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Norman Bates

Movie Maniacs 2
by yo go re

We all go a little mad, sometimes.

When Alfred Hitchcock decided to make Psycho, he bought the story rights from author Robert Bloch for $9,000 anonymously, then proceeded to buy up every copy of the book he could, in order to keep the ending a secret.

Today we're going to undo all that work.

Young Norman Bates didn't have many friends, just his mother to keep him company. Now he's the one taking care of her - she isn't quite herself, lately - and of the Bates Motel: an overnight stop whose business has just died since the interstate bypassed the area. It's so isolated anymore that you could scream bloody murder without disturbing a soul.

Part of Movie Maniacs Series 2 (god, that seems like forever ago), Norman came out in 1999 along with Pumpkinhead, Chuckie and the Crow. Yes, it was really that long ago that fans started their petulant complaints that Todd was getting away from the "Maniacs" part of the line.

This is a wonderfully sculpted figure, really showcasing how McFarlane's sculptors mastered the art of making clothing "hang" properly. Norman's lower body is actually just a hollow shell with his feet poking out beneath, much like McToys' Ghostface figure. However, it really does look like there's a body beneath that flower-print fabric, an illusion created by the careful crafting of folds and wrinkles.

The fine detailing continues up to the figure's head, as well. Not only is the face a dead-on imitation of Anthony Perkins, but the wig he wears is also removable, so the designers have actually sculpted him two different hairstyles. They even went so far as to include sculpting on the inside of the hairpiece, so that even if it's just hanging from his hand, it still looks like a real wig; now that's dedicated craftsmanship.

One word of warning though: be careful to whom you show this figure; some folks have had the ending of Psycho spoiled by the appearance of Norman in his mother's dress. Because apparently they've been living under a rock since 1960. Some things you're supposed to pick up on your own.

The Movie Maniacs' articulation has always left a lot to be desired - a whole lot. These really are statues more than the "Ultra-Action Figures" their advertising purports them to be. However, Norman has a really smart articulation point in his right elbow, which allows you to recreate the stabbing action of that infamous shower scene (provided you come up with your own shower and victim).

Despite "pictorial consultant" Saul Bass's claims that he was the one that actually directed the shower scene, it really was all Hitchcock. The scene only lasts for 45 seconds in the film, but it took seven days (and 70 camera angles) to shoot the 90 different cuts - and during all that, we never see any explicit nudity, stabbing or evidence of wounds. All we get is Bosco's chocolate syrup swirling the drain and the sound of a knife plunging into a casaba melon.

At seven inches tall, and with 10 points of articulation, Norman Bates reminds us all not to shower alone.

-- 10/20/03

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