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Psychomania (1972)

Everyone's entitled to change their mind, and this film, which until recently I had consigned to the rubbish heap of history, has now rocketed into my top 10 films list.

Why? Well sit still and I'll tell you...

It's a top slice of 70s kitsch, seemingly unaware of its campness and a lot of fun.

It's got some great chase scenes in it.

It makes no sense at all.

Nicky Henson is Tom, the leader of a motorcycle gang called The Living Dead, who terrorise the Home Counties and hang around some standing stones called The Seven Witches.

His mum is Beryl Reid, a medium, whose butler appears to be some kind of emmissary for the devil.

Tom would rather hunt for frogs than shag Abby, his bird. She's understandably narked: "Tom... you're not human! Sometimes you scare me!"

Looking at her face, it should really be the other way round, but I digress... Anyway, Tom replies "It's not me that scares you... it's the world!" and then puts forward his theory about coming back from the dead, which is half-arsed, to say the least. If it was that easy, surely everyone would be doing it?

Back home, after delivering the frog, he asks his mum's butler, Shadwell:"Why did my father die in that locked room? Why do you never get any older? And what is the secret of the living dead?" Don't beat around the bush, Tom, come out and say what you mean...

He then has a bit of a dance with his mum in her cool 70s pad, before she allows him access to said locked room, where he puts on a pair of child molester glasses, loses his reflection (careless) and sees his life in flashback... all of it connected to those standing stones...

Well, as you can imagine, by this point I was shitting myself. This seems to make up Tom's mind, and he takes his gang on a destructive spree, you know - driving fast through floods, ignoring road works, kicking over cones, tidying up shopping carts and stealing brollies. Real hell's angels stuff.

At the end of this he does "the ton" on his bike, crashes off a bridge and dies. The gang bury him upright on his bike, and he comes screaming back to life a couple of days later, then starts bumping off the local populace and convincing his gang that in order to come back from the dead, you only have to believe you will. And they believe him!

The body count in this film is huge - gang members bump themselves off and kill what must amount to most of the town, including every policeman who gets in their way. But there's no blood at all.

Favourite bit: Two gang members ride their bikes into the police station where the rest of the gang are incarcerated. A woman on her way out of the building asks politely: "Shall I close the door?" To which the policeman on the front desk (Doctor Who's Sgt Benton) replies: "Yes please, love." Sheer class.

Director: Don Sharp Writer(s): Julian Zimet, Arnaud d'Usseau

Cast: Nicky Henson - Tom, Mary Larkin - Abby, 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, Larry Taylor - Lorry driver


Last updated: February 25, 2010

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