Get ready to laugh!
Jeffrey Leach | Omaha, NE USA | 12/30/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The much ballyhooed biker film genre is one I rarely, if ever, visit on my cinematic excursions. I have never seen more than ten minutes of "Easy Rider," nor have I witnessed Marlon Brando donning the leather jacket and rebellious attitude in "The Wild One." Forget "Quadrophenia" or even Herschell Gordon Lewis's "She-Devils on Wheels." If it's got a guy throwing caution to the wind on the back of a hog, I have not been there to witness it. The closest I get to a motorcycle movie is when I happen to catch a James Bond film where guys on bikes try to chase down 007. Heck, I can't stand watching that motorcycle show on television where the blowhard screams at his sons all day. That is why I am so surprised I not only rented "Psychomania" but also liked it immensely as well. Here's a movie every lover of low budget cinematic sludge can fully endorse. Here's a movie loaded with ugly guys sporting atrocious haircuts zipping around the highway. Here's a movie where reanimated biker gang members can ride through a brick wall without putting a scratch on their choppers. Here's a movie with characters named Hatchet and Chopped Meat. What are you waiting for?
The Living Dead is the name of the game in a small English village as far as threatening motorcycle gangs go. An equal opportunity employer, the group includes both men and women in their reigns of terror throughout the countryside. What do they do? Oh, just your everyday harmless antics like chasing cars off the road, buzzing pedestrians, and speaking bad English. The leader of the gang is Tom (Nicky Henson), a goofy chap with a psychic mother and no father figure. His girlfriend Abby (Mary Larkin) provides a few kicks when fellow member Jane (Ann Michelle) isn't trying to muscle in. Tom's greatest thrill isn't his girlfriend, however, but trying to figure out a way to live on the wild side. Thanks to his mother (Beryl Reid) and their aging butler Shadwell (George Sanders), he's about to do just that. Mum is part of some frog cult (!) that vigorously promotes the idea that anyone may return from the dead if only he or she wishes to hard enough. You've got to be careful that you don't change your mind at the last minute, though, or you won't ever return. Tom's father apparently wasn't sure, probably because he remembered his son's haircut at the last second and decided he couldn't take coming back to that, but Tom is all for trying out the secrets of the frog cult.
Tom, sad to say, moves on to another plane of existence after soaring off a bridge during a police chase. His friends gather at the gravesite for a truly poignant and memorable service, with the high point being the acoustic version of "Ride Free" played with all due seriousness. Tom's demise crushes Abby, but hope blooms anew as her beau bursts out of the ground alive and kicking on his motorcycle! It worked! He goes on a rampage through the town, killing several people who just happen to irritate him, and then begins to pester the other members of the group to commit the final act. Most of his pals take him up on the offer, dispatching themselves through a variety of methods including skydiving without a parachute, diving into the river weighted down with chains, and taking a freefall out of a tall building while calling out to a police officer below "I'll be right down." Abby even attempts to join Tom's brand new version of The Living Dead by taking a heavy dose of pills, but her heart isn't really in it and she survives with the help of the authorities. The cops, mystified why a few deceased gang members killed morgue personnel and then walked out of the building, put pressure on Abby to bring down the group. "Psychomania" ends with a series of spectacularly cheesy special effects.
It's rare to see a movie as ridiculous and over the top as "Psychomania." It's also rare to enjoy a movie as ridiculous and over the top as "Psychomania." But enjoy it I did. I can't decide which I liked better, the motorcycle gang or Tom's mother and the creepy butler Shadwell. I probably should go with the former since we spend the most time following their exploits. I howled with laughter watching these dolts tool around the countryside while wearing little skull shaped masks. You'd think they would know that blocking their peripheral vision could result in an accident, but even if they did they wouldn't care. Part of being in a motorcycle gang is learning how to live life on the edge. Besides, those haircuts are more dangerous than any riding mishap! It's truly amazing to see how society defined bad behavior even a few decades ago. Nowadays we have to worry about all manner of depraved behaviors. Indeed, you only need open your newspaper to see the latest list of atrocities committed right outside our homes. In "Psychomania" the worst behavior seems to be speeding, nudging cars off the road, and being disrespectful to private property. Sure, things worsen after the gang comes back from the grave, but that's only because it's a crime against God and humanity.
I'm a tad disappointed in the DVD. There weren't any extras, and the picture quality was truly dreadful. You'd figure a laugh a minute schlockfest like this would receive the five star treatment from a company like Blue Underground or Anchor Bay, especially considering master thespian George Sanders starred in it. Sadly, the actor took his life a year or so after "Psychomania" was unleashed on the public. Despite this tragic turn of events, I dare you to despise this film. It's too much fun to really dislike it.
A fine addition to the zombie biker genre
Robert Cossaboon | The happy land of Walworth, NY | 06/19/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Ah, wait a minute....there isn't any such genre; this movie is one of a kind! How could I say no to a film with the plot premise: zombie biker gang terrorizes small town's inhabitants. To be far to the lack of quality in the movie, I didn't so much as love this film as I was fascinated by the sheer weirdness--the back acting, the occult counter-culter plot, and oh yes, the bad acting! As the Amazon review for this film pointed out, Psychomania avoids the extremes of any particular theme: it isn't particularly scary (there is no blood whatsoever), it isn't all that violent (there is lots of riding around, but that's all Tom and his gang seem to do--there is, however, a great scene where Jane (a gorgeous Ann Michelle), one of the biker members, mows over a baby carriage [that kid's going to be bitter when it grows up!]); you sure don't get much in the line of social commentary either--in fact the morality of Tom and the gang's actions isn't never directly addressed at all--so cautionary tale it is not! The believability factor is pretty extreme also. Hatchet's suicide onto the freeway should have left him a barely recognizable scrape, but lo and behold, he's in the morgue perfectly intact; ditto for the skydiver biker--eeeyouch! he wasn't even dented! As for the occult, it would've been nice to have had five minutes more of exposition devoted to the source of that frog cult or have a little more light shed onto Shadwell's identity. Still it's probably best not to look too far into these kinds of movies. Interestingly, some of the talent cast have been in many other films. As another reviewer pointed out, Nicky Henson was in many other films (I saw Conquorer Worm awhile ago, but don't remember him). I happen to be a huge Doctor Who fan, so I recognized John Levine and Beryl Reid from those shows. If you are a fan of the biker horror genre, then by all means go see Werewolves On Wheels as it has many of the same elements: the cheesy song halfway through, the surly biker gang, the nonsensical plot, and an ending even more bizarre than this movie's. But if you like your movies dark side weird, then start with Psychomania!"
B-Horror at it's best
S. Mosier | New York, NY United States | 09/24/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"How could you not enjoy this movie? The music is an awesome score by John Cameron, very psychedelic. You've got bikers commiting suicide, then they are resurected from the dead, perfectly normal. How could you not like a horror movie involving a devilish butler and a toad!"
Warning: scene missing on Geneon DVD
ced | 12/12/2007
(1 out of 5 stars)
"The Geneon edition of this DVD is missing the seance scene. This scene introduces Shadwell and the mom and shows the mom's psychic ablilities, showing what she gets out of Shadwell's presence. So it's kind of important. (It also shows why she's sleeping in a chair.) It's only two or three minutes long, but it shouldn't be missing!!!"