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  • Gareth Crook

Psychomania (1973) - 6/10

Psychomania looks like it might be one of those cult films that’s only a cult film because it’s got a cool visual, some great skull adorned motorcycle helmets. Let’s see though. It’s the early 70s and the squares are scared of devil worshipping and motorcycles, so why not cross the two. I love the start of this film. Motorcycles riding in slow motion around fields with stone circles draped in early evening fog whilst trippy psychedelic rock music plays. The bikes tear off down country lanes with leather clad riders with The Living Dead stencilled on their backs and those skull helmets, running cars off the road, then cavorting in graveyards. Tom (Nicky Henson) is the leader. He’s sick of the world and authority, he wants to cross over to the other side by killing himself, after which he plans to come back and ride forever. He wants his girlfriend Abby (Mary Larkin) to join him. It’s a bonkers idea, one he’s got from his devil worshipping séance leading mother (Beryl Reid) and their age defying butler Shadwell (George Sanders). Their country pile is quite a scene. Shag carpets and bubble TVs, full blown 60s style. It probably didn’t look as kitsch on release, but now it’s clearly part of its charm. It’s like a dumbed down cheeky A Clockwork Orange, with a nod toward the spiritual rather than social darkness. In a secret locked room in the house, Tom discovers a mirror that shows him his mother making a deal with the devil. It’s a bit muddled but this is supposed to ready him for his rebirth. I think. Anyway, with his new death wish, Tom is hell bent on mischief. Terrorising shoppers, getting chased by the fuzz and generally engaging in one long advert for motorbikes. The bike scenes are pretty good and do look quite exhilarating, even with far fewer cars on the road back then. Nevertheless, Tom gets his way and goes out with a bang and gets buried sat bolt upright on his bike while the group who look like hippies without their leathers, lay floral wreaths and play meaningful folk songs “Come join his company, riding free”. It’s quite a thing to behold and impossible to watch without chuckling. It’s of its time shall we say, but there’s some nice stuff. Tom bursting from his grave being one. There’s some duff stuff too, like reusing the same shots several times. Which funny at first, soon starts to grate. Soon more of the gang are topping themselves in increasingly inventive fashion and coming back. Even though they didn’t go in the special room and have visions of frogs, but let’s not get bogged down. The question is can Tom’s rampage be stopped and can he convince Abby to join him. Despite its many flaws, it’s a fun watch and more than just the cool helmets.


6/10


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