Monday, September 2, 2013

Working Class Zero: Bates Motel (1987)

Why work when I can watch shit like this?  Today's film is Bates Motel, a movie that I'm viewing for very silly reasons.  For one, I watched *part* of a long time ago, so I was kind of curious how it turned out.  Another thing is that since watching it, I've seen (and now own) all of the Sequels to Psycho.  Lastly, both Maynard and Bob have now reviewed it.  I can't let them hold that over my head.  So what is Bates Motel?  Well, here's the simplest version: it's a TV Pilot turned Movie that has basically been written out of Continuity.  Basically, Anthony Perkins came back to the Series for Psycho II and actually Directed Psycho III.  Unfortunately, that film was a financial disaster for the Studio, so they decided to go a different direction.  Seeing it as a cheaper alternative, they decided to try and make a TV Show.  Since Anthony Perkins was a no-go, they made one without him.  Unfortunately, the Pilot didn't sell and they just aired it as a Movie.  When that did badly, they decided to make a TV Movie...which sucked.  Things get even more complicated as Joseph Stefano- the Writer of the original Psycho- wrote the final film and chose to ignore the continuity of the last two films.  Bear in mind, he also wrote Snowbeast too.  In summary, nobody was ever sure what counted- for example, the whole 'I'm your real Mother' thing was gone from Psycho IV- and what didn't.  So yeah, this film has no real DVD release and the only source appears to be a worn-out VHS copy.  Given the quality of the actual film, this feels oddly-appropriate.  To see how the original story to use this title is, read on...
Some vague time in the '60s, this kid goes to an Asylum for killing his Step-Dad.  His Psychiatrist (Robert Picardo?!?) pairs him up with Norman Bates, since they're both comatose family killers.  Sure- makes sense.  Right, Bob?

Oh and this beginning is in B&W to make it be arty or some shit.  Joy.
The kid grows up to be an odd-looking adult (sorry, Bud Cort) and ends up inheriting the Bates Motel from a dead Norman.  I have a number of questions...

* Is he fit to inherit land?  Would that hold up in Court?
* How does Norman Bates still 'own' the Motel?
* Given all of the murders, how come there even is a Bates Motel?
* Lastly, who the hell is this guy with Cort- he's not Perkins!
Now released as an Adult, Cort's character goes to the oddly-maintained Motel.  This film seems to ignore Psycho II and III (since he is said to have been locked up for decades), implying that nobody has run/been in the place for 27 years!
Oh crap- another Actor I like is in this.  It's Gregg Henry, most well-known from his role in Mel Gibson's Payback.  After seeing this on Resume, I wonder who he got his own payback against?!?
Now settled in, Cort discovers a curious guest in his new Motel.  It's not the Cluckin Chicken- It's Lori Petty in a Mascot's outfit.

While some may not like her, I think she provides a nice contrast to Cort, who plays his role super low-key (which is the idea).
So Cort and Petty go about fixing up the Motel to bring in new guests (and set up the series).

Speaking of a series, this film likes to contradict more aspect of the Psycho Series by having the Mother's skeleton be discovered in the ground.  Oh and Dad's is there too, but that whole situation is too confusing to even address here.
Now here's where things get weird.  Since this is a Pilot for a show, they finally decide to do the Episode's plot...about 50 minutes in.

Basically, this depressed lady is invited to a party full of ghosts.  They were all people that committed suicide.  Freakier than the sudden ghosts is the appearance Jason Bateman!
Once the other story ends, we have to wrap-up the 'Motel paying off their loan' Plot that suddenly appeared right before the 'Suddenly Ghosts' Story.

We basically get a cross of Scream (which would come out 8 years later) and Scooby-Doo.  I was half-expecting Henry to say that he would have gotten away with it if it wasn't for you pesky kids!  He almost does.
With a business negotiation done with the threat of blackmail, all is well at the Motel.  They've had ONE guest for ONE night, but whatever.

The film ends properly with Cort inviting us to stay at the Bates Motel.  Considering it's a back-drop in Universal Studios: Orlando, I'm going to pass.  The End.
This is one Motel that I will gladly drive by.  I probably don't hate this much as a lot of people do.  In all honesty, I was just not that interested.  It took me a while to watch this movie.  I downloaded it a few days ago, but really couldn't watch it in one sitting.  Granted- I am very easily-distracted at times, but I could power through something if it was interesting.  The worst thing you can say here is that this leaves very little of an impression.  I haven't even gone two hours since watching the film and it is already fading.  I could probably accept this more if there was even a little bit of show to, well, show for it.  If there was even a paltry 6-Episode run behind it, stuff like the silly ending would make sense.  After all, it would presumably be his send-off.  As a film, it's a weird mess.  As a Pilot, it had a minor bit of promise.  While it wouldn't have been a good show, I kind of wish it had been given a shot.  After all, the new Bates Motel didn't even need to make a Pilot- it was just bought as a 10-Episode series right off the bat.  Clearly you should have been in The Golden Compass instead of Harold & Maude, Bud.  On the plus side, I got to see pointlessly-B&W Robert Picardo for a few minutes...
Next up, I cover the only Richard Kelly film I could do.  I just have one question: what's in The Box?!?!?!?  Stay tuned...

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