Saturday, October 1, 2022

junior kickstart.

It's 1st October which means another excruciatingly bad 31 Days of Horror selection from me in a sad attempt to get any new (or just any) readers....

To be fair tho' this is actually a bloody good movie and probably as entertaining as the blog will get in the next 4 weeks.



Psychomania (AKA The Death Wheelers -1973).

Dir: Don Sharp.

Cast: George Sanders, Beryl Reid, Nicky Henson, Mary Larkin, Roy Holder, Robert Hardy, Ann Michelle, Denis Gilmore, Miles Greenwood, Peter Whitting, Rocky Taylor, Patrick Holt, Alan Bennion, John Levene, Roy Evans, Bill Pertwee, Denis Carey, June Brown, Martin Boddey and Heather (Inseminoid) Wright as The Girl with Parcels.

"You can only die once, after that nothing and nobody can harm you!"
Floppy fringed, leather clad, posh-boy leader of the home counties hardest biker gang The Living Dead, Tom Latham (film and TV stalwart Henson) is bored with his carefree life of chugging around on a motorbike, causing havoc at the local shopping arcade and occasionally scaring cows whilst racing along the A344 outside Walton-on-Thames, Surrey so decides, with the - begrudging - help of his mum (the legendary Reid) and her suavely sinister (or should that be sinisterly suave?) butler, Shadwell (cinema stalwart and chicken chef Sanders) to become immortal. 

Luckily Tom’s dad was a wizard or something and had already discovered this secret but died (for good) whilst attempting it due to being allergic to frogs, which was unfortunate as a frog is essential to the ritual.

But now it's Tom's turn so armed with a magical frog-shaped amulet he enters the mysterious room of death to confront the terrifying full-length mirror of fear.

No, really.

Turns out that the secret is that you really, really, REALLY have to want to come back from the dead for it to work.

Oh yes and not be scared of frogs obviously.

Tom being incredibly macho completes the ritual with ease and the next day rides his bike into the oncoming traffic to prove it, instantly killing him.

To death.

As requested Tom is buried - sitting atop his bike - in the middle of a stone circle up the road from his house and from where, later that eve, he bursts forth and rides off into the night to terrorize a group of darts players at a nearby pub before kissing - then killing - a lady.

What a rotter.


Sandwich in mah mooth!


As you can imagine the rest of his gang are pretty excited to see him alive and well and - after a wee bit of supernatural chat - all agree to kill themselves in order to live forever, free from pain, fashion and consequences.

A wee bit like Brexiteers if I'm honest.

One by one, the Living Dead finally get to live up to their gang name as, in a series of cunning stunts that would make Michael Crawford green with envy, Tom's pals start jumping from tower blocks (much to Mary, Mungo and Midge's disgust), throwing themselves out of planes without parachutes, driving off bridges and drowning themselves in ponds weighed down with comedy chains and wearing tiny pants.

Which is all well and good but makes you realize just how bloody lucky they all are to come back in one piece and not hideously burned or mangled. 

Knowing my luck I'd rise from the dead with my feet on backwards or something.


"French polishers? You may have just saved my life!"

Not everyone is happy with the situation tho', Tom's mum is worried about the satanic repercussions of having an undead son and his fairly forgettable - and frightfully posh - girlfriend Abby (Ex Darling Bud and future romantic author Larkin) is having second thoughts about killing herself as she reckons it may ruin her chances of becoming a nursery nurse.

So with this in mind she contacts the gruff but fair Chief Inspector Hesseltine (Hardy, nuff said) who has been busy trying to catch the corpsey crims.


"Boiled onions!"


Luckily for Tom tho', his saucy second-in-command, Jane (horror stalwart and sister of Vicki, Michelle), is well up for some undead fun - whether it be by hanging herself from a tree to scare Abby, running over a baby in the local Safeway or murdering Doctor Who’s Sgt Benton in a police station lobby, Michelle might not steal the film but she at least gives it a good goosing when no-one is looking.

But as all this motorbike-based mayhem continues Tom's mum is starting to get a wee bit worried about what her local neighbourhood seance club might think about his satanic shenanigans as the police - alongside Abby formulate a trap to catch terrible Tom....


From Don Sharp, the man behind the Hammer non-Dracula vampire flick The Kiss of the Vampire (which I can be ever thankful to for introducing a teen me to the wonderfully exotic - as in Scottish - Isobel Black) as well as the first two Christopher Lee Fu Manchu movies (as well as tonnes of other stuff that I can't be arsed listing, I mean come on it's not a shopping list), comes Britain's answer to Easy Rider only this time with added satanism, massive comedy helmets, copious amounts of club sandwiches and the biggest cast of 70s TeeVee celebs this side of a Christmas Woolworths ad.

I mean where else would you find Roy (Sorry!) Holder, Robert (All Creatures Great and Small) Hardy, Ann (Come Back Mrs. Noah) Michelle, Denis (Crossroads) Gilmore, Patrick (Emmerdale) Holt, Alan (Doctor Who's Ice Warrior supreme) Bennion, Roy (Eastenders) Evans, Bill (Dad's Army) Pertwee, Denis (I Claudius) Carey alongside Dot Cotton herself,  June Brown and the aforementioned John Levene?

Isobel Black - Scotch Miss.

Add to that a groovy folk song by based Brummie singer-songwriter and poet Harvey Andrews (who was cruelly cut from the film for having a face like a potato, his song mimed to by Martin Boddey), stunts from the legendary Rocky Taylor and a score by the fantastic John Cameron (who, in case you didn't know arranged and recorded the instrumental version of Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love" that for centuries was used as the theme music for the BBC TV show, Top of the Pops) and you - should - have a recipe for success.
It's a pity then that the whole thing comes across more Victoria Wood than Pete Walker with it's frightfully posh - as opposed to just frightening - biker gang (who all appear to be just the wrong side of 25) who never seem to go any further than the local shops to cause trouble and with a bad boy lead who lives at home with his mum in a mansion and phones her if he's gonna be late home.

The gangs air of menace isn't helped by their names either - there's Gash, Hinkey, Chopped Meat (?), Bertram and bad girl Jane Pettibone, I mean seriously in a street fight between them and the Jets from West Side Story I know who my money would be on.

Sod that I reckon The Tweenies could probably take them given a few ales.

Plus I imagine Fizz would look really hot in skin-tight red bikers leathers.

But I digress.

Five fingers, never touched the sides.
It's not all bad tho' and to be fair when he's allowed Sharp pulls off some pretty cool scenes including a fantastic  360 degree pan around a morgue which begins with Abby pretending to be dead and surrounded by Police as Chief Inspector Hesseltine outlines his plan to capture Tom and Abby gone and the previously empty morgue bays filled with the bodies of the now dead officers. 

Add to that the gangs suicide scenes have an air of macabre glee about them, it's just a pity that the film doesn't know if it wants to be seriously scary or darkly comedic so ends up being neither.

Even the implications of the gangs suicide/resurrection pact is never fully explored and as mentioned earlier, none of them return looking anything other than perfect, imagine them coming back battered, burnt and broken then realising this is how it'd be from then on in, as it stands in the movie a group of bored, posho types pretend play working class rebels by scaring postmen, come back from the dead as immortals and still just scare postmen.

Saying that tho' it's actually (surprisingly?) a pretty entertaining watch if you're in the right frame of mind, which obviously George Sanders wasn't when he first viewed it in a small cinema whilst on holiday in Madrid seeing as after it'd finished he went straight back to his hotel and killed himself, leaving a note pronouncing "God I'm bored".

Shit this has ended on a wee bit of a downer hasn't it?






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