DVD region 0. Severin Films.
by critics but adored by a generation of fans who grew up watching
the film in disbelief on TV, Psychomania is part
of a small sub-genre – the zombie biker film (others include
Chopper Chicks in Zombietown and the early shot-on-video
effort Bikers Vs The Undead). In spirit, Psychomania
is closer to the 1970's New English Library pulp novels of Mick
Norman, Peter Cave and others, who presented a very British version
of the Hell’s Angels in a series of short, punchy novels
that were light on literary merit but heavy on sex, drugs, violence
and action – just the thing for thrill seeking teenage readers.
A few of these novels - Alex R. Stuart’s The Bike
From Hell for instance – touched on the supernatural,
and it’s easy to imagine Psychomania as
such a novel. Like them, it’s cheap, trashy, devoid of any
artistic saving graces – and pretty entertaining.
The film follows the adventures of a particularly lame and laughably
polite British biker gang – The Living Dead – whose
exploits consist mostly of making a nuisance of themselves in
shopping centres. Gang leader (the frightfully middle class Nicky
Henson) discovers that his mother (Beryl Reid) has the secret
of eternal life – all he has to do is kill himself with
the absolute belief that he’ll return to life. He tries
it out and is successful, and it isn’t long before the rest
of the gang follow suit, freeing them to continue to wreak the
mild havoc they were causing before (by modern standards, they
probably wouldn’t even qualify for an ASBO).
an embarrassed looking George Sanders – who killed himself
shortly afterwards, possibly inspired by the pro-suicide message
of the movie – and Brit Sleaze queen Ann Michelle, Psychomania
is, of course, by most standards rubbish – but entertaining
rubbish nonetheless. The best bit of the film are the genuinely
eerie opening titles, though fans of cheesy horror will find plenty
more to their taste in this. The bike stunts are actually pretty
impressive, Don Sharp directs with his usual efficiency and John
Cameron's score is a wonderful slice of moody prog-psychedelia
- unquestionably one of the film scores of the decade.
DVD sweeps aside all previous versions, not only featuring a tasty
new transfer of the movie but also a fistful of special features.
There are three excellent featurettes. The longest has cast members
Henson, Mary Larkin, Denis Gilmore, Roy Holder and Rocky Taylor
discussing their work on the film. Henson in particular is pretty
dismissive - though frankly this movie probably has more fans
than any of his 'serious' theatre work - but the stories are entertaining
and it's an excellent little documentary. equally fun are the
two music featurettes - Cameron discussing (and playing) his sore
and singer-songwriter Harvey Andrews explaining how he ended up
singing someone else's song (and then seeing it mimed to by a
'pretty boy' actor) in the movie (if you haven't heard Riding
Free, then you're in for a treat!). There's also
a somewhat disposable introduction from Fangoria editor Chris
Alexander and the original trailer to round out the disc.
great to see a much loved cult classic finally getting the VIP
treatment on DVD. Psychomania is finally revved
up and ready to rock!
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