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Psychomania (2-Disc Special Edition) [Blu-ray + DVD]
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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.
SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS:
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Collector s booklet containing writing by Vic Pratt, William Fowler and Andrew Roberts
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Top Customer Reviews
The plot involves a motorcycle gang of bored young people called The Living Dead who get the opportunity to become just that. It seems that if you commit suicide really believing that you'll come back, then you do and you're immortal. Of course they need help from the Devil and some occult rituals involving toads. The surreal scene where the bike leader sees his life in reverse through a magic mirror in a room with no doors is a highlight. The script misses no opportunity to cast a jaded eye on teenage suicide, occult worship, meaningless violence and a lack of respect for authority while the biker scenes provides the audience with cheap thrills a-plenty. The ending is a real stunner. Not a movie for everyone and definitely not your average horror film which it was wrongly marketed as. This new release from Severin Films is outstanding and makes the film look better than it probably did on its original release. The 2010 interviews with stars Nicky Henson and Mary Larkin are a real hoot.
This movie also goes by the name of 'The Death Wheelers' and 'The Living Dead.'
I had previously watched this movie a few years earlier in standard DVD format.
This is an excellent release and fans of the movie will definitely want this.
I give this release 'only' 4 stars because I just don't feel the movie itself was a good enough movie to rate the release 5 stars. So let's call it it 3 stars for the movie and 5 stars for presentation(picture quality and extra's) for an average of 4 stars.
So basically if it's only the picture quality and extra's you care about then go ahead and give it 5 stars.
BLU-RAY: The picture quality is decent though not fantastic. This probably has more to do with the way the movie was filmed as opposed to a poor job by Arrow. This release has both the standard and high definition versions.
EXTRA'S: A big positive is quite a few extra's. However I felt that the 'Return of the Living Dead' featurette was easily the best of the extra's.
The extra's included are:
Return of the Living Dead - A featurette on the making of 'Psychomania.' This was made somewhere around 2010 and features interviews with many of the actors from the movie.
Interview with Nicky Henson - This is a very recent interview. Arrow gets a thumbs up for including it but the interview is essentially unnecessary. If you watched the 'Return of the Living Dead' featurette first you will get almost no new information. Henson basically tells the exact same stories that he told in his 2010 interview. Off the top of my head the only thing I noticed that was new was his story about his kids. I'll give the producers the benefit of the doubt and assume that they had not seen the previous interview or surely they would have asked Henson to tell them some other stories or included other snippets.
Sound of Psychomania - An interview with the composter John Cameron.
Riding Free - An interview with the writer of the song 'Riding Free,' by Harvey Andrews. What I learned here was that Andrews voice was dubbed into the movie and the song was not sung by the actor singing in the movie.
Hell for Leather - A short featurette on the company that provided the outfits for the movie.
Remastering Psychomania - A short featurette, self-explanatory.
Booklet - There is a nice booklet included which is nicely done.
Finally, there is a trailer and subtitles are included.
While some of the above featurette's are not all that exciting I still consider it a big positive for anything that adds to the knowledge of how the movie was made. So for that, Arrow a gets plaudits.
PLOT/SUMMARY: Tom Latham (Nicky Henson) is a leader of an English biker gang called 'The Living Dead.' Tom lives with his well to do mother (Beryl Reid) and their butler, Shadwell (George Sanders from The Village of the Damned...this would be his final movie). Tom's mother is a medium and speaks to the dead with assistance from Shadwell. Shadwell, we find out early on has something to do with either Satan, evil, sorcery or all of the above. He shows an aversion to the cross.
Nicky inquires about his father who died about the time when he was born. There is a secret room in their mansion that is kept locked. He is given the key. He enters and then has troubling visions and passes out.
Nicky now believes that all he has to do is believe that he is going to come back from the dead and he will. So he promptly goes and kills himself. After he is buried with his motorcycle he comes riding out of his grave. He tells the gang members what has happened and they agree to do the same thing. We find out that you must believe you are coming back from the dead or you won't. If you have any doubts at the time of your death then you will stay dead. Once you come back you are basically immortal, like a zombie or 'the living dead' if you will (thus, the gang's name).
The gang does very little destruction despite their intentions. The harass people and mess up a supermarket. Most of the killings they commit take place 'off screen.' They are either implied or we are told of them.
Tom insists that his girlfriend Abby joins him and his fellow 'living dead.' Abby fails once and Tom gives her an ultimatum which brings us to the climax of the movie.
THOUGHTS/OBSERVATIONS: I enjoyed this movie even though it is obviously not a great movie.
There was, in my opinion, one truly startling scene. That was when the police chief and his fellow officers end up in the morgue taking the place of 'The Living Dead' members. This caught me off guard and came as a bit of a shock as it was so unexpected. I thought at the time that it was just a matter of time before the chief solved the crimes.
It was never made clear exactly what the connection was between frogs and the afterlife, at least to me. This left me a bit confused. Especially the ending. I was never really quite sure what happened there. I haven't checked to see if the movie was based on a story or book.
Nicky's death scene was very poorly thought out. I know they wanted a different death for each person but riding a bike into the river is just not quite the way to go. There would be no instantaneous death that way. He would have been better off riding in front of a train or any of a million other ways.
I felt that the main idea of being brought back to life just because you believed you would come back was a bit far fetched...for more than just the obvious reasons! If they were going to go with that premise they should have at least tied it to some sort of sorcery or talisman not just your belief.
I always wonder, in movies where people are immortal, what would happen if they got their heads cut off or legs. Then again, I am probably getting 'too deep' for a movie of this type.
George Sanders commited suicide shortly after making this movie. There are rumors that he had a copy of the movie in his home at the time and he may have just finished viewing it. Some jokingly say that had something to do with it but it is unclear and probably not true.
Despite the sensational title of the movie....you never get the feeling that the biker gang depicted is all that 'psycho.' They just don't give off a rugged appearance and at times actually appear more effeminate than dangerous.
RECOMMENDATIONS: Highly recommended for fans of the move. Also recommended for fans of the genre.
To rehash what I said at the top, I give it 5 stars for extra's, 3 stars for the movie. I give 4 stars for the picture which I felt could have been crisper but since I have no expertise in film quality and restoration I will give the benefit of the doubt and assume that it can't look any better due to the way the movie was originally filmed.
Thanks to Arrow for this excellent release.
I have loved this horrible movie for years. It is a cult classic meaning that it is by no means Academy Award material but great fun if you enjoy old horror films. However I will say that the version I have access to via Amazon Streaming has a massively bad problem with the audio track being out of sync by about 1 or more seconds when it reaches the midway point of the film.