Happy Halloween Part 3, 2012: PSYCHOMANIA (1973), MURDER BY PHONE (1981), THE DEAD DON’T DIE (1975)



Chances are, if you’ve known me for more than a few years, I’ve already shown you this film. I’ve been obsessed with it since the mid-eighties, since before I discovered Italian horror, since before I was a fully realized person. PSYCHOMANIA may have made me a fully realized person. It has THE WICKER MAN power over me. Lots of motorcycles, great interior decoration, psychedelic mod hippy pagans, folk music, stonehenges, existentialism, no boobs. Joseph Robert Briggs II approved…


I have this on videotape and pull it out whenever I feel like a Cronenberg movie but not like actually watching a Cronenberg movie. Filmed in Canada, in the 70s, in winter, it has that 70s Cronenberg “look” that I love so well. Two other things… One, it stars a young(ish) Richard Chamberlain at the height of his gay clone bearded phase and obviously slumming it two years after SHOGUN. I have a theory that he only made the film because there was some hot man in Canada that he was sleeping with at the time. He seems to be sleep walking and dreaming about sex while “acting”. You can just read it in his face. It’s a joy to watch. Two, MURDER BY PHONE has some of the best timing of any movie murders I’ve seen. Now, don’t get me wrong, this isn’t TRADITIONAL timing, this is traditional “jump” scenes that are just a little to one side of the tradition. This isn’t a “campy” movie or a bad movie, and the murder sequences are creative, well done, well edited, etc…but each and every one of them nonetheless make me laugh hysterically. I just don’t know how it was done. It’s genius. See if you feel the same…


If the great director Curtis Harrington had made NIGHT TIDE alone, he would still be remembered for his contribution to horror. Fortunately for us he made many, many more unusual, quality films. I fell in love with Harrington and went on an obsessive hunt for all his movies some time in the late 90s when, on a lark, I watched one of the movies he made to capitalize on the success of WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE. I believe it was called WHO SLUE AUNTIE RUE? I though it would be fun schlock and did not expect it to be the fun, garish, stylish, polished gem that it is. From there I was hooked. Unfortunately, he did a lot of his work for television and, at that time, none of those films were available on DVD. Thank god for YouTube.

THE DEAD DON’T DIE is an unusual favorite for me. The style is based on film noir, and I generally DETEST modern films that are based on film noir. But Harrington does it SO DAMNED WELL that it is impossible not to appreciate, plus he fills his films with such heart, such great details in character and setting, that it easily transcends the boring cliches that weigh down most neo-noir. It’s amazing that this was made for television.

This copy is not top quality. It’s fuzzy and faded and cries out for some sort of loving restoration. Unfortunately, this is the only copy on the net and no worse than the VHS copy I have, so it will do.


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