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Bates Motel
Bates Motel (1987).jpg
Title: Bates Motel
Directed by: Richard Rothstein
Written by: Richard Rothstein
Produced by: Henry Kline; George Linder; Richard Rothstein; Ken Topolsky
Music by: J. Peter Robinson
Cinematography: Bill Butler
Edited by: Dann Cahn
Distributed by: Universal TV
Released: July 5th, 1987
Rating: Unrated
Running time: 90 min.
Country: USA
Language: English
Previous: Psycho III (1986)
Next: Psycho IV: The Beginning (1990)

Bates Motel is an American television horror film of the pscyho-thriller and supernatural thriller subgenres. It is based on the Psycho film series created by author Robert Bloch and filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock back in 1960. The Bates Motel was originally intended as a pilot for a potential horror anthology series (ala Freddy's Nightmares and Friday the 13th: The Series, but after receiving strong negative reviews and criticism following it's broadcast, Universal TV decided to cancel the project. Bates Motel was written and directed by Richard Rothstein. It aired on NBC on July 5th, 1987.

Plot[edit | edit source]

Young Alex West is a man with a troubled and somber past. When he was six-years-old he lived with an abusive stepfather who owned a dry cleaning business. Little Alex decided that he was tired of being perpetually beaten by the man and shoved him into an industrial sized dryer, killing him. Because of this, the powers that be decided to send the child to the Dunsmore Sanitarium in Fairville, California. During his stay there, Alex befriended the infamous Arizona madman, Norman Bates. Norman more or less figured that his days were numbered and there was no way he would ever see the light of day again. He decided to take little Alex under his wing and school him in the ways of being a neat and model citizen.

Twenty-seven years later, Norman Bates passed away and left everything he owned, including his ashes, to Alex West. The inheritance included Norman's estate as well ast he family business, the Bates Motel. Shortly thereafter, the staff at Dunsmore decide that Alex is now fit to re-enter society.

Taking his first breath of fresh L.A. air, he fumbles around town trying desperately to find a way to get to the motel. He hitches a ride with a guy named Henry Watson. Upon mentioning the Bates Motel, Henry becomes agitated and begins recalling the story of Norman Bates. Henry drops Alex off at the front of the motel and the steps leading up to the main house.

Alex goes into the house to find it still furnished (including stuffed bird decor) and that the power is up and running. Rather than stay in the house proper, Alex decides he wants to spend the night in the infamous Room #1. As soon as he beds down, a light turns on inside the upstairs bedroom window of the main house. What is staring out from beyond the glow of the light is a six-foot yellow chicken.

The following day, Alex goes to the bank. He meets with loan officer Tom Fuller and explains that he wants to acquire some money so he can fix up the motel and turn it into a respectable place. Tom is a greedy opportunist, and he mistakenly believes that Alex is a developer who is going to raze the whole place and erect a string of condos. Tom pretends to fall in line with Alex's objectives and approves the loan. Feeling content, Alex rushes back to the motel, but the big yellow chicken is lying in wait. Enter: Willie. Willie is a street smart New York girl who has come to California to entertain the hordes of fast food junkies by parading around in a chicken outfit. She is actually striving to dig herself out of a hole of homeless mediocrity in the hopes of becoming a respectable Hollywood actress. Willie takes off her costume chicken head and begins snapping and quipping about how she's such a badass even though she wears a chicken suit. Alex is fairly bedazzled by her strong presence and just sits there quivering.

Willie takes it upon herself to be Alex's business partner. Alex doesn't want anything to do with her, but he is so intimidated by her gruff demeanor that he basically acquiesces to everything she says.

Willie's influence begins almost immediately. The following day, Alex begins gathering together a crew to help him remodel the hotel. A shyster architect begins spouting off his ideas of including a spa, and a food court until Willie dismisses him. Alex ends up hiring the handyman Henry Watson - the guy who gave him a ride when he was first let out of the sanitarium. Watson is having some troubles with his own property and ends up having a standoff with a sheriff and a bulldozer, claiming that he is taking a stand for what is right and not bowing down to corporate monopolies. Alex intervenes and convinces Henry to come work for him thereby allowing the greedy corporate machine the ability to bulldoze down Henry's property.

Alex gets a work crew together. During the course of their renovations, one of the bulldozers unearths a coffin. They pry the coffin open and discover the remains of Gloria Bates, Norman Bates mother. Alex calls the police and the following day, they give the remains a proper funeral. As the priest recites a reading, Alex peers off into the distance where he believes he sees the black silhouette of Gloria Bates' ghost standing beneath an oak tree.

They later find the remains of Jake Bates - the father of Norman Bates, whose body is buried beneath the infamous neon sign. Apparently some fifty-odd years ago, Jake used to step out on his wife so he could have an affair with a local woman in one of the motel bedrooms. Gloria would watch him come and go from her rocking chair set before the big window of her bedroom looking down upon the motel property. The discovery of a second corpse begins to get the workers a little agitated. Several of them try to swear off the project, but Henry kicks them back into line.

That evening, Alex goes up to Gloria's old bedroom and looks down towards the flashing neon sign. He believes he sees Jake Bates' body lying in a pool of blood on the ground below. Alex races down there with Willie, but the body is nowhere to be found. Willie thinks that Alex is a babbling idiot. Alex begins to suspect that the Bates Motel may be haunted.

Shortly after this, Alex finally finishes all the repairs and opens the motel back up. The place looks like a dude ranch and Willie is racing around in the motel's diner cooking meatloaf. Alex is sweating however, because he needs to make the first payment of 10,000 dollars to the bank by the very next evening.

Eventually, the Bates Motel gets its first customer. It a middle-aged woman named Sally (Whose real name is Barbara Peters). Sally has been married three times and divorced three times. Realizing that her life has afforded her no joy or value, she decides to author a suicide note and then slice her wrists open while sitting in the bathtub. Before this happens however, four car loads of kids pull up and rent out the remaining room at the Bates Motel. They begin hosting a 50’s style do-wop party and Alex is pressured into serving them punch and chips. Some nameless sock hopper accidentally enters Sally's room and begins having a conversation. Sally is too polite to tell the teenage girl to leave her alone. So instead, she sits there in a bath towel while the girl babbles incoherently. The teen decides to invite Sally to the other rooms to join the party. She reluctantly agrees and meets up with a boy named Tony Scotti. Sally and Tony dance around a bit, and Tony calls her Queen of the Prom. Tony tries to kiss her, but Sally backs away citing the obvious age difference between the two. Tony gets irritated and runs outside and Sally follows after him. After which, Sally goes back to her room. Nothing really changes for Sally though. She still decides to end her own life. Just as she is ready to go through with it, the teen girl appears in the room again. Sally is freaking out because she knows for a fact that she locked the door after entering her room. She discover that the girl is actually a ghost. In fact, everyone at the motel is a ghost. They are all a bunch of kids who took their own lives back in the '50s. Apparently these wandering spirits seek out other potential suicides and try to convince them that killing themselves is a bad way to go. Sally decides that it may still be worth it to give life another shot. She doesn't kill herself, and the satisfied ghosts disappear.

Since all the motel guests (except Sally) are actually ghosts, Alex has only netted maybe thirty dollars for the entire night, which is several thousands shy of the ten grand he needs to pay out to Tom Fuller in a few hours. To make matters worse, he sees a haunting image in the window of the house belonging to the late Mrs. Bates. He races up the stairs only to be terrorized by a skeletal zombie wearing a widow's veil and wielding a knife. Alex is too terrified to move. But just as the ghost of Mrs. Bates is ready to sink a kitchen knife into Alex's skull, in rushes handyman Henry Watson. Henry tackles grandma around the corner and begins wrestling around with her. He pulls the skull mask off of her revealing the face of Tom Fuller - the evil banker. Tom has been playing up the Mrs. Bates myth in an effort to scare Alex into selling the valuable Bates property back to the bank. That way, Tom could net his own client who would promise to develop a multi-billion dollar franchise on the land. Tom is being fairly tight-lipped about the whole affair however. From out of the shadows, the dark skeletal form of the real Mrs. Bates enters the room. She attacks Tom and forces him to confess to terrorizing Alex. The second Mrs. Bates is actually Willie who has been carrying a carefully concealed mini-recorder inside her costume. Tom is forced to give Alex a reasonable payment schedule for his loan.

The Bates Motel is now officially open for business.

Cast[edit | edit source]

Notes & Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • There are several continuity changes between this film and the events of the Psycho film series, several of which are offset by the release of the 1990 TV movie Psycho IV: The Beginning. This film establishes that Norman Bates passed away in the sanitarium, whereas Psycho IV reveals that Norman is alive and well. Another major change is that of Norman's mother, who is identified as Gloria Bates in this movie. In previous films, she is identified as Norma Bates.

Recommendations[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

External Links[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

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Film Series
This article relates to the films within the Psycho film franchise. This template will categorize articles that include it into the Psycho films category.
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