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DVD Review: Psychomania (1971)

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Psychomania (1971)

Directed by Don Sharp

DVD Review: Psychomania (1971)Psychomnia

What can I say? 

I love it. 

If movies about violent zombie biker gangs are your sort of thing then you might like it too.

There are no special features or hidden extras on this DVD, by the way, so I will tell you that up front. In fact there isn't even a menu screen. Once the disc is inserted there are a few intro-screens and then the movie just plays automatically. But that's okay because it's a great movie.

The first scene shows a gang of bikers riding around a stone circle, in the fog. It is quite an eerie-looking sequence and when the music kicks in it only adds to the effect. Whoever chose the soundtrack for this movie chose it well, it's perfect.

The gang are called The Living Dead and their leader is a guy called Tom Latham (played by Nicky Henson) and The Living Dead don't seem to have an ounce of respect for anything or anyone. They are extremely violent and cause mayhem wherever they go, forcing cars off the road, and riding through pedestrian districts and knocking people over like skittles. And that's just in the first few minutes of the movie. The Living Dead are not nice people, and yet, as you view the movie, it is hard not to like them.

Tom lives in a large house with his mother (played by Beryl Reid). She is a medium, and from the first moment the camera shows her, sitting at a table and surrounded by black candles, it is apparent that she is no stranger to the black arts. The only other person in the house is the family's mysterious butler, Shadwell.

Tom has an unhealthy obsession with the idea of dying and then returning from the dead. The fact that neither his mother nor Shadwell ever seem to get any older, may, or may not, be the reason for this, but it certainly fuels Tom's interest. Tom is also extremely keen to learn what secrets are hidden behind the door of a locked room in the house—the same room his father died inside.

Although Tom's mother is not keen on him entering the room, when Shadwell provides him with a protective amulet, she grants her son's wish.

Once inside the room, Tom experiences what can best be described as being some very strange shit,  and, unable to get out of the room, he passes out. In the next scene he is still unconscious and lying on the sofa. Thinking that he is still out for the count Mrs Latham and Shadwell discuss the secret of returning from the dead. Only to hear the words: "Thank you mother." They turn and see a very smug Tom standing with his arms folded in front of him.

Tom is doing a ton when his bike crashes through the railings of the bridge and down into the river below. The gang are mortified and Tom's girlfriend, Abbey, asks for Mrs Latham's permission to bury him in their own way. With her permission they do just that. They dig a hole inside the stone circle, known locally as The Seven Witches, and bury him there, still sitting on his bike. Before they cover him up with the cold, cruel dirt they sit very hippy-like, singing songs and making wreaths of flowers.

The scene where Tom rides his bike out of the ground is absolute class—excellent! He's back, he's as bad as ever and now he's indestructible too. He manages to cause enough trouble on his own, and goes on a mini-killing spree, but when he shares his secret with the gang, the trouble is tenfold—psychotic zombie bikers all revved up and raring to go.

Psychomania is one of my all time favorite horror movies. It has a great soundtrack—although it is a little distorted in places—it's a good storyline, and a very capable cast. Nicky Henson is perfect in his role as the leader of the gang and Beryl Reid is an excellent choice as the mother of the man that would be dead. She seems both maternal and sinister at the same time (no easy feat).  If you decide to watch the movie keep an eye out for a young Robert Hardy (Siegfried from All Creatures Great and Small) playing one of the police detectives.

Psychomania is a horror movie and it is quite violent at times, but it was made in the 70s, so it is still pretty tame by modern standards. In fact, now I come to think of it, I can't remember seeing a single spot of blood anywhere in the movie. Psychomania works just fine without it though. You can have horror without blood, believe it or not, much of the horror element in Psychomania comes from the dark atmosphere created by the soundtrack, the actor's portrayal of their roles, and the way the full shebang was filmed—somebody knew what they were doing and did it well.

DVD Review: Psychomania (1971)

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Even with all of the violence and horror, Psychomania still manages to find space for a little humour and some of the scenes are quite surreal. So violence, horror, and few laughs too, this movie really does seem to have it all, but I suppose it won't be to everyone's taste. Me though, I love it. Love it. Love it. But I think I already said that.


Nicky Henson        ... Tom Latham
Mary Larkin          ... Abby Holman
Ann Michelle         ... Jane
Roy Holder            ... Bertram
Denis Gilmore        ... Hatchet
Miles Greenwood   ... Chopped Meat
Peter Whitting        ... Gash
Rocky Taylor         ... Hinky
Robert Hardy         ... Chief Inspector Hesseltine
Patrick Holt           ... Sergeant
Alan Bennion         ... Constable
John Levene           ... Constable
Beryl Reid              ... Mrs. Latham
George Sanders      ... Shadwell
Jacki Webb            ... Mother
David Millett           ... Father
Linda Gray             ... Grandmother
Andrew Laurence    ... Grandfather
Roy Evans               ... Motorist
Bill Pertwee             ... Publican
Seretta Wilson         ... Stella
Denis Carey             ... Coroner's Assistant
Stanley Stewart        ... Petrol Pump Attendant
Lane Meddick          ... Mr. Pettibone
June Brown              ... Mrs. Pettibone
Ann Murray               ... Motorist
Fiona Kendall             ... Monica
Ernest C. Jennings       ... Blind Man
Martin Boddey             ... Coroner
Heather Wright             ... Girl with Parcels
Penny Leatherbarrow    ... Woman in Police Station  

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