When a horror film reaches a certain level of success or critical acclaim, people will try to argue about just how much of a horror film it isn’t. Such is the case with movies like Silence of the Lambs, or, in one of the subjects of this article, Psycho, which is such a classic that it couldn’t possibly be in the same genre as Silent Night Deadly Night 3 and Hostel 3.
That’s why I can foresee Psycho fans becoming extremely pissed about the teasers released for the upcoming A&E series, Bates Motel, because it looks very “horror-ey.”
It goes without saying that there’s no real way to justify Bates Motel being created, unless the justification is incredible. I could be wrong, but I doubt that the producers suddenly came up with some extraordinary reason to extend the Psycho franchise into the future. Psycho has a bit of backstory to it, but all of the necessary backstory is covered pretty well in Psycho. I’ve never watched Psycho and thought to myself “Wait a second. There needs to be WAY more of the actual mother in this!” I don’t think any other Psycho fans have either. It doesn’t need a hell of a lot of explanation, and the more explanation it gives, the more the mystique of Norman Bates is going to be ruined.
The amount of history that is given to Norman in the first film is enough. He remains a scary, somewhat pitiable character and also remains a bit of a mystery. Sure, his “illness” is explained in detail by a doctor, in what is the Psycho”s worst scene, but it leaves room for intrigue and questions. Bates Motel has a ten episode first season so, barring early cancellation, we’re going to get a ten hour dramatized version of the most boring scene in Psycho.
50% of all horror films released today are based around someone being chained to something. The other 50% involve incidents being accidentally caught on camera, and since making a Psycho TV show that is filmed from the first person is the literal definition of both the words “stupid” and “insanity,” the creators of Bates Motel decided to go with the route of the former half.
Here are both teasers, one after the other. Thanks, internet!
The first teaser shows a slow pan over to a pair of hands chained up under a sink. Everything looks unnecessarily damp, which is how the swamp set in the original Psycho looked, and also how all of most horror films shot today look, as if the set decorator forgot to turn off the sprinklers. The sink is appropriately dirty, and the teaser ends showing someone’s wrists handcuffed to a pipe below the aforementioned sink.
The second teaser is an idyllic lake in the evening, and another pan – this time leading viewers to a pair of legs hanging in the air, presumably attached to a body, burning. Now, I know that later Psycho sequels became more of what are popularly known as “slasher films,” but the number of people who saw Psycho 3 is the exact same amount as the number of people who wrote this article times four. We’re not really a demographic.
I can foresee the displeasure with these clips because handcuffed wrists in a dark cellar, which, considering that everyone who’s seen the teaser has also seen at least one movie, invokes the mental image of torture, something the original Psycho isn’t well known for. The burning body hoisted in the air is an elaborate kill, something also not really noted as being a part of the Psycho legacy. The original Psycho had one method in both of it’s deaths: Stab repeatedly. It’s simple and effective, but, in an age where The Walking Dead is the number one horror related thing in the medium, one butcher knife isn’t going to cut it for a horror-based TV show.
And thus presents the main problem for Bates Motel. It’s going to have to satisfy viewers who go to it expecting a dark, bloody drama, as well as Psycho fans who would like nothing more than to dig up Anthony Perkin’s corpse so that he can perform monologues in their living room. Combine this with the fact that Norman Bates is played by a teenager (and unless they’re Vorhees’ food, horror fans hate teenagers. They instinctively relate them to things like The Vampire Diaries), and you have a show that is bound to displease.
Bates Motel is a series meant to capitalize on a film that was best left standing alone. Unless it pulls out something amazing and creates the most tense piece of television we’ve ever seen, it’s going to disappoint. Audiences are primed to expect a body count from what the teaser presents, and fans of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho will probably not be able to get behind this. It’s not really anyone’s fault, but it just isn’t a good idea.