Written by: Michael Den Boer on February 7th, 2017
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
BluRay released: February 21st, 2017
Approximate running times: 91 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: LPCM Mono English
Subtitles: English SDH
BluRay Release: Arrow Video USA
Region Coding: Region A / Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $29.95
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.
Another area where the film does not quite gel are the performances from its cast. With this film’s standout performance being 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.
Psychomania comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. The source of this film’s transfer is a 2K restoration from preservation negatives and this is the same source as BFI’s region B Blu-Ray / DVD combo. This film underwent an extensive restoration and the end result is a transfer that is vastly superior to all previous home video releases. Grain remains intact and there are no issues with DNR or compression.
This release comes with one audio option, a LPCM mono mix in English and included with this release are removable English SDH subtitles. The audio like the video has underwent an extensive restoration and the audio sounds, clean, clear, balanced and robust when it needs too.
Extras for this release include, a trailer for the film (2 minutes 50 seconds), a featurette titled Restoring Psychomania (1 minute 47 seconds), a featurette on the company who supplied the film s costumes titled Hell for Leather (7 minutes 2 seconds), an archive interview with Riding Free singer Harvey Andrews titled Riding Free (6 minutes 25 seconds), an archive interview with composer John Cameron titled Sound of Psychomania (9 minutes 6 seconds), an archive featurette containing interviews actors Nicky Henson, Mary Larkin, Denis Gilmore, Roy Holder and Rocky Taylor titled Return of the Living Dead (25 minutes 2 seconds) and a brand new interview with actor Nicky Henson (13 minutes 57 seconds).
Topics discussed in the extra titled Riding Free include, his contribution to Psychomania and his thoughts about the first time he saw his song in the film. In this extra he also performs Riding Free.
Topics discussed in the extra titled Sound of Psychomania include, his origins as a composer, background information about his score for Psychomania and other films which he has worked on as a composer.
Topics discussed in the extra titled Return of the Living Dead, each participant origins as an actor, Don Sharp and how their involvement in the making of Psychomania. Other topics related to the film include, riding motorcycles and stunts, George Sanders and his suicide, Beryl Reid and other onset memories.
Though the new interview with Nicky Henson covers many of the topics covered in Return of the Living Dead. There are few insightful topics that are exclusive to this interview.
Rounding out the extras is a reversible cover art and a forty-page booklet with cast & crew information, an interview with Don Sharp, three essays – the first essay titled An Outstanding Appointment with Fear written by Vic Pratt, the second essay is titled The Last Movie: George Sanders and Psychomania written by William Fowler and the third essay is titled Psychomania – Riding Free written by Andrew Roberts and information about the restoration / transfer. Also, included with this release is a DVD that has the same content included on the Blu-Ray included as part of this combo release. Overall Psychomania gets an exceptional release from Arrow Video, highly recommended.