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Film / Psycho IV: The Beginning

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Psycho IV: The Beginning is the third and last sequel to Psycho, starring Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates and Olivia Hussey as Norma Bates. A Made-for-TV Movie, it originally aired on Showtime in 1990.

Norman has been rehabilitated and lives with his wife Connie. He panics when he learns that Connie is pregnant, fearing that the child will inherit his mental illness. The film explores his younger years and his problematic relationship with his mother.

This film provides examples of:

  • Alone with the Psycho: Connie, in the climax.
  • All Women Are Lustful: Norma lusts after her son and punishes him when he reacts, then she chastises him for keeping pornographic magazines and reminds him that all women are whores excluding herself. Also, the two women Norman dates and later murders, throw themselves at him.
  • Artistic License – Medicine: The poison in the tea. Norman uses strychnine to poison his mother and her lover. The lethal dose of strychnine is around 10mg and Norman's bottle reads 1.5mg/oz. He puts a maximum of 4oz into the ice-tea. Even if his mother and her lover drank the whole pitcher, it would have hardly killed them. Furthermore, strychnine is one of the most bitter substances known to man, it's highly unlikely to be swallowed by accident, even in very small doses. Strychnine also takes ten to twenty minutes to take effect, and two to three hours before death, yet in the film both Norman's mother and her boyfriend die within minutes.
  • Babies Ever After: Zigzagged and Discussed. Norman and his wife Connie are expecting their first child, but Norman fears that the child will become mentally deranged like him and seeks to prevent that by contemplating killing Connie and the unborn child. Luckily, he has a change of heart, and he and Connie move on together with their new life prepared for their unborn child.
  • Broad Strokes: The events of Psycho II and Psycho III are never directly referenced, and neither is the character of Emma Spool. However, the film never outright contradicts the events of these films, therefore it could be considered this trope.
  • Canon Discontinuity: How the film seems to treat the ending of Psycho III, which suggested he won't be released again. Arguably justified as Norman had been released in the second movie and deemed sane, but was driven insane again rather quickly and went back to committing murders, making the chances of another release very unlikely indeed. It also (seemingly) ignores the revelation that Norman's aunt Emma Spool killed his father and tried to steal him from his mother, though this plot point is never explicitly contradicted or retconned.
  • Chick Magnet: Norman claimed to be this as a teenager. One girl literally ran into his house, and the other was a woman twice his age. You can guess how it ended though...
  • Closet Punishment: In one of the flashbacks to his teen years, Norma locks Norman in the closet as punishment for getting an erection from her.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: After the immense crap that happens throughout the Psycho series (mainly the first one), Norman finally is allowed to forget his dark past and focus on Connie and his soon to be born child.
  • The End... Or Is It?: Subverted. Norman says he is finally free, but then we hear Norma's voice screaming from what's left of the cellar. However, this demand goes completely ignored, showing that Norman is indeed free of his demons.
  • Fan Disservice: The movie features several scenes of intimacy. But considering one of them depicts an abusive incestous relationship, and two of them involve the murder of two innocent women, one gets a feeling of nausea rather than arousal.
  • Framing Device: The radio show about matricide, as Norman uses it to discuss the terrible childhood that the movie explores.
  • Good Bad Girl: Holly (Norman's first victim) is definitely implied to be this. While she makes the first moves on Norman, and is rather horny in general, she's also a rather sweet and friendly girl, at least from what little we see of her.
  • Grand Finale: The film was made into this at Anthony Perkins' request, since he knew he was suffering from AIDS and would likely not have lived long enough to make a fifth film.
  • Guess Who I'm Marrying?: Norma and Chet are due to be married, but Norman manages to sabotage their plans by poisoning them both.
  • Hypocrite: In a childhood flashback during his father's funeral, Norma tickles a young Norman causing him to burst out in laughter. Norma then slaps him across the face and chastises him for laughing despite her being the direct inappropriate cause for his laughter. Which gets worst as he grows up and the hypocrisy continues through sexual abuse.
    Norma: Don't you have any respect for the dead!?
    • She also believes all women to being whores, except herself.
  • If I Can't Have You…: Feeling betrayed by his mother with her new lover, Norman poisons them both with their tea.
  • Incest Subtext: On a stormy night, his mother makes Norman take off his clothes and snuggle up beside her in the matrimonial bed. This experience scares him, so he sleeps in his own bed instead. Daubing her in the same part is also heavily eroticized, confirmed by her sudden snap-out scare and rampage. And their overall jealousy of every girl he likes/her boyfriend.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Norma gives one to Norman. When she hits him with a newspaper, Norman asks her why she's hitting him, leading Norma to respond "Who else can I hit!?". Given that they're the only two people living closely together, it doesn't give her any appropriate reason to vent her anger at her son.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Norman has contacted a radio talk show host to discuss his murderous feelings. The psychologist is insulting and blunt with Norman, causing the radio show host to kick him off. The psychologist points out Norman is a serial killer and she's kicking off a man who is an expert in his field. It all works out, sort of, but his approach is actually accurate as conciliatory is the worst approach for someone like Norman.
    • Adding to this is that the psychologist, Dr. Richmond, was actually Norman's psychologist at one point; he was the doctor providing the Info Dump at the end of the first film to explain Norman's behavior. If anyone knew what Norman could be capable of, it would be him.
  • Kill It with Fire: The solution Norman finds to get rid of Mother once and for all? Burning down the Bates house.
  • Kick The Son Of A Bitch: Norma and her lover Chet treat her son Norman horribly, so it's only fitting that they both meet a slow painful death via poisoning.
  • Let the Past Burn: At the end, Norman burns his mother's house down. In a variation, he is nearly trapped inside, signifying his own difficulty in escaping his past.
  • Love Triangle: An unusual one between Norman/Norma/Chet.
  • Momma's Boy: Norma's years of sexually abusing her son has left Norman with an exaggerated fixation on her. Norman still puts up with his mother's abuse because he desires her and sees her lover Chet as a rival.
  • Parental Incest: Norma tickles/sexually stimulates then punishes her son Norman from his childhood up to his teen years.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Norma delivers one awful one to her son Norman in a flashback.
    Norma: They're closing down the highway and building a new one. They couldn't build it closer to the motel because then the world could still see us! Oh, what am I going to do?! How am I going to live?! You! Just like my father, never a drop of sympathy!
    Norman: I'm sorry.
    Norma: Sorry for what!? What the hell good are you if you can't show a little drop of sympathy?!
    Norman: Well, I don't know how!
    Norma: No, you just know how to cause trouble. Because of you, my bladder's damaged. I can't hold water. That's why I'm always running to the toilet. Did you know that?
    Norman: Yes, I know.
    Norma: I was fine until I gave birth to you. You caused a lot of damage. I should have gotten rid of you the day I found out I was gonna have you. Not one thing you've ever said or done has made all I've gone through with you worthwhile! Not one blessed thing! I should have killed you in my womb! You sure as hell tried to kill me getting out of it!!
  • Scary Stinging Swarm: The flashbacks show that Norman's father died as a result of being stung by numerous bees.
  • Shout-Out: When Norman first calls into the radio show, he says that his name is Ed. Robert Bloch, author of the original novel "Psycho", based Norman Bates on real-life Wisconsin serial killer and cannibal Ed Gein.
  • The Sociopath: Norma seems to meet the criteria: a grandiose belief in her own superiority above other women, aggression and violence, manipulation and bullying of her own sun, unhealthy sexual promiscuity...
  • Something Else Also Rises: Norman develops this problem every time he is sexually stimulated by his mother Norma and runs away in shame because of it, knowing she would punish him for it. It comes back to haunt him whenever he dates older women and he has to murder them for it.
    Adult Norman: (narrating) Lying in that bed by my mother, well, I guess you could say I got a little too big for my britches.
  • Stacy's Mom: Norman dates a woman twice his age and then kills her when she arouses him, setting off his killer instinct.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: We get the nasty results of Norman poisoning his mother and her lover in gruesome detail.
  • Wham Line: "She let herself get pregnant!"