(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.)