Sometimes you go into a movie expecting one thing, and you end up with something completely different. Psychomania is one such film where after reading the synopsis, I expected a film where zombie bikers rode around munching on people, but instead what I got was a wacky flick with witches, frogs and bikers wanting to live forever so that they could ride around and terrorise people. Psychomania wasn’t what I thought it was going to be, yet I still had an excellent time with it, as the film is a trippy ride into 70s British horror. Also, the amount of effort that Arrow Video put into restoring this cult film is something to behold.
DISCS: 2 (1 DVD, 1 Blu-ray) RUN-TIME: 90 min ASPECT RATIO: 1.66:1 RESOLUTION: 1080p AUDIO: LPCM Mono LANGUAGE: English SUBTITLES: English SDH REGION: A RATING: NR PRODUCTION DATE: 1973 RELEASE DATE: Feb 21, 2017
The United States gave motorcycle-mad cinemagoers Easy Rider, The Wild One and The Wild Angels. The United Kingdom gave them Psychomania, the tale of zombie bikers run amok is southern England. The Living Dead are a delinquent biker gang, fond of causing havoc on British roadways and making out in graveyards. Gang leader Tom (Nicky Henson) also has a Satanist for a mother, and when he discovers the secret of immortality, the name of his motley crew takes on a more literal meaning… Directed by Hammer veteran Don Sharp (The Kiss of the Vampire, The Devil-Ship Pirates) and co-starring Beryl Reid (Dr. Phibes Rises Again) and George Sanders (Village of the Damned), Psychomania is a wonderfully offbeat gem, outlandish and eccentric in equal measure.
The plot for Psychomania is a bit on the disjointed side of hell. What I can gather from watching the movie is that the leader of The Living Dead Biker Gang, Tom, is profoundly interested in the occult and wanting to live forever (he also has an unhealthy obsession with frogs). The reason he is so into all this wacky stuff is that his mother made a deal with the devil to live forever and now Tom wants to know how to do it. It turns out you need to want to come back from death and not be afraid to die. One moment of hesitation at the time of death can send you packing off into the afterlife.
Tom learns of this ability and immediately sets out to return from the dead and ends up succeeding. Without the fear of death, he can terrorise people with no repercussions. His biker gang members also want to join in on the fun, but the only one hesitant is the one Tom wants the most, his girlfriend, Abby. Will Tom be able to convince her or will he have to settle with more frogs?
Psychomania is not the zombie movie the back cover was touting it as, but it certainly doesn’t make it a bad film because of that. Instead, the film’s story deals with witches, satanic rituals and the problems with living forever. Also, it has a scene of a biker chick running over a baby stroller, with crying baby inside, in a crowded grocery store. I kid you not.
It is unfortunate that there wasn’t more mayhem in Psychomania, though, as the film takes quite a while for the rest of the biker gang to join in on the fun and once things start to go crazy, the film ends.
Nevertheless, from the opening fog filled shots of the English countryside to the leather clad psychotic bikers, Psychomania is an easy film to recommend for horror lovers.
You just need to watch the special feature Remastering Psychomania to see how much work Arrow Video put into restoring Psychomania. It truly is amazing to think of how good the film came out looking based on what material Arrow Video had to work with. The video transfer does show signs of wear and tear and colour fluctuations, but when you factor the work done to bring back the picture to its former glory, you can’t fault them for a few issues here and there. The same goes for the LPCM Mono track, that is appropriately loud and clear.
As for the special features, Arrow Video fills up the disc with a few new features, such as the new interview with Nicky Henson and singer Harvey Andrews. It’s also kind of interesting to check out the Hell for Leather feature to see the shop that supplied the cast with their biker duds. I think, however, that the best feature was the quick look at the remastering work done on the film. It’s only a little over a minute long, but you get to see the just how much work Arrow did on it. It is, however, strange to not have any audio commentary, as Arrow Video usually gathers up someone to talk about the film. At least we get a nice booklet (first pressing only) that has some excellent in-depth articles on the movie.
2K restoration from preservation negatives
High Definition (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
Original 1.0 mono audio (uncompressed on the Blu-ray)
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
Brand-new interview with star Nicky Henson
Return of the Living Dead, an archive featurette containing interviews actors Henson, Mary Larkin, Denis Gilmore, Roy Holder and Rocky Taylor
Sound of Psychomania, an archive interview with composer John Cameron
Riding Free, an archive interview with ‘Riding Free’ singer Harvey Andrews
Hell for Leather, a brand-new featurette on the company who supplied the film’s costumes
Remastering Psychomania, a look at the film’s restoration from the original 35mm black and white separation masters
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by the Twins of Evil
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Collector’s booklet containing writing by Vic Pratt, William Fowler and Andrew Roberts
I would be lying to say I wasn’t disappointed the movie Psychomania wasn’t about rotting zombie bikers, but the story I did get was interesting enough to keep me glued to the screen. The gothic like tale was interesting, even if the story was light on the explanation. The biggest highlight, though, is the remastering done by Arrow Video to bring Psychomania out on Blu-ray and because of that, I highly recommend checking it out.