The Curator of Schlock #359 by Jeff Shuster
Don’t look at me. I didn’t title it.
So I went to fill up my tank with the gas I had stored in those plastic garbage bags a couple weeks back. I guess there was a puncture or something because I’ve got diesel spilled all over this fancy factory equipment I’m trying to haul across the Canadian border. Maybe I can hose it down at a car wash somewhere. What a mess. This trucking business is hard!
This week’s movie is 1973’s Psychomania from director Don Sharp. Wikipedia describes the movie as a “British outlaw biker horror film.” Yes, it’s a kind of a of Devil Dog: The Hound of Hell meets A Clockwork Orange deal. This movie was titled The Death Wheelers in the United States which is not an improvement over Psychomania if you ask me. Maybe the title Psychomania doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but color me intrigued.
The movie begins with a vile biker gang named The Living Dead causing a ruckus in the English countryside. Their leader is a young man named Tom Latham who’s obsessed with death and crossing over to the other side. While not preoccupied with death, Tom and his gang run nice Englishmen off the road and has them crash through their windshields for daring to drive down the same road as The Living Dead. Tom also has a nice girlfriend named Abby (Mary Larkin) who seems way too proper to be in a biker gang, but I guess even criminal malcontents still have manners over in England.
Tom’s mother, Mrs. Latham (Beryl Reid), seems to be a master medium of some sort. I don’t know. She has black candles on the table during the seance and her manservant, Chadwell ((George Sanders), violently rejects a gift of a golden cross from their guests. Chadwell says they are servants of a higher power, but I think I know what he’s referring to. This is some devil worshipping!
Tom wants to know why his father died in a special room in their house, the same room that’s been locked for twenty years. Tom insists on going inside the room himself so he can learn the secrets of the universe or something to that effect. Chadwell and his mother relent. Tom opens the door, goes inside, and the door he entered through has now disappeared! Tom screams to be let out, but no one comes to his rescue. Tom looks deep into a huge mirror and is treated to scenes of himself as an infant. Tom then collapses.
Next we see Tom’s mother and Chadwell are trying to revive an unconscious Tom. Mrs. Lathum lets the secret of immortality slip out of her lips. In order to come back after death, you simply need to believe with all of your being that you can come back. Tom overhears this and thanks his mother. He then leads his biker gang on a mad rampage in town, attracting the attention of the police. Tom drives off a bridge, killing himself in the process. The rest of the gang decide to bury Tom sitting on his bike over at “The Seven Witches,” a kind of Stonehenge monument.
A little while later, Tom and his motorcycle burst out of the grave. Tom is now immortal with superhuman strength. Later, he convinces some of the other gang members to kill themselves so they too can be immortal superman if they believe they can return from the dead. We get scenes of these young malcontents throwing themselves off buildings and out of airplanes. Most of them come back and The Living Dead goes on a rampage destroying all in their path. Abby doesn’t want to kill herself and goes to the police. Will they be able to stop Tom and his living dead gang? Why don’t you watch it and find out? Psychomania is more interesting than anything coming to theaters this weekend.
Jeff Shuster (episode 47, episode 102, episode 124, episode 131, episode 284, episode 441, episode 442, episode 443, episode 444, and episode 450) is an MFA graduate from the University of Central Florida.