Psychomania (1973)

psychomania death wheelers poster 1973 movie
6.5 Overall Score
Story: 5/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 8/10

Cool deaths

George Sanders last film

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Psychomania

Studio:  Benmar Productions Limited

Genre(s):  Horror/B-Movie

Release Date(s):  January 5, 1973

MPAA Rating:  PG

psychomania death wheelers jane ann michelle grocery store

How bad are we? We’re the Living Dead! We tear up grocery stores!!!

The Living Dead are hell on wheels and have discovered a secret to eternal life.  Tom Latham (Nicky Henson) has forced his mother (Beryl Reid) and her servant Shadwell (George Sanders) to tell the secret of the undead.  The Living Dead learn if they die without fear and the knowledge they are going to come back, that they come back from the dead invincible.  Now, the Living Dead cannot be stopped, and they’re getting on their motorcycles to raise hell.

Directed by Don Sharp, Psychomania is a motorcycle low-budget British horror film.  Also released as the The Death Wheelers (or even the Death Wheelers Are…Psycho Maniacs in Australia), the film became a cult hit.  Psychomania is also the final film of classic actor George Sanders who committed suicide not long after the movie was finished.

My neighbor had a copy of Psychomania when we were kids.  At the onset of VCRs, it was rare to own your own movies and if you happened to own one (even a bargain bin movie like Psychomania), you watched the film over and over again (even if you did not love it).  We would watch Pychomaniacs mostly for the deaths and rarely finished the movie when viewing it.

psychomania death wheelers george sanders nicky henson frog

Hey, remember when you won an Oscar for All About Eve? Now you’re in a movie staring at a frog!

The movie is just strange.  It has that cool British ’70s look with nice camera work with a very “British” looking cast.  There is a whole sub-story about Tom’s mother making a sacrifice at Tom’s birth, a frog, and the strange relationship between Shadwell and the family that never feels fully explained (even star Nicky.  Most of the fun involves the random acts of violence that the gang does once they are dead which includes running over baby carriages.  It receives lots of comparisons to A Clockwork Orange due to the hooligan actions of the Living Dead (it just doesn’t have the class or style of A Clockwork Orange).

The stunt work for the film is actually rather impressive.  When the members of the Living Dead learn that they return to life if they die with no fear they begin to enact crazy deaths (instead of just shooting each other).  Jumping off building, jumping into moving cars, and even drowning, the movie has nice stunts that hold up over time…I just wish the zombie bikers were cooler when they came back.

psychomania death wheelers ending motorcycle gang turns to stone

We’re stone cold…that’s how cool we are!!!

The cast is young and eager, but George Sanders is a sad side note of this movie.  He had a great career with movies like All About Eve, Rebecca, and I also liked an underrated Lucille Ball film Lured.  Kids will most remember him as the voice of Shere Khan in Disney’s version of The Jungle Book.  He had kind of a crazy life and supposedly before this movie he had a stroke which explains a slight slur in his speech.  Sanders committed suicide in April 1972 at 65 and rumor has it that he did it after seeing a rough cut of Psychomania.

Psychomania is a goofy film.  It has a nice sense of style to it, and it is worth watching for that reason.  It is pretty memorable and it might not always make sense, but it is a fun ride.  If you are into “far-out, groovy” style of movies…which it was probably past being cool, check out Psychomania.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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