Psycho IV: The Beginning is the fourth and final film in Universal’s Psycho franchise, and the last to portray Anthony Perkins in his most famous of roles. It’s the first of the series not to be released theatrically, debuting on the premium cable channel Showtime in 1990. This film is a sequel in theory, as it does take a step forward in showing Norman Bates trying to live the semblance of a normal life today, finally in a relationship with a woman, with a baby on the way. Trouble is, Norman does not want a baby, thinking that being a homicidal maniac is a genetic trait that passes on from generation to generation, and he wants his mother’s psychopathic tendencies to end with him.
On this night, Norman is listening to a late-night radio program about why sons kill their mothers, and after hearing what the doctors have to say about it, Norman ends up calling the show to tell how it really went down for him. Under the pseudonym of ‘Ed’, Norman relates the tale of his adolescence, and how his mother Norma’s severe mood swings, psychological abuse, and sexual repression drove him to commit murder, including his own mother.
Although much talked about in the previous films, Psycho IV: The Beginning is the first to show a living Norma Bates (Olivia Hussey), and to give is a first-hand viewing of how bizarre an upbringing a young Norman (Henry Thomas) would have, resulting in an overwhelming feeling of guilt in his actions that he didn’t have the maturity or mental balance to keep a grip on. In addition to Norma’s stamping out of her son’s masculinity and sexuality, there is also an element of Norman becoming a bit of a surrogate for male companionship in her life in between finding a suitable partner, though never physically consummated between mother and son. Mick Garris directs from a screenplay from Psycho screenwriter Joseph Stefano.