Notorious for being the biker witchcraft flick where the bikers have the cool skull helmets, over the years the film has aged into quite a cult attraction for several reasons. Filmed in 1973 by the same company who would also produce the spooky oddity Horror Express, it was an influence on punk much like A Clockwork Orange (The Damned have a song called “Psychomania”) with the bikers in tight black leather and skull and bones designs. One of the characters is a mysterious figure who just might be Satan himself is played by legendary actor George Sanders. It was his last film before he committed suicide and became a darling of the gothic scene for his suicide note (“I am bored…I am leaving you with your worries in this sweet cesspool…”). It is also a notable film for its post swinging London pre-glam look with star Nicky Henson (Witchfinder General) rocking a shag hairstyle and looking like a member of The Sweet.
Henson plays Tom and is the leader of a biker club called The Living Dead. Tom’s mother is seen holding a séance and is attended to by a mysterious man named Shadwell. Tom believes his mother and Shadwell know the secret to eternal life and wants it for his own. When Tom learns the secret he shares it with the gang and one by one they break on through and become “undead” without knowing the terrible price.
A staple of late night Los Angeles television, the film was a success on home video as well and as punk started to turn dark the film found a place as a cult item. Hardcore metal fans in England also hold the film in high esteem for the unforgettable scene where Tom, who the gang requested be buried on his bike near Stonehenge (The Seven Witches), comes back to life with the sound of his bike revving underground before finally bursting out of the grave like the Meatloaf album cover.
Arrow has released the film on Blu-ray and the disc looks great. The sound is crisp so you can enjoy the heavy guitar during the town raid and the beautiful ballad “Riding Free” at Tom’s burial. The extras are carried over from the DVD and are essential for “psychomaniacs”. An interview with Nicky Henson is especially fun as he seems like a great bloke. There is a making of documentary featuring many of the cast members and even a tribute to Harvey Andrews. Andrews is the performer of “Riding Free”, a musician who on the fly was asked to perform the song for the film. His comments on the lip-synch job by the actor who performs it in the film are funny and he even whips out the guitar he used and does an impromptu version of the song. New extras for the Blu-ray release include a look inside Lewis Leathers, the company who fitted the actors with their costumes (Henson wore his own jacket in the film) and a look at the restoration.