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Psycho IV: The Beginning Reviews

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Cassandra M

Super Reviewer

January 18, 2010
An interesting and quite psychologically accurate telling of how Norman Bates became the world's most famous momma's boy. Henry Thomas was a good choice for young Norman. Olivia Hussey (from Black Christmas, 1974) is very good as Mama Bates. Her reactions to Norman created an atmosphere for his schizophrenia to fester: the scene where she tickles him at his father's funeral is a good example. When he quite rightly giggles, she slaps him, even though she provoked it. Young Norman grew up not knowing how to react to situations. Plus the great love and fear for his mother laid the groundwork for his psychosis. It is really pretty good.

Super Reviewer

November 27, 2012
Psycho IV is the conclusion to the Norman Bates saga. In this film, we get the back story and why Norman Bates became so demented. I think it's a great idea for a plot, and it is slightly better than part 3 due to that fact. There are some good performances here, and the directing is effective enough to keep you interested from start to finish. The film does have its flaws, but for a Made for TV picture, it's pretty good and it delivers some genuine chills and thrills. Although you can come to expect that by a fourth film in any series, there's a lack of truly great ideas, and though this one offers an origins take on the Psycho franchise, there's still something lacking in the film to really make it memorable. The film is told with the aid of flashbacks and it is well done in that matter and there's plenty to offer for fans of the series. As for me, I've always loved the original, and no sequel will ever top it, but the sequels have managed to elaborate on the character of Norman Bates and it's been quite entertaining. Anthony Perkins is what kept me interested in the sequels and it's no exception for this final entry. As far as I'm concerned, considering that the original is so iconic, the films that followed were pretty good, and departed significantly from the suspense, psychological horror genre and ventured deeper in the Slasher genre. I really enjoyed this film, and Anthony Perkins as usual is phenomenal as the character he established over the course of previous three films. Very entertaining, and underrated, Psycho IV: The Beginning is a very good prequel compared to numerous others that have failed to tell an effective plot. Perkins holds the material together very well with a chilling performance and he manages to play Norman Bates one final time with effective menace and with that said, the film overcomes its many weaknesses

Super Reviewer

January 1, 2011
We finally get to see exactly what makes Norman Bates a psycho when he tells all on a radio show, of all things. The cast is good, it's still got Perkins, and the continuing story outside of the flashbacks is good, but I don't think this movie was needed, we knew enough about his background from the other three films.

Super Reviewer

July 15, 2007
Well intended but ultimately unnessesary sequel/prequel that finds out what Norman's been up to as well as fleshing out the origins of Norman's psychosis (hence the unnessasary part). Writer Stefano claims his script this ignores parts II and III but Bates says a line about being four years since the last murder which makes that 1986 which is the year Psycho III came out; I'm glad they added that just so there's a sense of cohesion with the rest of the series.

Super Reviewer

October 22, 2010
Psycho IV was the swan song for America's favorite nutcase, as Anthony Perkins died of AIDS complications only a year or so after making it. But the character goes out in style.

In many ways it appears this film ignores the events of Psycho II and III in favor of a "where is he now" story which leads into a flashback that in part explains why Norman went crazy.

Tony Perkins gives a sympathetic performance as Norman. You actually feel sorry for him, particularly at the end (which I won't give away). Has he reformed? Is he still crazy?

Olivia Hussey, meanwhile, is marvelous as his insane mother. She's still one of the most underappreciated actresses in movies today, and there's a scene of her standing in a downpour in which she looks exactly like she did when she played Juliet back in 1968. Her scenes with Henry Thomas are full of tension -- including sexual tension, making much of this film an uncomfortable viewing experience. But you don't watch a Psycho movie to relax, do you? Argentine-born, British-raised Hussey also has one of the sexiest voices ever put on film -- although it's a bit odd hearing a midwestern woman having a British accent.

The rest of the supporting cast is also good, especially CCH Pounder as a talk radio host who attracts the attention of Norman.

My only real disappointment is they should have shot the flashbacks in black and white, as several scenes intentionally reflect the original film (Norman spies on his mother making love using the famous peep hole and also stabs a girl in much the same way (music included) that he killed Janet Leigh in the original film).

A fitting send off for one of the most terrifying characters in cinema history.
Michael G

Super Reviewer

January 26, 2009
When I saw Psycho IV back in the day I thought it was amazing, but after seeing it many years later it's just a badly dated piece of crap. With the original Psycho being one of my Top 2 favorite movies the flashbacks were amazing and elaborated on a lot of little details from the original. But the modern day storyline with the call-in show was godawful. Henry Thomas as a young Norman was okay, Olivia Hussey was trying too hard. Joseph Stefano's (who wrote the screenplay for the original Psycho) heart was in the right place but that final sequence at the motel was kind of painful. If you love the Psycho series (or just the original for that matter) enough you might get something out of it but otherwise don't bother.
Lafe F

Super Reviewer

July 14, 2007
A fascinating little film with Norman Bates flashing back to his boyhood days when his mother was still alive. It feels a bit long at parts, but finishes the Psycho series.

Super Reviewer

January 5, 2007
Yeah, not great (Garris *cough* Mick Garris), but not as bad as you might think. The present day part, with Norman on a radio call-in show (which ultimately goes nowhere), is kind of lame, but the prequel bit with Henry Thomas as young Norman is excellent. Norma Bates was way more screwed up than her son.
Dann M

Super Reviewer

October 31, 2013
An unnecessary but somewhat intriguing semi-prequel, Psycho IV: The Beginning explores the backstory of Norman Bates. While discussing mother killers, the host of a radio show gets the call of her life when Norman Bates calls in to give her an insider's perspective, and to reveal that he will kill again. A lot of the backstories seem contrived, but the present day story is quite interesting. And while overall the acting isn't that good, Anthony Perkins once again gives a captivating performance. Despite its weaknesses, Psycho IV: The Beginning delivers a solid thriller and a climatic conclusion to the saga.

Super Reviewer

December 3, 2011
'Psycho IV: The Beginning' is so splendidly trashy, I can't help but think what a great episode of 'Jerry Springer' Norman Bates and Mother would make.
Anthony V

Super Reviewer

March 22, 2008
The flashbacks with Henry Thomas and Olivia Hussey are phenomenal. The radio talk show stuff is weak.
July 27, 2013
Very good, but some of the plot points took it a bit too far. I really liked CCH Pounder in this one.
August 13, 2010
Written by the original Psych screenwriter, Psycho IV explores the conditions leading to the incubation of Norman's mental problems, namely, his sick relationship with his domineering mother. Racy, with an Oedipal undertone, it's the best of the three sequels.
February 6, 2009
By the fourth installment, I was expecting the worst, yet Joseph Stefano, who wrote the first Psycho, still managed to get and keep my attention. In this sequel/prequel we find out just how poor Norman got so messed up to begin with. Hot and bothered mom sends Norman mixed signals about sex. She wants it from teenage Norman, and my jaw dropped when he tried to give it to on screen in what was kind of a hot scene ala the come on between Huston and Cusack in The Grifters.

The guilt hits before she can complete the act, and even before she really gets started, so she takes it out on Norman by leaving him high and dry and dominating him in some very weird ways. Definitely not what I was expecting, but I squealed with delight to see the story delve frankly into the darkness of numerous taboos. Odd yet clever and well done. Not La Luna with regard to the incest, but twisted enough that I got my money's worth.
November 9, 2010
A sequel and prequel, both at the same time, we spend the film flashing back to Norman's formative years with a younger Mother, played by the gorgeous Olivia Hussey, told from Norman's modern perspective as a married man (Really?), but this film fails in that it ret-cons a lot of the things that were established in the earlier films.

It's an okay watch, but mostly for Hussey in my opinion. Henry Thomas as the younger Norman is just so bland and boring to me it's hard to get past, but oh well, that's more of a personal prejudice than a legit criticism of the film.

February 13, 2010
a great sequel that talks about the events and life of pyschopath killer momma's boy norman bates pyscho 4 the beginning is a entertaing horror fun feest even though this was anothony perkins last role of the killer norman bates before his death 1992
August 21, 2008
Originally aired on Showtime, this is an interesting (if not the most original) prequel to the Psycho franchise. Great performances and a halfway decent script (by Joseph Stefano) help even out its occasional flaws.
May 1, 2007
i kinda liked this one...goes into the background of Norman bates' relationship with his mother and how she died. I really liked it (although I didn't care for the OTHER sequels they made to Psycho).
March 7, 2013
Psycho IV is a surprising return to form for the Psycho franchise. Like its subtitle says, it goes back to the beginning and what made Norman Bates the sadistic and tormented killer he became. It was really fascinating to explore his past and it was also quite suspenseful as he revealed his new plan for murder in this film. It's a well acted, well written, and very engaging horror/suspense film that had me engaged from start to finish. If you are open-minded about the Psycho sequels, this is one to see.
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