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Psychomania - Geneon - DVD Print E-mail
User Rating: / 2
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Written by Jay Creepy   
Friday, 21 December 2012
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Psychomania Geneon DVD Artwork on Severed Cinema
DVD

AKA: Der Frosch, The Death Wheelers, The Frog, The Living Dead, To diplo prosopo tou dolofonou

Directed by:
Don Sharp
Written by:
Arnauld Usseau, Julian Zimet
Produced by:
Andrew Donally
Cinematography by:
Ted Moore
Editing by:
Richard Best
Music by:
John Cameron
Special Effects by:
Pat Moore
Cast:
Nicky Henson, George Sanders, Beryl Reid, Mary Larkin, Ann Michelle, Roy Holder, Denis Gilmore
Year:
1973
Country:
UK
Language:
English
Color:
Color
Runtime:
1h 25min

Distributor: Geneon

Before I start typing the meat of this review I will confess to everyone that this film is in my top 10 of all time simply because when I watched it in the early eighties it really left a lasting impression on me and if anything the music started me listening to wah wah guitar funky tracks.  That being said I am a professional (???!!!) so I will attempt to bring you a balanced review.

"Psychomania" may not be everyone's version of sanity -- you may watch it and find yourself smirking slightly in mirror image to lead man Nicky Henson because you truly are unsure what the hell you are watching.  It's been noted before when reviewed in the past that there's never been a film quite like it and perhaps there never will be again.

The film opens with an eerie title sequence as we watch British bikers slow-mo around a misty graveyard, whilst the first cords of what becomes a 'stick in your head' theme tune lights up your world.  It's an atmospheric steady violin hum accompanied by a classy 'wah wah' guitar which was a staple of cinema around that time.  The way the tune is performed makes you think that the session musicians deeply believed they would make it big.  (Yes, I do have the soundtrack cause I'm a geek for this movie.)  The gang are called The Living Dead as if to give you a little nudge as to where the movie's gonna take you and they have really stiff upper lip accents -- well mainly their leader Tom played by Nicky Henson.  Their day to day life is simply having a jolly good time farting about the countryside and villages on rubbishy little motorbikes making cars crash, old bean, haw haw.

Tom soon discovers from his mother, played by UK acting legend Beryl Reid (in a very rare horror role), a foolproof way to return from the dead.  It seems that you have to commit suicide but the tester is you truly must believe you will come back.  On their next ride about the country lanes, Tom crashes in front of his girlfriend and is DOA.

At his funeral we  must suffer a heartfelt dire and deranged folk song from one of the gang which will make your ears cry out “Please let me die!” for months.  (Don't say I never treat you, for here it is!  Follow the link if you dare!!  It's called Riding Free by the way.)  Tom is buried on his bike infamously with his head sticking out too far above the level of the hole.  George (Shere Khan of "Jungle Book," and Mr. Freeze from the original "Batman" TV series) Sanders arrives, he plays Tom's Mum's butler/waiter/whatever posh evil guy in a suit, Shadwell.  He proceeds to throw an ornamental toad in the hole (pardon the pun) with Tom.

Soon enough in fact the very next day Tom bursts forth from his grave running over some poor ugly bloke in an even uglier sweater.  Tom must be happy that his friends didn't take the fuel from his bike.  Oh well, hang on, maybe they only left a trickle because he has to stop and fill up.  Think an immortal man wants to pay for it?  Nope.

Thus begins the whole gang's transformation into the real living dead through awesome variations of suicide.  Trust me, their imaginations on how to snuff it are truly a highlight in this film and the funky soundtrack adds shovel loads of fun to it.  One member doesn't return because at the last minute he doubts, but check out Tom's girlfriend Abby; she's so vanilla she tries overdosing and gets saved.  Now she's all scared of Tom and the gang as they kill police officers, destroy supermarkets and generally sneer at everyone.  You could say because she's a girl, but watch how Jane (Ann Michelle) gets right into the violence and sadism.  Come on, you're dead, you can only live forever!

It takes Beryl Reid (did I mention that Tom's mum is a white witch or something and that Shadwell might be the Devil himself?) and her jaw dropping act of self sacrifice, which I cannot explain here otherwise you'll ask me about the smiling mushrooms I have growing in my ceiling as well, to put things right.

"Psychomania" is a time capsule from an era of British Cinema that was short lived but generally excellent.  It is an up-tempo modernised style which was the obvious UK direction as Hammer started to fade and Amicus grabbed the market with more wilder (though not always good) material.  The music, the whole feel of this film is pure genius and the script, though full of those “Ha ha look at that” moments, is in a class of its own.

The budget had to rely on imagination rather than gratuous effects and shocks and some of the acting talents look like they've just been hired from either an advert or just off the street.  You know what?  I wouldn't have it any other way.   A little note -- the effects guy also worked on the original "Italian Job" and "The Railway Children"... Cool.

Let's fast forward to the new millenium and about two years ago I chanced upon an interview with none other than Nicky Henson on YouTube where he watches the film for the first time in years.  His opinion?  “It's crap.”  Yes Nicky and so is your below-the-radar British TV career since "Psychomania!"  Well apart from a role in the Jason Statham vehicle "Blitz" that is.  What a dickhead.

A more unfortunate infamy attached to the film involves George Sanders who, after a career which began in the forties, killed himself almost directly after "Psychomania" wrapped up.  How's that for an eerie true story?

DVD releases for this are usually lacking extras.  The one I used for this (Geneon) doesn't even have a scene selection but has a menu at least.  However, Severin have brought one out which features interviews with some of the cast (Nicky Henson, Denis Gilmore, Mary Larkin, and others) and crew including the musicians especially John Cameron the composer (and apparently Harvey Andrews is also interviewed regarding Riding Free).

Psychomania screenshot on Severed Cinema

CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE
Psychomania screenshot on Severed Cinema

Psychomania screenshot on Severed Cinema

Psychomania screenshot on Severed Cinema

Psychomania screenshot on Severed Cinema

Psychomania screenshot on Severed Cinema

Psychomania screenshot on Severed Cinema

Psychomania screenshot on Severed Cinema

Psychomania screenshot on Severed Cinema

Psychomania screenshot on Severed Cinema

Psychomania screenshot on Severed Cinema

Psychomania screenshot on Severed Cinema

Psychomania screenshot on Severed Cinema

 RATING:
 VIDEO: 1 
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 AUDIO: 1 
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 DVD: 1 
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 MOVIE: 1 
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 DVD SPECS:
 Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
 Region: NTSC R1
 Audio: English Dolby Digital Mono 2.0


 SUPPLEMENTAL MATERIAL:
 - N/A

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3.22 Copyright (C) 2007 Alain Georgette / Copyright (C) 2006 Frantisek Hliva. All rights reserved."

Last Updated ( Friday, 21 December 2012 )
 
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