Psycho IV: The Beginning (TV Movie 1990) - Plot Summary Poster

(1990 TV Movie)


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

  • Norman Bates recalls his childhood with his abusive mother while fearing his unborn child will inherit his split personality disorder.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • On a local radio show, the host and D.J. Fran Ambrose (CCH Pounder) is discussing matricide with Dr. Leo Richmond (Warren Frost). The doctor, having written a book titled Mother Killers which details "boys who kill their mothers", talks about a 30-year-old case in which a young teenage boy committed matricide, and then dressed as his mother and went on a murderous rampage. The next caller, requesting to be identified as 'Ed', claims to be personally connected with the show's theme. Ed, who is revealed to be in fact Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) tells Fran and Dr. Richmond that he has killed many people before and that he is "gonna have to do it again".

    Norman then proceeds to tells a story about one of his murders; A frisky young teenage girl named Holly (Sharen Camille) arrives at the Bates Motel c. the 1950s, with a young Norman (Henry Thomas) sitting on the porch of his gloomy house on the hill overlooking the motel. The flirtatious girl asks to see Norman's room, and when young Norman attends to one of the motel guests, she sneaks into the Bates house. After disrobing, the girl lies in bed for a very nervous Norman, who decides that he had better check on his mother. It appears that Norman's mother is upstate that a "whore" is in the house, and she wants Norman to kill her. When the girl goes looking for Norman in the master bedroom, she sees the mummified remains of his mother Norma Bates. Norman (dressed as his mother) kills the girl by stabbing her to death.

    In the present day, when Dr. Richmond asks where 'Ed' was when he killed his mother, an agitated Norman hangs up the phone and turns off the radio. It is revealed here that Norman is living in a fancy suburban house somewhere in Fairvale, California. Just then, Connie (Donna Mitchell), Norman's wife, phones him from the hospital where she works and asks if he may pick up his birthday cake from the local bakery since she has taken an evening shift at the hospital. After hanging up the phone, Norman turns the radio back on where he hears Fran telling the listeners that she would like to hear from 'Ed' again. Norman calls the show and talks about his father, who died as a result of an allergic reaction to bee stings, when Norman was six-years-old. Fran reminds the listeners that she is speaking with a man who has killed his mother. Norman chips in saying "plus her boyfriend with her."

    In another flashback, Norman narrates that he was practically running his family-owned motel by the time he was age 15. He speaks in a eerily close and intimate relationship with his mother Norma (Olivia Hussey) (whom she named her only son after her). He also talks about her mother's perculiarities: "She'd been sweet one moment, and the she'd suddenly turn mean for no reason in the next". Norma Bates (who is implied to suffer from schizophrenia and borderline-personalty disorder among other mental illnesses) would occasionally throw maniacal tantrums and she seemed oblivious to her sexual frankness towards her son. One day, when the two of them are playfully rolling in the grass near the Bates house, Norma realizes that her son is getting sexually aroused, and she punishes him for having "dirty thoughts" by forcing him to put on one of her dresses, and she then smears makeup on his face and locking him in a closet.

    During a break for 'Ed', Dr. Richmond expresses to Fran his suspicions that Ed is actually Norman Bates. He says that if Norman makes a threat, it should not be taken lightly. Fran tells her station co-workers to check out the records in Fairvale, California to see if Norman has been released from an institution.

    Norman comes back on the air and continues telling his life story. It seems that Norma is upset about a new freeway being constructed so far from the motel which is making it loose business. She reprimands Norman for not showing sympathy and blames him for her bad bladder, saying un-motherly things like "I should have killed you in my womb. You sure as hell tried to kill me by getting out of it."

    Fran and the others learn that Norman no longer runs the Bates Motel for it was closed down seven years ago (after the events in Psycho III). He spent a second time at a mental hospital where he met a nurse at the ward where he spent, named Connie, who helped him get better. Norman was then released after being deemed sane once again. He married Connie two years ago and has been living with her ever since.

    Norman continues his story by saying that some time later his mother met a man named Chet Rudolph (Thomas Schuster), who coaxes Norman into boxing, only to punch him too hard. After inadvertently saying his real name, Norman then talks about committing another murder, that he brought over another young teenage girl, named Gloria, from town and, after kissing in Chet's car, he brought her to the motel and then killed her, and dumping her body into the swamp behind the motel.

    Eventually, Norman says he must kill his wife Connie because she "let herself get pregnant". He wanted to end the "Bates line", but Connie stopped taking birth control pills. As Norman says, he will kill her with his own hands, "just like the first time." He then tells of a dark and stormy night when he added the poison strychnine to a pitcher of tea and served the poison to his mother and Chet while they were getting intimate in her bedroom. Chet drank the poisoned tea first and then Norma. When Chet began gagging and telling Norma (too late) that Norman just poisoned them, she then tries to attack Norman, who pushes her to the floor and watches them both die.

    At his mother's funeral and wake at his house, Norman carries his mother's dead both from the open coffin to the cellar, and replaces her empty coffin with weighted down books from the book shelf and closes the coffin lid to keep his secret. He then preserved her body via taxidermy and kept it off-and-on in the cellar for the next 10 years. In the present, Norman tells Fran that the "show's over," and he then hangs up and then goes to meet Connie at the Bates house.

    Norman drives to the closed down motel and up to his old house long-since abandoned. Norman attacks Connie with a knife. Connie manages to talk Norman out of killing her, and a frustrated Norman begins dousing his home with gasoline and setting everything on fire. Norman, frightened by the images of his mother and some of his many victims, is finally helped out of the burning cellar by Connie. As he walks away from his burning house, he tells Connie, "I'm free."

    In the final shot, the invisible ghost of Norman's mother is heard screaming in the cellar demanding to be released saying "Get me outta here! Norman!"

    We hear the crying of a newborn over a fade to black screen.

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