Bates Motel is a belated 1987 television movie spin-off of the 1960 suspense/horror film Psycho scripted and directed by Richard Rothstein (Human Experiments; Death Valley) The film was originally produced as a pilot for a TV series based around the Bates Motel; however, it was never picked up by any network.
Norman Bates is portrayed by Kurt Paul, who previously stood in as a stunt double for Anthony Perkins in Psycho II and Psycho III. Perkins declined involvement in the project and even heavily boycotted it. The film was subsequently released on VHS in various territories, including the UK.
Alex West (Bud Cort) roomed with and became close friends with Norman Bates at the state lunatic asylum for nearly twenty years. After Bates’ death, Alex finds that he is named in Norman’s will as the inheritor of the Bates Motel, which has been vacant since Norman’s arrest.
Alex travels to Bates’ California hometown (which this film has inexplicably renamed Fairville from the original film’s Fairvale) and with a little help from teenage runaway Willie (Lori Petty) and local handyman Henry Watson (Moses Gunn), Alex struggles to re-open the motel for business, only to have strange things happen.
‘It barely feels like a Psycho film and instead plays out like an inspirational story of how one can successfully renovate and reopen an establishment whose previous owner was a maniac. The tone is ultra-cheesy and sappy, with tender moments often accompanied by soft piano music that felt like it was ripped from an after-school special.’ Brett Gallman, Oh, The Horror!
‘Sincerely, this is a horrible, horrible movie that doesn’t even deserve to be aired on midnight television. It doesn’t even deserve to be called campy — you have to earn that. This movie does not deserve to exist; it is lazy, stupid, and an insult to the brand of Psycho.” Charles Beall, Anti-Film School