Amidst this was Bates Motel, which must surely be one of the most bizarre concepts in spinoff television since Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligans Island (1981). The reasoning behind the making of Bates Motel appeared to be that the Bates house was a fixture on the Universal backlot and someone had the bright idea that a weekly tv series could be spun off around it. Bud Cort was cast to replace Anthony Perkins the pilots continuity is very different to the movie sequels in having Norman dying while in institutional custody and transferring the deed to the Bates Motel to Bud Corts Alex West. The pilot never sold and the idea of a Bates Motel tv series thankfully died a merciful death.
As Anthony Perkins replacement, we have Bud Cort, who will always be remembered as the weird teenager in the cult classic black comedy Harold and Maude (1971) one of this authors favourite films who has the seeming ability to still look boyish even into his fifties. Bud Cort has a mousy nervousness where you could easily imagine him being a potential alternate casting choice for the Norman Bates role in Psycho and as such he is well suited as Anthony Perkins stand-in. One of the pluses of the film is the always worthwhile Lori Petty whose motor-mouthed New York accent gives the film some spirit that lights the show up.
However, Bates Motel is almost entirely killed by Richard Rothsteins direction, which is filled with lame, heavy-handed scare-driving tactics. It is hard to imagine a film that is further away from the spirit and style of Alfred Hitchcock if you tried. Particularly clumsily handled is the ridiculous scene where a bulldozer ends up being electrocuted. Bernard Herrmanns classic and much copied score for the original has been substituted with a banal soundtrack of canned thriller cues. There are also continuity errors such as having the body of Mrs Bates dug up on the grounds of the motel, leaving one with the question of just whose mummified corpse it was in the cellar at the climax of Psycho. Bates Motel becomes completely bizarre during the last half-hour where it turns into a haunted house story of sorts about undead rocknrollers come back to warn a suicidal divorcee not to kill herself. Not to mention a plot that becomes completely ridiculous when it gets to two different people running around pretending to be the ghost of Mrs Bates. In the famous last words category, the film ends with Bud Cort turning and addressing the camera directly: I think with a little luck were going to do okay here. I think Norman wouldve liked that.
Director/writer Richard Rothstein has had a number of other brushes with the genre, including as writer of films like Human Experiments (1979), Death Valley (1982), the tv movie Invitation to Hell (1984) and the high-profile action film Universal Soldier (1992). To date, Richard Rothstein has not had any other chance to direct.
Full film available online here:-