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cult classics

Psychomania is a wonderful example of a horror movie not taking advantage of the wealth of depth and information that is packed into its plot. The movie is more or less about Tom (Nicky Henson) and his violent motorcycle gang, which includes his girlfriend Abby (Mary Larkin). While Tom and the rest of the gang are violent psychopaths, Abby is much more innocent and hangs around with the gang only due to her love for Tom. While the police may hate Tom, his mother loves him and they share a very deep love for each other and the black arts. Tom decides that he is going to go down the same path as his father, who took his own life in hopes of returning from the dead. The result is Tom and mostly everybody in his motorcycle gang going down a deep, dark path in hopes of living for eternity as “the living dead.”

Since this movie was created in 1973, we have to understand that some aspects of it are going to appear campy or inferior to what we see today. With that in mind, I decided to look past the horrid disco music and graphics that were borderline laughable. What kept this movie from floundering was its plot. I found the idea of returning from the dead very interesting, especially when it is done simply by will. If an individual makes a pact with the devil and kills themselves with no regrets or doubts about returning, then they will come back to life. Not only are they zombies, but they are immortal and living embodiments of their former self. They are no different than the person they were before they killed themselves. I found this idea so simple and pure that it was creative and innovative.

This movie also takes on the idea of a cult following and the power of influence. Naturally, when I think of cults, I think about kool-aid and mass suicide. This movie has that (minus the kool-aid) and attempts to examine the power of peer pressure, especially in relation to Tom’s girlfriend. Furthermore, the delicate balance between living and dying was examined. While most of the gang killed themselves instantly in order to become immortal, some individuals struggled with the idea of taking their lives. Even if I knew I could kill myself and come back to life, would I really be able to do it without a shred of doubt?

Due to the movie's ability to be both campy and sincere, it does tend to come off just a little bit too funny for its own good. A mixture of murder, dark arts, and cults were joined to create an interesting combination, but the movie never went deep enough into each subject to really draw the audience in. I never felt close enough to the characters, not because of weak acting, but rather due to a lack of intensity in the story and the desire to really examine a specific theme. If you view this film with the hopes of being entertained and not expecting much more, than this movie is for you. The themes presented are rich and very philosophical, so if you try to connect the dots between the serious and the comedic, you could be left hating this movie.

Furthermore, anyone looking for lots of blood or gore should not watch this film. There is literally no blood in the movie and all murders are off screen. The viewer is privy to interesting suicides, but that is about it. There is also a lack of scares in this film. Psychomania is much more about investigating a culture rather than investigating the heart of scare or horror. This movie, due to both intentional and unintentional comedy, has garnered it cult status. Besides the comedy, I think viewers are drawn into the story of life and death and the fascinating aspects of the black arts. Again, it should be reiterated, while the viewer is given interesting topics to examine, the movie never fully capitalizes on its rich plot.

Horror island is receiving a unique set of zombies. While some zombies are bitten by others or they simply die and are magically brought back to life by sinister forces, these bikers killed themselves just to come back to life and wreak havoc. They do cause mayhem, but many of the elite horror creatures are not going to be bothered by their rather childish antics. While these kids have potential, they are not ready to fully develop into the world-class zombies they desperately hope to be.

If you liked Psychomania, you might also like Wake Wood and Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

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