Origin/Director: United Kingdom/Don Sharp
Viewings Tally: This is my third viewing in 4 years. I cannot promote the Letterboxd app enough: It connects you with movie geeks like me around the world and recommends oddities like this one. The cover photo art got me hooked the first time. It looked like an antecedent to Mad Max (1979).
Synopsis: A gang of young people call themselves the Living Dead. They terrorize the population from their small town. After an agreement with the devil, if they kill themselves firmly believing in it, they will survive and gain eternal life. Following their leader, they commit suicide one after the other, but things don’t necessarily turn out as expected… [Letterboxd]
Reely Bernie’s Take: Believe it or not, there’s a soft spot in my heart for this “so bad, it’s good” piece of sleaze. Hopefully, you can read the humor behind the synopsis because Psychomania does not aim to make you laugh; it’s just so hilariously bad that it does. The question is: Did these wavy-haired British chaps think they were making a “scary movie” when they rode around the Walton-on-Thames market center on their bikes in their silly skull helmets?
Just look at the links below. I’m comforted by the fact that I’m not the only person obsessed with who these actors were and where they filmed this little monstrocity. I learned that Walton-on-Thames is a market town on the south bank of the River Thames in the Elmbridge borough of Surrey, England. Oh, and they call it market “centre,” not “center.” (Visiting England is #1 on my “bucket list.” Have any of my UK readers been to these areas?)
Despite the exploitative, mixed-bag, slapdash result, something must be said about the passion that went behind this “project.” Legendary British icon, George Sanders, was embarrassed to be a part of it. It was his last movie because he committed suicide shortly after. His note said he was too “bored.”
That’s how bad Psychomania is: It “bored” one of its actors to suicide.
Well, turn all you want in your grave, Mr. Sanders, because you were part of a horror-cult film that continues to charm with age and a longing to go back in time (and that field where they shot the first scene in between New Road and the M3 Motorway:
Overall, it’s 85 minutes of tolerably cool psychedelic rock music, lamb chop sideburns, plastic Satanic frog medallions, and one-foot jumps at 40 miles per hour, and it’s miraculously not unwatchable. (Well, except for the “Riding Free” burial scene where the source musician is fake strumming to a dubbed guitar song that is obviously plucked, but I digress.)
I was saddened to learn that lead actor, Nicky Henson, passed away last year. I last saw him play Charles Grigg on Downton Abbey. If anything, his smirk in this early 70s gem is worth a viewing.
The Shot that Won’t Let Go:
Final Score: 3 “scary” skull helmets out of 5
Have you seen it? What did you think?
On my way upstairs to watch it last night, I told my wife, “It’s one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen, but it’s that good.” I think that pretty much sums it up.