For Those About to Schlock – We Salute You

Denez McAdoo

Psychomania1971″Ride with the Living Dead!” Unrated – 90 min.

God save the British. Let us sit back for just a moment and think a bit about all the great things that our mother nation from across the pond has done for the rest of the free world: colonization, virgin cola, English muffins, um, the feudal system, Hugh Grant. But too oft hath British cinema been overlookèd. Let us now praise all the accomplishments that those union jack-waving wankers have accomplished for the illustrious world of third-rate B movie cinema.

Psychomania tells the sordid tale of English youth gone wrong. Cocksure hoodlum Tom, a Mick Jagger look-a-like and leader of the notorious biker gang The Living Dead, spends his days riding motorcycles with his posse in cemeteries, doing tricks, and just being overall juvenile delinquents. Watch as he and his crew perform some totally un-radical tricks such as the pop-a-wheelie and the burn-out. Later, they venture into town where they vent their teenage frustration. Witness as they perform their heinous crimes against humanity–driving though produce carts, chasing skirts, tipping over a baby carriage, and swiping an old lady’s parasol. Okay, you’re right, these thugs are total dweebs, but isn’t that the charm of the British? Even after they’ve picked your pocket and run over your dog, you still just want to bend down, pinch their cheeks, and call them “naughty little buggers” before sending them soundly off to bed with out any supper.

Because over here in merry ole gaye Britannia, even the hooligans and thugs have more class and are more polite. Sure, they loot and plunder or do whatever else they need to get their kicks, but at the end of the day they always go home to their mums. These degenerates apparently have enough spare time on their hands to make individual custom printed leather jackets with snappy nick names painted on the front and their gang’s name printed on the back. When they ride, they ride in style, and to achieving maximum intimidation they adorn their bike helmets with skull and cross-bone faceplates–that way, mofos know when they’re coming up the road.

Yes, this may sound a bit like Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 film adaptation of A Clockwork Orange minus any redeeming social commentary, and, well, it is. But there’s a twist to this tale. Unfortunately, it doesn’t make a lick of sense, so I’ll explain it the best I can. Tom’s mum and her butler/lover/business partner/spiritual guru perform séances for the local community and this has gotten them involved into some of the darker aspects of the occult. Through the magick of frogs, they have learned the secret of eternal life. Tom wants in and goes through the magick frog process (bear with me) and he learns that the secret to eternal life is to simply want it–really bad. Yes, it’s that easy.

Now, to prove this to his friends he drives himself and his bike off a bridge and drowns in a river. During Tom’s funeral, his tough-as-nails biker friends have suddenly become flower-picking hippies in pastel vests while one of the members plays a solo acoustic song limp enough to make Donovan jealous. The gang decides to bury Tom the way they think he would have wanted: his rigor-mortis corps propped up on his bike buried standing up in the ground. This is just a poorly disguised set up for the next scene where Tom reemerges from the ground blasting his way back out of hell. He explains the “secret,” and his friends follow suit, driving into oncoming traffic, jumping out of windows, off bridges, and out of planes.

Apparently this lot also has no ambition, and they use their new-found superpowers to continue to be snot-nosed punks as they drive into a supermarket and knock over more baby carriages and tomato soup displays. Utterly pointless? Probably. But these kids don’t care what you or anyone else thinks about them.

The Pseudo-mod proto-punk outfits and the dated 60s sets really are what make up for the relative lack of blood in this movie. When people get stabbed and run over, their bodies produce not even a dribble of catsup. The film lacks some needed grit that would make these characters come off as more intimidating and threatening, instead of like merry pranksters. Overall, the movie fails to elevate itself above being a so-bad-it’s-good exploitation flick that, frankly, isn’t even that good. Rent this only if you have no friends.