The Graveyard: Digging up Mick Garris’ Psycho IV: The Beginning


After Psycho III and long before the TV series Bates MotelUniversal attempted to bring the origins of Norman Bates and his Mother to the small screen in Psycho IV: The Beginning. Join us as we take a look back at the 1990′ take on the Bates tale.

The Beginning of Psycho IV

The filming of Psycho IV took place at Universal Studios Orlando from June 4th to July 1st 1990, taking just under one month to complete. Although the studio intended to begin production before the parks grand opening, the movie faced unforeseen delays, which led to it becoming a major attraction for the visiting tourists, who could watch several of the scenes being shot whilst the park was open during the day.

The screenwriter of the original Psycho , Joseph Stefano, Chose to return to the franchise to pen this fourth installment with Mick Garris taking directorial duties after the critical and financial failure of Psycho III.

The obligatory plot synopsis from the IMDB page:

"Norman Bates returns for this prequel, once more having mother troubles. This time around he is invited to share memories of Mother with a radio talk show host, but fears that he may kill again for his beloved is impregnated with his child and Norman cannot let another Bates loose in the civilised world."

Photo via Universal

‘I think you may need some moisturiser, Mother.’


Usually I do a ‘Release’ sub-heading, but as this was a made for TV affair, box office information and budgets are very hard to dig up, so I apologise for the lack of info on that front. However, I did find out that the movie premiered on Nov. 10, 1990 in the USA.

My Thoughts

Hi, my name is James, and I have a confession to make: I am NOT a fan of Horror villain origin stories. However, I really don’t mind Psycho IV. I feel like even though it is a made for TV affair, it has a certain degree of charm and quality and makes you genuinely feel for Norman, unlike most Horror origin tales which make the killer in to an edgy, annoying kid (I’m looking at you Rob Zombies’ Halloween!).

Personally, I feel that this movie does a good job at showing the abuse Norman received from his mother and his step father without spoon feeding the audience too much. Olivia Hussey, whom many will know from genre favourites Black Christmas and IT, provides a great performance as the younger, mentally unstable Norma Bates, with Henry Thomas AKA Elliott from E.T. portraying the struggling teenage Norman to perfection.

Photo via Universal

‘Norman!! What have I told you about wearing my clothes?’

Did you know?

Unlike the positive feedback from the Psycho III cast and crew, Mick Garris went on record to say that Anthony Perkins was the most difficult actor he’s worked with in his directorial career.

When Norman first calls the radio station, he says that his name is Ed. This is potentially a nod to the real life inspiration for the character of Norman Bates, Ed Gein.

Series Connections

When writing the film,  Joseph Stefano chose to ignore the Mrs. Spool story arc that was established in II and III.

The dress Norman wears whilst dressed as ‘Mother’ is the same dress used in Psycho III. Young star Henry Thomas got carried away in the first murder scene and cut himself, causing nerve damage and a scar he still has now.

Via Universal

Bates family photo…

Bates Legacy

Sadly, this was actor Anthony Perkins‘ last outing as Norman, as he passed away almost two years after this movie was released — after being diagnosed with HIV. In a time period filled with slasher villains wearing rubber masks and haunting dreams, all Norman Bates needed to unnerve you was a wig, dress and butcher knife, but that was all down to how well Mr. Perkins portrayed the mentally ill Norman.

But where can I see it?

Like Psycho III, this film has yet to receive any kind off official UK Blu Ray release, but here is a Region 2 release available on Amazon UK for £14.99. As with II and III, Shout! Factory have released this title under their Scream Factory banner and it is available from WOWHD for a reasonable £14.48.

via Shout Factory

Next: The Graveyard: Digging up Anthony Perkins’ Psycho III

Will you be checking this sequel out? Seen it already and we’ve jogged your memory? Let us know in the comments below or on our social media pages, FacebookTwitter and Instagram.