“Ride with the living dead!”
I’ve always had a thing for motorcycle movies. It’s one of my favorite horror sub-genres. While over the years, I have seen a wide range of horror/motorcycle cross-overs, also lovingly referred to as bikes-ploitation, my favorite of all time will always be the 1973 British moto-horror PSYCHOMANIA aka THE DEATH WHEELERS.
Tom, the leader of a group of hoodlum British bikers called The Living Dead, has found a way to cheat death. After taking his own life, Tom is buried sitting atop his motorcycle, only to return from the dead as a handsome, unscathed walking corpse. Now invincible he is able to cause chaos without a care in the world, and not wanting to be alone, he has his entire gang do likewise creating a posse of the riding dead terrorizing a quaint English town.
The fact that this motorcycle gang is British makes the debauchery almost too sweet. This isn’t a posse of barrel-chested thick-bearded thugs on Harleys chain-smoking and running drugs across the border. This group is composed of attractive young men and women in matching outfits riding Triumphs. While at times the extent of their “chaos” is to overturn a few fruit carts, they do manage to muster up a good amount of living dead debauchery as, gradually, they all kick it.
Featuring cool stunts, a nice 70s biker vibe, and a killer soundtrack, PSYCHOMANIA is a must for any horror or motorcycle aficionado. There is also ample early 1970s psychedelia to boot! Tom comes from a wealthy family of witches whose magical powers all stem from their pet frog, who plays a major role in the film. Tom’s journey to “the other side” and his interaction with the frog feature oodles of trippy imagery and acid-fueled color swirls.
While PSYCHOMANIA has previously been loved and adored by a small cult audience, it has recently found new attention thanks to a snazzy DVD release from Severin Films. Now if someone would just release a fancy Blu-ray edition or make the actual PSYCHOMANIA motorcycle helmets….