these years, and he has some ideas about him, and although the movie doesn't apologize for Norman, it does pity him. For the first time, I was able to see that the true horror in the "Psycho" movies isn't what Norman does — but the fact that he is compelled to do it".

Vincent Canby of The New York Times wrote: "It has a cast of talented, self-effacing actors, who don't upstage the material, and an efficient screenplay by Charles Edward Pogue, who doesn't beat you over the head to prove that he has a sense of humor." Ken Hanke of Mountain Xpress called the film a "superior horror sequel stylishly made by star Anthony Perkins".

Dave Kehr of The Chicago Reader wrote: "Perkins tries to imitate Hitchcock's visual style, but most of the film is made without concern for style of any kind, unless it's the bludgeoning nonstyle of Friday the 13th." Variety called the film "dependent almost entirely upon self-referential incidents and attitudes for its effect, and it eventually becomes wearying".


  1. ^ "Psycho III". Retrieved 2011-04-17. 
  2. ^ "Psycho III (DVD)". Retrieved 2011-04-17. 
  3. ^ "Psycho III (DVD)". Retrieved 2011-04-17. 
  4. ^ "Psycho II / Psycho III / Psycho IV: The Beginning (Triple Feature)". Retrieved 2011-04-17. 
  5. ^ [1]

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