Bates Motel (film)

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Bates Motel
Bates motel tv guide premiere ad.jpg
Ad from TV Guide, 1987
Genre Comedy
Distributed by NBC
Directed by Richard Rothstein
Produced by George Linder
Ken Topolsky
Written by Richard Rothstein
Starring Bud Cort
Music by J. Peter Robinson
Cinematography Bill Butler
Editing by Dann Cahn
Production company Universal Television
Language English
Original channel NBC
Release date July 5, 1987
Running time 90 minutes

Bates Motel is a 1987 television movie spin-off of the 1960 suspense/horror film Psycho. The film is about Alex West, a mentally disturbed youth who was admitted to an asylum after killing his abusive stepfather. There he befriends Norman Bates and ends up inheriting the infamous Bates Motel. 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.

In early 2012, A&E announced that a new TV series titled Bates Motel was in development at the network; it was later confirmed that the show was picked up for a 10-episode first season. However, being a prequel to the film, it has nothing to do with the 1987 TV pilot.


Alex West (Bud Cort) roomed and became close friends with Norman Bates at the state lunatic asylum for nearly 20 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 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.



With the financial failure of Psycho III, Universal decided to continue the Psycho series as a television series. In this televised spin-off of Psycho, Norman Bates is portrayed by Kurt Paul, who previously stood in as a stunt double for Anthony Perkins in Psycho II and Psycho III. The film was made as a pilot for a weekly series, but the series was never picked up.[citation needed] Thus Universal decided to air the pilot as a made-for-TV film over the 4th of July weekend. The film received low Nielsen ratings and mostly negative reviews.[citation needed] For example, USA Today said, "this could be the worst thing you see on TV all year."[citation needed] Because of this, Universal decided upon developing a fourth film that would become Psycho IV: The Beginning and would be made for television.


The film debuted on NBC on July 5, 1987.[citation needed]

The film was released to DVD on October 3, 2013 as a part of Universal's "Vault Series", exclusively on[1]



Critics and fans of the Psycho theatrical film series have argued that the pilot does not fit in with the canon of the series, ignoring continuity with Psycho II, Psycho III and Psycho IV: The Beginning due to the death of Norman Bates in the film, while in Psycho II, Bates is deemed sane and returns to the Bates Motel.

Reflecting on the continuity issues, Robert Price writes "It seems that all the different Psychos drift into and out of one another. There is no real sequence. All are variant versions of the same myth. The deep conflict being rehearsed and resolved in these movies is that of the Oedipal complex".


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