Bates Motel

Bates Motel. Richard Rothstein. 1987.

Oh, I forgot to watch this in when watching the other Psycho movies.

Hm… this is a made for TV movie?

Uh-oh:

[fifteen minutes pass]

This is a pretty odd movie: It’s a comedy (I think?), but the gags would seem stale to a three-year-old, and the rest is kinda creepy.

[half an hour passes]

It’s a strange approach to the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope: This one is really needy, but she does goad the protagonist into doing things, so I guess it’s not that odd.

[twenty minutes pass]

Actually, I don’t hate this. It’s a cheerily inept, unassuming little movie. All the performances are bad, but they’re not really trying to be good, either, so that makes it better. The set design is rather impressive for a movie with this kind of budget, but sometimes it’s more obvious that it’s all plywood and Styrofoam (and scale models) than at other times.

I mean… how can you not like that shot of the guy putting up er spackle up there? That’s the level of proficiency this movie is aiming for.

I feel like this could be a cult classic if only people had seen it, but it’s apparently never gotten wide distribution? (It was included as an unannounced extra on the Psycho box set.)

[ten minutes pass]

OK, now I changed my mind again. This is pretty excruciating.

“Look at my face… my lines…”

*gaze*

OH MY GOD WHAT A HAG.

(Yes, that’s the actual line from that scene.)

[the end]

I liked the ending.

It’s a very confusing movie, but it’s got all the ingredients for a successful, silly riff on Psycho? And I’m totally up for that. But it flubs it seriously in the last third of the movie: It makes sense, plot-wise, but it’s just so boring.

And the twist ending was always obvious, even if I appreciate both the sentiment and the actual reveal.

So… Don’t watch this, probably? But it has its charms, if you’re willing to look for them.

Psycho

Psycho (No The Other One). Gus van Sant. 1998.

I’m guessing this is the most controversial movie ever made? A couple of days ago a character in some TV show was describing his girlfriend as “she preferred the new version of Psycho”, and that summed up her character as the lowest of the low.

So I’m all excited to watch this movie again: I betcha it’s better than the Hitchcock movie.

[twenty five minutes pass]

I’m really digging that Van Sant is making a facsimile of the original movie? At least I think he is? Only in a different aspect ration, with different actors and in colour. It’s asking the question: If we made the that old classic today, in the same way, would it be as good?

It’s a dare, and I vaguely remember movie critics at the time being really het up about it. They don’t like being challenged.

Because, of course, the answer is “no”. But it’s still really entertaining to watch.

I have to admit being really, really shocked when Norman Bates came running down the stairs to open Janet Leigh’s car door, I mean Anne Heche, and… IT”S NOT ANTHONY PERKINS.

That was jarring.

Vince Vaughn?!

[the end]

Watching this, I’ve been reminded, somehow, that I’ve seen this before… probably in the 90s? On rental DVD? And I vaguely remember liking this then.

This time over, I… I like the idea, because it’s just such a dare. But the movie itself lacks nerve. Vince Vaughn just isn’t scary like Perkins is, and that deflates everything. And whatsisname that plays the detective just doesn’t quite work. The rest of the actors are fine, I think, but it’s still a lot to ask.

So after… three quarters of an hour? I just grew bored with the entire thing.

I’m watching the documentary now, which is amazingly critical towards the movie. I assumed that the studio wanted Van Sant to make a traditional remake of Psycho, and then he fucked with them by making this instead. But no — this was a project he’d suggested to them for years, and they always said no. Until he’d made Good Will Hunting, and then finally allowed him to make the Psycho remake.

Psycho IV: The Beginning

Psycho IV. Mick Garris. 1990.

Oh, the soundtrack is by Graeme Revell? I’ve got a couple of SPK albums… they’re… uhm… well, I don’t listen to them a lot.

Still, perhaps that means that the soundtrack isn’t the same boring stuff as usual.

[half an hour passes]

Well, the soundtracks seems… OK? Not very special: The normal dramatic violins all over the place. (And violas.)

The structure of this movie is pretty interesting: It’s based around a radio talk show, and Norman Bates calls in and spills all the beans to CCH Pounder, the host of the show. So we get the backstory told in flashbacks, and we’re wondering how this is going to tie up to the present (because it really has to): Is the psycho CCH Pounder has in the studio going to turn violent and kill the psychiatric experts? Is Norman just killing time until he’s gonna stab somebody? What?

So it’s a good idea, I think, but… it’s pretty boring. The guy who plays Young Norman is OK, but the things that happen to him are pretty tedious.

Spoiler: It turns out to be the mother’s fault.

[forty-five minutes pass]

So this movie is just an excuse for watching Young Norman inexpertly kill a bunch of women at length? I’d worry about Mick Garris after watching this.

[the end]

OK, this is really a movie, but it’s a modest made-for-video movie, and you have to give these things some leeway. For what it is, it’s not as bad as it could be. CCH Pounder is good, and so is Perkins, and … it’s not a good movie by a long shot, but it certainly could have been worse.