The events of 1987’s Bates Motel take place 27 years after schizophrenic serial killer Norman Bates is arrested and found guilty by reason of insanity for his crimes. While in the institution, Norman is introduced to a troubled young boy named Alex West (Bud Cort), who murdered his abusive stepfather in a giant tumble dryer and ends up staying in the same institution. Norman takes the lad under his wing until his death 27 years later, coincidentally the same year that Alex is finally allowed out of the institution. According to Norman’s will (how he is deemed of ‘sound mind’ to do so is subject to debate), Alex inherits the Bates Motel and his family home that overlooks it. Alex soon takes over the motel and aims to renovate it back to its former glory. However, he finds the Bates house already illegally inhabited by a spunky runaway girl named Willie (Lori Petty), who worms her way into staying and helping Alex realize his dream of making a go of the motel business. However, not everyone wants the business to succeed, as Alex begins to see the ghost of Mrs. Bates around the place, and calamities begin to happen that threaten the establishment’s livelihood before it can even begin. In what is obviously the first taste of what the “Bates Motel” series would be like, the final third of the film takes a detour as we’re introduced to Alex’s first guest to stay in the motel, an aerobics instructor named Barbara Peters (Kerrie Keane), who claims to be wanting peace and quiet to get some writing done, but in actuality, she aims to slash her wrists in the tub ). At this point, she is visited by a young woman (Khrystyne Haje) who stops her and takes her to a 1950s-themed party happening at the motel (I think), where she is pursued by Tony (Jason Bateman), a young cruiser there, and the two have strong feelings for one another, despite her protestations about their age difference. But there is much more to the events that transpire that night than meets the eye. Richard Rothstein directs this made-for-TV pilot to a series based on Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho that never followed.
In this prequel of a sort to The Amityville Horror (1979), the dysfunctional Montelli family moves into their new home and finds many curious things right away, including every window being nailed shut and a secret room in the basement of the house that is full of flies, muck and smells to high heaven (or down to low Hell). The longer they stay, the more they begin to witness strange events, and bicker violently with one another, until the eldest son of the family, Sonny ( Jack Magner), actually begins to exhibit behavior that may not be his own, including a desire to kill his abusive father, Anthony (Burt Young), and defile his younger teenage sister, Trish (Diane Franklin). Before things get completely out of hand, the mother requests that a local priest, Father Adamsky (James Olson), come out to investigate the supernatural events of the place, but without the backing of his superiors, he’s going it alone against what appears to be a portal to unfathomable evil that resides below the house. Rutanya Alda and Andrew Prine also appear. Directed by Damiano Damiano from a script by Tommy Lee Wallace.