Sunday, March 22, 2015

#1,679. Psychomania (1973)

Directed By: Don Sharp

Starring: Nicky Henson, Mary Larkin, Ann Michelle

Tag line: "Motorcycle Maniacs on Wheels"

Trivia: During a BBC interview, Nicky Henson said that he has always thought the film was terrible and only decided to be in it because he thought no one would ever see it

A movie about undead bikers? Sounds a little unusual, doesn’t it? Well, that’s just scratching the surface; directed by Don Sharp, 1973’s Psychomania is, from start to finish, an intensely strange motion picture.

Tom Latham (Nicky Henson) is the leader of a biker gang, a group of hell raisers known as “The Living Dead”. His gang’s name proves prophetic, actually, because Tom has just stumbled upon something both his mother (Beryl Reid) and his family’s faithful servant, Shadwell (George Sanders), were hiding from him: the secret to eternal life. Of course, like most secrets, there’s a catch: if you want to live forever, you must, 1. kill yourself, and 2. have total confidence that you will return (even the slightest hesitation when taking your own life will put you in the grave for good). So, the next day, while he and his buddies are running from the cops, Tom decides to end it all by driving his bike off a bridge. With his mother’s permission, Tom’s girlfriend, Abby (Mary Larkin) and the rest of “The Living Dead” bury Tom along with his beloved bike. Shortly after, someone claiming to be Tom is spotted at a roadside rest stop, where 5 innocent people are murdered. What’s more, his body is no longer in its grave! As the gang soon discovers, their fearless leader has conquered death, and it isn’t long before they want to do the same. With an undead army of vicious bikers at his disposal, Tom plans to take over the city, something his mother simply cannot allow. But then... how is she going to stop him?

Psychomania is a decent biker flick, profiling a gang that stirs up all kinds of trouble. After causing an accident that claims the life of a motorist (Roy Evans), “The Living Dead” descends upon a crowded section of town, where they chase mothers pushing baby carriages and knock a painter off a ladder. The police pursue them several times, leading to some exciting action scenes, but it’s the film’s supernatural elements that will truly blow you away. Following an odd sequence in which he visits the room where his father died (the door to which had been locked for 18 years), Tom goes through with his suicide bid, and is buried, along with his bike, in a remote area known as the “Seven Witches”. Soon after, we’re treated to a nifty scene where Tom rides his bike right out of the grave. When the others realize what’s happened to Tom, they, too, start committing suicide, doing so in very creative ways (one guy leaps from a plane and refuses to open his parachute).

From its unique storyline and bizarre casting choices (George Sanders, as regal as ever, portrays a butler with an astute knowledge of the occult) to its folksy theme song (“Riding Free”, performed by Harvey Andrews, is reminiscent of the music of Donovan or Peter, Paul and Mary), Psychomania is a gloriously peculiar movie, and I loved every minute of it!

1 comment:

Tommy Ross said...

I'm glad someone feels the same way I do bout this one, it's in my collection and like it for all the same reasons, and how bout those early 70's set pieces!