Written by: Michael Den Boer on October 21st, 2010
Theatrical Release Date: UK, 1973
Director: Don Sharp
Writers: Julian Zimet, Arnaud d’Usseau
Cast: Nicky Henson, Mary Larkin, Ann Michelle, Roy Holder, Denis Gilmore, Miles Greenwood, Peter Whitting, Rocky Taylor, George Sanders, Jacki Webb
DVD released: October 26th, 2010
Approximate running time: 90 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Severin Films
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.98
Synopsis: A motorcycle gang that has entered into a suicide pact comes back to life and terrorize those who get in their way.
Psychomania was directed by Don Sharp, who’s other notable film’s include The Kiss of the Vampire, Curse of the Fly and Rasputin: The Mad Monk. The screenplay for Psychomania was co-written by Julian Zimet and Arnaud d’Usseau, who also co-wrote the screenplay for Horror Express. The cinematographer on Psychomania was Ted Moore, who’s other notable credits as a cinematographer include seven James Bond films, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger, Clash of Titans and A Man for All Seasons (for which he won an Academy Award).
From a premise stand point Psychomania is easily the most bizarre biker gang film that has ever been unleashed on the public. There are many elements in this film that require a leap of faith from the viewer. Most notably the how someone is able to come back from the dead. If they really believe that is it possible to do so at the moment of their death. Besides the living dead angle. The film also features a frog worshiping cult that is lead by a mild mannered butler Shadwell.
Trying to mix horror and comedy is a very tricky proposition and this film does it with mixed results. Another area where the film does not quite gel are the performances from its cast. The only performance that leaves any lasting impression is Nicky Henson (Witchfinder General) in the role of Tom Latham, the leader of the biker gang. He gives a brooding performance of a young man who is consumed by his angst. Another performance of note is George Sanders (All About Eve) in the role of Shadwell. This would mark his final screen appearance. He would commit suicide shortly after completing this film.
The shortcomings of the plot aside. Where this film really excels are its stylish cinematography, moody score and rock solid stunt work. In a film that has many standout moments visually. The most iconic moment involves Tom Latham leaping out from his grave while riding his motorcycle.
Severin Films presents Psychomania in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the film’s original aspect ratio. The film opens with a disclaimer from Severin Film’s which explains that the original negative is believed to have been lost and that they worked with the best available 35mm elements that they could locate. Colors on a whole look pretty good with only a few instances where the colors look a tad funky. Flesh tones look accurate, black levels fare well and details look generally crisp throughout. Even though there is print damage, it is minimal. It should be noted for this release for the film is presented in a variable aspect ratios where it changes from a 1.78:1 to a 1.66:1. This changing of aspect ratio’s is subtle enough that most viewers should not find it distracting.
This release comes with one audio option, a Dolby Digital mono mix in English. Background noise is minimal and dialog is always clear. The film’s score benefits most from this audio mix.
Extras for this release include a trailer for the film (2 minutes 50 seconds – anamorphic widescreen), a enthusiastic introduction to the film from Fangoria editor Chris Alexander (5 minutes 30 seconds – anamorphic widescreen), a interview with singer Harvey Andrews who sings the song Riding Free (6 minutes 26 seconds – anamorphic widescreen), a interview with composer John Cameron (9 minutes 6 seconds – anamorphic widescreen) and a making of documentary titled ‘Return of the Living Dead’ (25 minutes 4 seconds – anamorphic widescreen), which includes comments from actors Nicky Henson, Roy Holder, Denis Gilmore, Rocky Taylor and actress Mary Larkin. All the interviews with the cast and crew are exceptional as they do a superb job cover the various aspects of this production. Also there is a Easter Egg which can be accessed via the extras menu. Overall Psychomania gets a first rate DVD release from Severin Films.