Picturing a Motel Menace Scarier Than Bedbugs in Hollywood, California
Wedged in between the explosions, flash floods, ye olde European Town, and the cowboy kitsch of the Universal Studios back-lot tour, you’ll find a physical reminder of a time before reality TV and plentiful Internet porn, when voyeurism was exciting, risky, and terror inducing. The Bates Motel and Mansion have been moved around Universal’s lot several times since 1960, surviving the decimation of fires, remakes of the film, and the increasing Disneyfication of the studio’s grounds. Though modified, the motel’s buildings evoke the original “Psycho” (except in color) — with the creepy camera-angle-friendly Victorian mansion (based on a painting by Edward Hopper) looming overhead atop a small hill. Despite the fact that “Psycho” was terribly low-budget, the building has held up as well as the movie. Universal goes the shtick route here. Tram-voyeurs watch a greasy-haired Norman Bates loading an inanimate Janet Leigh doll into a trunk (with an incongruous bit of Whoville peeking over the motel roof). The taxidermist then turns on the tram, crassly wielding a rubber knife in a way that lacks the meticulously crafted suspense of the original, but delights squealing postmodern kids.
- Barbara Edmiston Smart writes. I was almost there. Yikes.