AWESOME-tober-fest 2012: Bates Motel TV movie (1987)
In 1987, Universal commissioned a 2 hour television movie called Bates Motel as a spin-off of Psycho.
The TV movie was also a “backdoor pilot” for a possible television series. However, the ratings were so low that Universal scrapped the idea of the ongoing TV series.
The plot of the movie was about a mentally disturbed youth, Alex West, who is committed to an asylum for murdering his step father. While inside, Alex befriends a rehabilitated Norman Bates. They remain friends for 20 years and after Bates’ death, Alex discovers that he has inherited Bates Motel, which has been vacant since Bates’ arrest many, many years ago. With the help of a teenage runaway, Willie, Alex attempts to reopen the Motel. Shortly before opening, the occupants experience several strange occurances which leads Alex to wonder if the hotel is haunted by Norma Bates.
The show starred Bud Cort as the adult Alex West. It also starred Lori Petty as the teen runaway, Willie. Other stars include Jason Bateman and Robert Picardo. Anthony Perkins did not return to play Norman Bates for this movie. Bates was instead played by Kurt Paul who was Perkins’ stunt double in Psycho II, Psycho III and Psycho IV.
Perkins was upset with this series as it interferred with the timeline of Perkins’ Psycho III movie from the previous year. Psycho III was about Bates after he was released from the asylum while the TV series said Bates died while still inside.
Like I said, the show received dismal ratings and was scrapped. However, Universal recently announced that they have changed their minds. There will be a brand new TV series called Bates Motel. It will star Vera Farmiga as Norma Bates and feature the formative years of a young Norman Bates and how his mother shaped and molded Norman into the man he would become in Hitchcock’s classic movie. This TV series is coming due to Universal’s happiness with the big screen movie Hitchcock starring Sir Anthony Hopkins as the titular director. The movie is about all the behind the scenes machinations in getting Psycho made back in 1960. I personally am looking forward to both of these projects.
The 1987 Bates Motel movie was never officially released on DVD in the US. But you can watch the show in it’s entirety on YouTube.
Here are the first three parts (of ten) of Bates Motel:
Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.