Thursday, 28 September 2017

Psychomania and Mutations

Watched Psychomania yesterday - a favourite of English Heretic - a kind of zombie biker story. Enjoyable, not scary at all, but with some very effective scenes: the atmospheric opening, showing the slo-mo bikers riding through a stone circle (created for the film) that has importance for the finale;    a 360 degree pan around a morgue that initially shows the police guarding one of the gang members pretending to be dead and finishes with the policemen dead inside the glass-fronted chilling cabinets (unlike most movie morgues).  The interior design of the gang leader's mother's (played by Beryl Reid) house is also striking - pure late 60s early 70s (the film dates from 1973) with one of those ball-shaped televisions that you only ever see in films or tv shows from the period (did anyone actually own one?).  The extensive stunt work is also impressive.  There are some funny moments such as the burial of Nicky Henson's gang leader sitting on his bike and some of the dialogue.  Soundtrack by noted composer John Cameron whose other credits include Kes.

The cast includes George Sanders as a sinister butler in his last film and a young Robert Hardy whose performance (and accent) is pretty poor.  An insightful review here and information on locations here.

Also watched the utterly bizarre Mutations (1974, dir. Jack Cardiff), a mad scientist (Donald Pleasence) genre piece, with a late psychedelic aura, but featuring very unsettling and gratuitous (literally eye-popping) footage of a freak show at its heart.  The show is based in Battersea Park, which was interesting to me, as I grew up near there and regularly went to the funfair which also appears, as does an atmospheric Albert Bridge.  One of the hapless student characters bears the amusing name Tony Croydon.  Despite being facially unrecognisable in disfiguring makeup Tom Baker (just prior to Doctor Who?  He already has the long scarf) is still unmistakably Tom Baker.  Also another unusual and discordant soundtrack courtesy of Basil Kirchin.  Online review here.  Day of the Triffids meets Tod Browning's Freaks.

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