BATES MOTEL (1987)

(DVD) This isn’t the recently completed BATES MOTEL TV series, but a made-for-TV film that was shot in-between PSYCHO III and PSYCHO IV: THE BEGINNING (which was actually shot after BATES MOTEL).

This isn’t a great film but an interesting curio. (Granted, one could say that about -all- of the sequels.) It’s worth noting that Anthony Perkins doesn’t appear in it; instead, Kurt Paul — Perkins’ stunt double in the prior Psycho films — portrays him. BATES MOTEL takes place after PSYCHO (ignoring PSYCHO II and III) and features Alex West (Bud Cort) who killed his step-father as a youth and was then thrown into the same asylum as Norman Bates. Bates befriended Alex and, upon dying, bequeathed him his hotel. Alex, along with the assistance of Willie (Lori Petty) a plucky young woman, fix up the hotel while fending off fears that the place is haunted by Mrs. Bates.

Meanwhile — and slightly jarringly inserted — a woman (Kerrie Keane) checks into the hotel, as — feeling old, alone and unloved after a recent divorce — plans on killing herself. As she’s about to do so, she’s is interrupted by a teen girl (Khrystyne Haje) who invites her to an after-prom party where she woos a young Jason Bateman and realizes there’s still some life in her bones after all. Then — hardly a spoiler, as it’s telegraphed from the get-go but letting you know just in case — it’s revealed that the teen killed herself in the very same room years ago.

If you read the above and thought: ‘Hey, that sounds like a story I’d see in a 80s TV anthology!’ you can pat yourself on the back. BATES MOTEL was a feature film masquerading as a TV pilot, where each week would tell the dovetailing tales of troubled hotel guests. While BATES MOTEL takes far too much time getting the hotel in Alex’s hands — including a lot of padding involving him simply trying to locate the hotel — and it is far too enamored with the Scooby Doo-ish pratfalls that occur afterwards, the B-story is satisfying enough that I wish they’d moved forward with the show. Obviously, they didn’t and we only have this TV film to show for it.

(Then again, I also unabashed love the TV anthology series FRIDAY THE 13: THE SERIES, which similarly has little to do with its namesake.)

FINAL DESTINATION 5 (2011)

(HBO MAX/VOD) Holy hell, I finally finished watching this franchise! For whatever reason, it took me years to finally get around to watching the last film but I’m glad I did. I should have seen that end coming but, delightfully, I did not. FINAL DESTINATION 5 is a fine return to form after the lackluster FINAL DESTINATION 3 and the abysmal THE FINAL DESTINATION, featuring some fantastic set pieces and adds some nuance to the characters that’s often lacking with the franchise.

Allegedly, a new film — not a reboot — is in development, which is a bit of a shame considering how explosive FINAL DESTINATION 5 ends, but then again it didn’t seem like a fifth film was necessary either.

AMERICAN PSYCHO II: ALL AMERICAN GIRL (2002)

(fubo/VOD) Yes, this is a direct-to-DVD sequel to the classic Mary Harron adaptation. Yes, it has little-to-nothing to do with the American excess/toxic masculinity of original film. Yes, it features pre-BLACK SWAN Mila Kunis as well as an unlikely William Shatner playing a teacher that students swoon over. Yes, it’s cheap, trashy — 11% on Rotten Tomatoes, just so you know what you’re getting into — and tries to have its cake and eat it too by toeing the line between earnest satirical genre work and self-aware camp. That doesn’t mean that it is not a whole lot of fun, especially the last third of the film.