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The Strange Things Boutique




DVD region 0. Severin Films.

PsychomaniaDismissed 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).

PsychomaniaCo-starring 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.

Severin's 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.

it's 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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