Psycho (a 1960 horror-thriller, directed by Alfred Hitchcock, in case anyone was unaware) is one of my favourite movies, so when I learned of the TV series Bates Motel earlier this year, I was naturally interested, and initially disappointed that there was no news of UK airing. But disappointment soon turned to relief – perhaps it’s best to leave that masterpiece alone, rather than “reimagine” it.
Now the series has arrived here, I have mixed feelings – I love the idea and I hate the idea. Really, I’m torn, like a shower curtain that got in the way of an angry knife-wielding mother.
Bates Motel, which airs on Universal Channel in the UK from September, is a prequel to the 1960 horror classic, but updated to the present day and moved north to Oregon from the original movie’s Californian setting.
Those changes alone make me as uneasy as a lonely traveller, just checked in and hearing Norman and his mother arguing, and I have to wonder what the great Hitchcock would make of it all. Well, I suspect he’d happily put his name to it. He was a great artist, for sure, but often seemed willing to be associated with less artistic endeavours. (If you’re as old as me, you may remember Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators series of kids’ detective stories).
There was a string of sequels after Hitchock’s death – Psycho II (1983), Psycho III (1986) and Psycho IV: The Beginning (1990), and a near shot-by-shot remake, Psycho (1998), directed by Gus Van Sant, and starring Vince Vaughn as Norman Bates, the role created by Anthony Perkins in the original and the sequels. (Nerdy note: Perkins also directed Psycho III.)
These are fairly well-known films, but it was only when doing my surface digging to confirm some dates for this post, that I came across something else – an earlier Bates Motel. This 1987 TV movie starred Bud Cort (you know him – Harold and Maude, and another of my favourites Brewster McCloud) as Alex West, Norman Bates’ ex-roomie in the “lunatic asylum” (as we charmingly used to call such institutions back then).
In this version of the Psychoverse, Norman has died and left the motel to his chum, Alex, who aims to reopen it for business. I imagine, with less-than-hilarious consequences. Intended as a pilot for a TV series, that never happened, the film has remained a stand-alone curiosity. I’d certainly be curious to see it anyway. Perhaps I’d be standing alone in doing so, but here’s a trailer for it.
A final movie to mention is Hitchcock (2012), which offers an account of the making of Psycho, and stars Anthony Hopkins as the great man.
Which brings us up to date, and 2013’s Bates Motel TV series. Will you be watching? I’ll prepare some milk and sandwiches just in case.
Also, there’s my previous post on Cardiff’s greatest star.