Bates Motel (1987)

TV Movie   |  TV-PG   |    |  Comedy, Drama, Horror

Bates Motel (1987) Poster

A mentally disturbed man, who roomed with the late Norman Bates at the state lunatic asylum, inherits the legendary Bates Motel after the death of Norman and tries to fix it up to make it a respectable business.


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13 May 2002 | TelevisionJunkie
Thank God Sci-Fi is airing this...
I've been getting bugged for years for copies of this film -- since it hardly ever got played after it bombed on TV back in '87. As a piece of Psycho history, I taped it in '87 and foolishly let people know that I had a copy.... I'm so glad Sci-fi is airing it so I don't have to sit through it anymore. Made as a potential pilot for an anthology series, the movie flopped badly and a show never materialized. Anthony Perkins (Norman Bates himself) boycotted the production. Not that he really needed to, since the public hated it as much as he did....

I'd like to say this film is awful. But I can't really say that, since I've seen so much worse. But as an attachment to the Psycho films, it IS awful. It ignores the two sequels that had been made and even makes mistakes based on information from the original. Bud Cort gives a mind-numbingly dumb performance as the friend of Norman's who inherits the motel after his death. You never really have sympathy for him 'cause he just plays it so dumb. Lori Petti, who I usually love, is rather annoying as the squatter that befriends him. She does an okay job with her part, but the problem is that all the main parts were poorly written. We get more than half of the way through the movie, focusing on Cort and Petti trying to get the motel running again, and then we enter the first of the Twilight-Zone-ish stories: a woman who wants to kill herself is befriended by some strange teens. The writing and acting in this segment isn't bad, but after sitting through the Cort/Petti story, it hardly seems worth it.

There's really only one creepy segment in the film -- the presence of the woman in black at Mrs. Bates funeral (but the discovery of her corpse is nonsense, since they found her body in the basement in the original film). The whole Jake Bates story seemed like it was jammed in so they could add a few more scares, though the scares fell flat. And the black-and-white segment at the film's climax could have been great -- if they hadn't went the Scooby-Doo unmask-the-villain route -- but as another reviewer wrote, it seemed to be the inspiration for "Scream 3" (which I love, by the way).

Though the film is a piece of Psycho history, I wouldn't really recommend it to anyone, except maybe fans of the actors -- even then it wouldn't get a strong recommendation....

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