PSYCHO IV: THE BEGINNING (1990) Reviews and overview

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Psycho IV: The Beginning is a 1990 American made-for-television psychological horror film directed by Mick Garris (Sleepwalkers; The Stand; Bag of Bones)  from a screenplay written by Joseph Stefano, who also wrote the screenplay of the original Psycho (1960).

The musical score was composed by Graeme Revell and the title theme music by Bernard Herrmann from the original film was used.

The film serves as both the third sequel and a prequel to Alfred Hitchcock’s groundbreaking movie as it includes both events after Psycho III while focusing on flashbacks of events that took place prior to the original film.


Anthony Perkins wanted Noel Black, who directed him in Pretty Poison, to direct the film, and he even came up with a pitch for the film along with Psycho III’s screenwriter, Charles Edward Pogue (The Hound of the Baskervilles; The Fly). Unfortunately, Psycho III was a critical and financial disappointment, so Universal rejected this idea and Mick Garris was brought in.

Meanwhile, Joseph Stefano, the screenwriter of the original film, was commissioned to write the fourth film. He had disliked the two films between I and IV, feeling that they were too commercial and catered to the conventions of slasher movies. In an interview, Stefano stated, “Gearing up for Psycho IV, I decided to ignore the two sequels – like the business in II about Norman’s mother.” The events of the earlier and little-seen 1987 TV pilot Bates Motel – in which Norman dies – are also ignored in Psycho IV.

Shout! Factory, under their Scream Factory logo, released Psycho IV: The Beginning on Blu-ray on August 23, 2016.


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The movie stars Anthony Perkins (How Awful About Allan) reprised the role of Norman Bates alongside co-stars Henry Thomas (Dead Birds; Don’t Look Up; Ouija 2), Olivia Hussey (Black Christmas; It; Ice Cream Man), CCH Pounder (End of Days) and Warren Frost.



Norman Bates is released from the mental hospital, after having been re-incarcerated at the end of Psycho III; after spending several years there, he is judged rehabilitated again. Norman is now married to a young psychiatrist named Connie and is expecting a child. Norman secretly fears that the child will inherit his mental illness, so he must seek closure once and for all.

Radio talk show host Fran Ambrose is discussing the topic of matricide with her guest Doctor Richmond, Norman’s former psychologist. Norman calls the show, using the alias “Ed”, to tell his story.

Norman’s narrative is seen as a series of flashbacks set in the 1940s and 1950s, some slightly out of order. When Norman is six years old, his father dies, leaving him in the care of his mother, Norma.

Over the years, Norma (who is implied to suffer from schizophrenia and borderline personality disorder) dominates her son, teaching him that copulation is sinful and dressing him in girl’s clothes…


“This prequel adopts a slick 90s aesthetic, like Forrest Gump via Stephen King—fitting as Mick Garris, King’s principal adaptor, holds the reins. With larger-than-life symbols, he fuses Gothically Oedipal melodrama with the Joan Crawford mythos; oh, and there’s an occasional slasher sequence, too.” The L Magazine

“This is a great performance, and he’s matched an equally good Olivia Hussey. She’s doing a crazy woman, sometimes soft as an angel and seconds later like the devil! But it feels realistic and not at all over the top. This is a good tv-movie, way better than its reputation, and continues the tradition of great acting in the series.” Ninja Dixon


” … a bit of a mixed bag. Some moments are authentically involving and well-vetted, and others feel like filler.  In the final analysis, the TV-movie ends the saga respectably (until the 1998 reboot, anyway…), provides a last hurrah for Anthony Perkins, and is quite affecting in its charting of the heretofore unseen Norma/Norman relationship.” Reflections on Films and Television

“The TV production values are fine, but the script is slack and the film becomes quite boring after an hour or so, with an especially drawn-out ending. Perkins is dependable as ever, with a fine performance from Henry Thomas as his younger self, and Hussey an intriguing choice for the unhinged Norma, which is quite overwrought, but at least not dull.” Vegan Voorhees


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