31 Days of Horror Day 9: Psycho

Psycho - Poster

You know what’s scarier than monsters?  The murderer next door.  With Psycho‘s arrival in 1960 (Night of the Living Dead‘s in 1968), it was clear that the threats weren’t all coming from overseas: they were in our backyard all along.  Sure, the stranger from Transylvania seemed menacing, but the nervous, down-on-his luck momma’s boy behind the counter of the local motel was capable of evil deeds, as well.  With Psycho, we didn’t have to look across the sea to be scared anymore.  We feared our neighbors, and that was more terrifying.
One of my favorite parts of this film is the spooky house on the hill.  It conjures up images of creepy gothic castles.  We get a look of that house and say, “That’s it.  That’s the place to be scared of.”  But then the first murder occurs in a nice little motel room.  It’s a great bit of misdirection that plays with well-worn horror tropes.  Terrible things happen in that house eventually, but it’s after they established the fact that those terrible things can happen anywhere.

Psycho - House

This movie is every bit as good now as it was when it was released (I assume.  I was -20 when this was originally released).  I bought the Blu Ray a few years ago and it looks tremendous (the only movie that rivals this in Blu Ray form is Halloween).  There’s a beauty in the black and white that just wouldn’t be present if it was in color.  It’s a perfect movie, which is why a remake was such a poor idea.  This film doesn’t feel dated.  There’s nothing to improve on.  Why remake it?

"He won't stop mentioning the remake.  Make him stop."
“He won’t stop mentioning the remake. Please make him stop.”

This is an amazing film and features some all-time great performances.  Today is a grey day.  Grab yourself something to drink, curl up with a blanket and enjoy one of the best films ever made.  Just don’t plan on taking a shower afterwards.

Psycho - Shower

Why I Don’t Watch Bates Motel

With Bates Motel starting back up, Chassity and I thought it would be fun to each write a post about the show.  One in favor of the show, one against it.
As anyone who reads my Walking Dead posts could probably guess, I am against it.

Let’s get a couple things out of the way first.

I love Psycho.  It’s one of my all-time favorite movies.  I’m also a huge fan of Psycho IIPsycho III is kind of enjoyable, though there’s nothing special about it (although Jeff Fahey really seems like he’s having a great time in it).  Psycho IV is an interesting concept (a prequel, more or less), but a poorly executed movie.  Pretty boring, really.

I went into Bates Motel with mixed emotions.  I assumed it would work on the same timeline as Psycho IV (with slightly fewer scenes of Norman rolling around in his underwear with his mother, preferably).  That is to say, I assumed it would be a prequel, showing the relationship between Norman and his mother.  And, while I had my doubts that it would translate to a good TV show, I was still looking forward to what they would do.

Sadly, it didn’t grab me, and I ended up giving up on it after 5 episodes.

Here’s my main problem with Bates Motel: I don’t understand the thought process behind the show.  It’s almost as if the creator had an idea for a show about a small, seemingly idyllic town with a secret (drugs, sex slavery, the mob, etc.), then said, “Let’s throw Norman Bates and his mother into this.”  It didn’t have to be the Bates family.  In fact, it probably shouldn’t have been the Bates family.  The show could have worked without throwing Norman and Norma into the mix.  Instead, it just feels like there’s too much going on, and it comes off as a bit of a mess.
If the goal was to tell a story about Norman Bates and his relationship with his mother, do that.  That would have been more interesting than taking those characters and dumping them into “a town with a secret” scenario.  It’s almost as if they didn’t trust the Bates story to be interesting enough to carry the show by itself.

That’s my main issue with the show.  However, I have a handful of smaller issues.  I could possibly overlook some of these, but not all of them.  In an effort to keep this from getting too long, I’ll try to make these short.

Why is it set in modern day, yet the Bates’ clothes/home look like they’re from the 50s/60s?  If it’s not working on the original timeline, what’s the point of using that style?

There’s no one to identify with.  No proxy.  Who exactly am I supposed to connect with in this show?

Where does it go?  We know how their story ends, and there’s nothing keeping my interest to get to that point.

Freddie Highmore has all the nervousness of Anthony Perkins, with none of the magnetic charm.

It’s not a terrible show.  I don’t hate it.  I had quite a few problems with it, and I found it extremely boring.  I stopped watching because I honestly didn’t care what happened next, and the thought of starting another episode made me tired.  I can see why people like it, but it didn’t grab me.

It’s quite possible that I’m just a little too critical, but I didn’t go into this looking for things to dislike.  I honestly didn’t.  Because of my of love of the first two Psycho movies, I went into this with an open mind.  I wanted to like it.  I just couldn’t.