The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Psycho IV (1990)

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Sometimes I think I'm a real glutton for punishment. Sometimes I think my judgment on what's going to be a fun bad movie and what'll be a rough bad movie is not what it should be. I recently re-watched this bad boy after I'd TiVoed it on Sci-Fi, and it hurt. My buddy had fallen asleep on the couch before I started it, and woke up half way through. I felt so bad for him, because I can only imagine what was going through his head while his mind tried to take in this piece of cinematic garbage and make sense of it.

Psycho IV was a TV movie that acted as a prequel to the original yet at the same time a kind of wrapping up of the series. It had Anthony Perkins confessing his soul to a late-nite radio talk show, and then mixed in flashback scenes where a young Norman Bates was played by the kid from ET. Not Drew Barrymore. The older Norman is planning to kill his wife, who deceived him and abstained from her birth control to have kids. The younger Norman was made insane by his crazy mom, played by the hot woman who played Juliet in Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet. Anyway, Norman sees the light just before he kills his wife, and then burns the evil Bates Motel.

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I'm not sure what Alfred Hitchcock thought of the sequels. He couldn't be too happy. The original Psycho was a movie masterpiece that today's Hostel 22s and Saw 87s couldn't fathom. One thing Psycho IV had going for it was that it was better than any of those, and better than the remake of Psycho with Vince Vaughn. Of course, if that's what you have going for you, you're in trouble.

The most absurd thing about the film is that Norman is a free man. How does this happen? People who kill other people, even if they are deemed insane, are still put away. They don't just do a few years, act cool, then get out and hang with the rest of us. Not only that, but he's married to a psychiatrist he met at the asylum, and she's still working there, or at least at another one. This is ridiculous. Who doesn't have the basic knowledge of human society to know that if a psychiatrist at an asylum dates one of her patients, she doesn't work at asylums anymore?

This has Anthony Perkins. As a huge Red Sox fan, I thought he was decent as Sox great Jimmy Piersal in Fear Strikes Out (except he threw like a girl, and Piersal had a rocket arm); I also dug him in Catch-22; and he was obviously great as Norman in the first Psycho. Here, though, he's working with shitty material, and even he couldn't resuscitate it. He died of AIDS about two years after this was made, which according to imdb, he learned he'd contracted through a National Inquirer article written after they got some of his blood and had it tested.

This also has Olivia Hussey, which for many out there, including myself, she's known only as Juliet from the Zeffirelli version of Shakespeare's play. When I was a freshman in high school, we had a long term substitute for English class, and he was pretty clueless. For three days we watched the scene where Hussey's boobs are shown, after we'd tell the teacher we'd only gotten to the point in the movie right before that. I'm sure we'd have been able to stretch it further, but the girls in the class had had enough. It's amazing what's entertaining to a fourteen year-old boy. Or a twenty-eight year-old one.

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This was a pretty unmemorable movie. It tried to make references to the original, like one where Perkins cuts his thumb, and the blood going into the drain mimics the blood in the famous shower scene. Way too obvious and pretty obnoxious. The symbolism in the burning of the Bates Motel was kind of unwieldy too, and it left a bad taste in my mouth that a bad TV movie was trying to close the curtain on a movie series that was expertly closed by a master movie maker thirty years prior. There really shouldn't be a Psycho II, III, and IV, so the effort to put a punctuation mark on a horrible run-on sentence looks extremely trite.

This is ten kinds of avoidable. I shouldn't have watched it again when I did recently. My stupidity should be a lesson to you. The only reason to watch this is if you've done something bad, like didn't offer your seat on the subway to an old lady, and you want to so something as a personal penance to clear your conscience. Maybe Chris Hansen of Dateline To Catch a Predator fame could have the cops in the towns he works show this to inmates as they process them. That may bring in the ACLU, though.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0102724/

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