Dapper young gent Tom Latham (Nicky Henson), whose mother makes a rather fine living conducting seances in the family estate, heads up a motorcycle gang called The Living Dead--a group of youths with an insatiable lust for hooliganry. Their deeds range from riding rings around unsuspecting shoppers and knocking over fruit carts to running motorists off the road. Tom persuades his mother and her manservant Shadewell (George Sanders in his final role) to let him in on the occult secrets they harbor. After discovering that all one needs to do to achieve immortality is to believe he'll rise from the grave after his suicide, Tom persuades his biker pals to join him in undeath. Only Tom's girlfriend Abby, who possesses a gentler soul than that of the other delinquents, stands between the group and an eternity of vandalism and violence.
|Because seriously--FUCK TESCO.|
Eccentricity is perhaps the greatest renewable resource of the British Isles, and unusual world-views are tolerated and even nurtured in a way they simply aren't in the U.S. Rugged individualism is one thing, but unless it involves beating something (animal, geographical or human) into submission, Americans aren't incredibly interested in hearing about it. Britain's history of inherited lands and titles undoubtedly fostered the British eccentrics, and the character of Tom Latham fits neatly into this tradition. He's the son of wealthy occultists, who were probably supported in their interests by indulgent, also-wealthy and also-eccentric progenitors.
Tom is surrounded by a motley bunch of friends, seemingly without a care for their diverse places within the social hierarchy. His mates in the Living Dead seem to come from a variety of backgrounds: Hatchet is rough around the edges, Jane itches for a fight like a prototypical Ladette, and Hinky is a soft-spoken hippie.
|I'm trying to suss out a way to cleverly mention that Tom looks great in leather, but I'm coming up empty. So let's just take a moment to enjoy those leather trousers, shall we?|
And then there's Tom's funeral, during which he is placed in the ground astride his bike while the rest of the gang weaves commemorative floral arrangements. Hinky's memorial song, "Riding Free," contains such brilliant lines as the couplet "he really got it on/he rode that sweet machine just like a bomb." Fans of Italian horror will note that this scene--minus the folk song--is evoked in Michele Soavi's "Dellamorte Dellamore."
|Nothing that begins this beautifully would disappoint me.|
In this world, frogs hold major occult significance. Frogs are the only animal mentioned during the movie--none of the photogenic bats, wolves or cats one might expect can be found. Instead, there's a very stoical toad who seems to be a locus of resurrection and destruction. Which--let's face it--is really absurd and excellent.
Check out more images from "Psychomania" on Flickr.