A Little Mad Sometimes: The Unauthorized Psycho Timeline and Encyclopedia
To be published in 2016 or early 2017
A boy's best friend is his mother—and for Norman Bates, that connection created a sexual identity crisis that earned him a place among the most popular fictional serial killers of all time. Created by writer Robert Bloch as the central character of his novel Psycho and its two sequels, Psycho II and Psycho House, Norman—inspired by real-life serial killer Ed Gein—was immortalized by Anthony Perkins in Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 thriller Psycho, and in its three sequels. A Little Mad Sometimes: The Psycho Timeline and Encyclopedia explores Bates' story as portrayed in both the books and the movies, as well as in the 1987 TV pilot Bates Motel, Gus Van Sant's 1998 Psycho re-imagining, and the upcoming Bates Motel TV series starring Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore.
Stay tuned for updates about this project, which is currently in production. In the meantime, Rich Handley (author of Timeline of the Planet of the Apes, Lexicon of the Planet of the Apes and The Back to the Future Lexicon) answers four brief questions about his appreciation for the Psycho mythos:
HASSLEIN BOOKS: How long have you been a fan of the Psycho franchise?
RICH HANDLEY: I don't know exactly when my fascination with Hitchcock's Psycho first began, but I've loved the original film since I was a child in the 1970s. In my opinion, it's a perfect movie, in terms of writing, acting, directing, dialog, music, pacing, cinematography, shock value and any number of other criteria; in fact, it might be the greatest thriller ever made. It's also among the very few horror films to spawn sequels actually worth watching. As a teenager, I eagerly devoured all three sequels and (despite a few missteps here and there) found something to love about each one. Yes, even Psycho III.
HASSLEIN: What inspired your fascination with that universe, and why?
HANDLEY: There's so much that was right about the original Psycho, as well as the Robert Bloch novel on which it was based. There are certain films immortalized for their "twist endings," from Planet of the Apes, Soylent Green and The Others to The Sixth Sense, Fight Club and The Usual Suspects. And the granddaddy of them all was Psycho. Although I'm not old enough to have seen the movie in a theater, I've heard many people describe how stunned they were when the shocking truth about Norman's mother was revealed. I can only imagine how floored audiences must have been at the time—and I envy them that experience—but even as someone watching it years later, I was still left with my jaw hanging the first time I saw it. Hitchcock breathed brilliant life into Bloch's novel (which I've read, and which is also an excellent work, though the film version is better, in my opinion—a true rarity among novel-to-film adaptations). The casting of Anthony Perkins as Norman was among the greatest decisions in Hollywood history, and resulted in one of the most mesmerizing and effective performances. Between the unexpected ending, Hitchcock's directing, Perkins' portrayal, the completely ballsy move of killing off the main protagonist halfway through the movie, and the frenetic, tension-laden soundtrack by Bernard Herrmann, Psycho is a film I've never grown tired of seeing. Anyone who has never seen it… should.
HASSLEIN: How would you sum up the project to tantalize future readers?
HANDLEY: A Little Mad Sometimes follows in the tradition of Hasslein's Planet of the Apes and Back to the Future titles by breaking down the events, characters and other elements of the Psycho novels and films, in the form of a combined encyclopedia and chronology. Fans of the movies may not realize this, but Bloch's Norman was quite different than what was portrayed onscreen. Unlike Perkins' tall, lanky, shy and youthful persona, Bloch's Bates was short, bald, rotund and middle-aged, and more visibly teetered on the verge of insanity. What's more, whereas Hitchcock's classic film inspired three sequels, a remake, a failed TV pilot and a TV series currently in production, Bloch's masterpiece spawned two lesser-known novels that entirely diverged from the films' events. A Little Mad Sometimes will examine the entire franchise—all six movies and three books, as well as Innovation Publishing's comic book adaptation, an episode of Amazing Stories partially set within the first film, and other aspects of Psycho often overlooked, such as a TV commercial featuring Perkins as Norman, enjoying (I kid you not) a bowl of Oatmeal Raisin Crisp cereal.
HASSLEIN: What most excites you about working on this book?
HANDLEY: The opportunity to re-connect with these brilliant stories I've loved since my youth, and to re-immerse myself in the world of Norman Bates and his increasingly bizarre and grotesque family tree. It's a world both terrifying and tragic, both dangerous and sympathetic—in short, it's a dichotomy that leaves the viewer or reader disturbed and of two minds. Just like Norman himself.
Psycho and related characters and stories © Paramount Pictures and Universal Pictures. No copyright infringement intended.