Death, transcendence, rebirth. Who would’ve thought such richly religious themes would inhabit Psychomania, on the surface, a corn-ball British biker exploitation flick?
That’s the beauty of genre cinema…
Directed with a keen eye by Don Sharp, known for The Kiss of the Vampire (1962), Rasputin, the Mad Monk (1965) and The Face of Fu Manchu (1966), Psychomania was produced by Benmar Productions, who were also responsible for one of our site favorites, Horror Express.
Flaxen-haired Tom Latham (Nicky Henson) is the leader of a gang, not so much tough-as-railspikes bikers, but more juvenile delinquent types (they’re too good-looking to be 1%er outlaws, and living at home certainly cramps their style).
However, don’t let their looks deceive: they do get up to a bit of that ultra violence a la the Droogs from A Clockwork Orange, running over the elderly, and bowling over women pushing prams.
Tom heads up The Living Dead (yeah, we know) terrorizing Surrey and generally behaving like a nuisance.
They not only commit the carnage described above, but dabble in the Satanic arts. Mom, and family (including the mysterious butler Shadwell) hold séances in the home, and are part of some amphibian-worshiping cult.* Suffice it to say, the frog is a perfect metaphor for inhabiting two liminal realms, in the case of the slimy critters, water, but also land.
George Sanders is the odd-ball Butler Shadwell, and is perhaps best known for his turn as Jack Favell in Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller, Rebecca.
Bottom line: With its quirk, psychedelia, and rich 70s score, Psychomania is a weird gem and endlessly fascinating.
*** (out of 5)
[CHECK OUT OUR PSYCHOMANIA PODCAST!]
[Editor’s note: For an interesting discussion about frog metaphysics (!), check out this chat with the University of Toronto’s Dr. Jordan Peterson].