Psychomania (1973)

PsychomaniaPosterAs soon as you see a dude in his colors straddling his chrome horse and eating up blacktop while the pigs are sucking his fumes, you know you’re in for another biker gang movie full of drinking, brawling, and weird slang. You could take it or leave it, right? But what would you say if this was a biker gang who died and came back as zombies? And what if it starred Oscar winning film legend George Sanders? I know exactly what you’d say: looks we finally solved the mystery of why Oscar winning film legend George Sanders committed suicide right after making this movie!

Tom is the leader of a biker gang called The Living Dead. We immediately recognize Tom as not just your regular run of the mill biker leader when he interrupts a make out session with his old lady (Abby) at the local cemetery so that he can catch this really big frog. Though you make think that Tom must have been about eight years old, I assure you that he wasn’t and that he actually had a very good reason to catch this big frog.

I never did catch on to what his good reason for catching that big frog was, but as soon as he brought it back to his mom’s house, his mom’s butler Shadwell (Sanders) seemed duly impressed. In fact, Shadwell really had a thing for frogs (or at least jewelry featuring them) and this big frog was kept under a glass container until the end of the movie when he ended up sitting on a chair, presumably mocking me for being dullwitted enough to have been taken in by all this frog-reincarnation-cult-biker nonsense.

Tom’s mother is something of a medium and is just wrapping up a séance when Tom comes motoring back home with his frog. Tom’s intentions that night are to get some answers to some of his longstanding questions.

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Among these questions are what’s in the locked room in the house and what’s the secret to life after death. Even though the room has been locked up for 18 years (even since Tom’s dad died), Shadwell and Mom realize that Tom will not be denied, so Mom reaches into her blouse, pulls out the key to the room, and hands it to Tom. (If I was Tom, I would probably just have had her unlock it for me after that.)

What happens in that room can only be described as muddled. Tom finds his dad’s eyeglasses and has a vision of the past. He sees his mom out at the local strange rock formation known as the Seven Witches and she has this baby there (must be Tom) and she’s signing some contract with a mysterious guy with a frog ring (must be Shadwell).

Tom also sees a giant frog starring at him. Tom finally succumbs to these heinous apparitions and freaks out. Outside the room, he hears Shadwell and his mom babbling about how Tom’s dad died when he tried to cross over because he just didn’t believe in life after death hard enough. Tom instantly recognizes this as that vital bit of info he needed to carry out his plan and it isn’t long before he drives his bike off a bridge into the river below to his apparent death.

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Tom’s death leads to a funeral highlighted by one of the Living Dead singing a protest rock song called “Riding Free” as well as Tom being buried upright and seated on his bike. It looked a little silly when they were doing it, but there was no way you could argue that it didn’t look super cool when he was busting out of his grave on his cycle, dirt flying in every direction!

Following the not unexpected bar fight his first night back, Tom spends the remainder of the film attempting to convince the rest of his crew to kill themselves so that they too can live forever without ever being hurt. This leads to one of the stranger montages you’re likely to see as gang members kill themselves in a variety of ways.

You’ve got a guy jumping out of a multi-story building. There’s guy who loads himself up with chains and flops into the river where he drowns. Another guy takes a swan dive off a highway overpass into the path of an oncoming truck. And then there’s the dude that sky dives out of an airplane without ever opening his parachute. The unimaginative Abby was just trying to overdose. Of course she fails because she wants to live. What kind of girlfriend is that?

With his mostly zombie team of biker pals, Tom begins to execute his master plan. So they all head to the local grocery store and drive around knocking over boxes of cereal, displays of canned goods and plowing into baby carriages!

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Tom and the gang head back to his place where Tom tells Abby they should each drive through a brick wall. Tom does this, but Abby fails to do so and Tom realizes that their relationship is in trouble. She confesses that she is actually alive and Tom is understandably miffed at this complete lack of support of his undead lifestyle. It’s off to the Seven Witches where Tom tells her that she either kill herself or the gang will do it for her.

The fact that this is when the big wrap up to everything takes place kind of shows you how little went on in the movie. It’s basically the “boy meets girl, boy kills self, boy comes back from dead, boy wants girl to kill self” plot we’ve all seen before, but you know, with bikers. And frogs. And Oscar-winning film legend George Sanders.

The ending probably only made sense if the beginning made any sense to you. I never understood Shadwell, his frogs, his bargains, or how any of this related to coming back from the dead simply because you wished for it to happen.

But then again, I didn’t need to since I had a bunch of grubby bikers peeling around the English countryside crashing semis and outrunning the fuzz. I mean, these guys wore helmets with skulls painted on the front, complimented with big white goggles. So what if there were some amphibians and washed up actors milling around in the background?

© 2014 MonsterHunter

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