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The Independent Critic

Nicky Henson, Mary Larkin, Ann Michelle, George Sanders, Roy Holder
Don Sharp
Arnaud D'Usseau, Julian Zimet
Rated PG
85 Mins.
Cheezy Flicks (DVD)
None; Digitally Remastered

 "The Death Wheelers" is on Home Video With Cheezy Flicks 
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As a longtime fan of the folks at Cheezy Flicks, purveyors of many of the world's best (or worst) B-movies, it's always with a certain glee that I open up my latest e-mail from the distributor offering screeners of their latest featured films. For this month, 1973's The Death Wheelers (also released under Psychomania) is front and center.

In the film, a gang of young people calling themselves the Living Dead spend their days terrorizing their small English town. After they make an agreement with the devil offering eternal life if they kill themselves with absolute conviction, the leader, Tom (Nicky Henson) goes through with the plan and discovers everything isn't quite what he expected even as one-by-one the others join him with the exception of his reluctant girlfriend (Mary Larkin).

The Death Wheelers is perhaps best known as being the final film for George Sanders (who, rather ironically, killed himself not long after finishing the film), who plays Shadwell, a servant for Tom's mysterious mother (Beryl Reid) with psychic powers.

Once the Living Dead do come back from their suicidal excursion, there's really nothing left to stop the gang and they become relentless in the ways in which they wreak havoc in their small town. Okay, well actually, they become as relentless as one can actually get in a PG-rated film that probably was fairly daring when released in 1973.

Even without the film's connection to Cheezy Flicks, the word "cheesy" would no doubt be one that comes to mind after having watched the film and listened to nearly 90 minutes of John Cameron's aching and mind-numbing original score. While I would always fancy myself a fan of motorcycle maniacs on wheels, though the film definitely picks up pace once the gang has come back for eternal life and their dastardly deeds take on a darker edge including, gasp!, running over baby carriages and other deeds.

If, like me, you used to spend hours eyeballing virtually every weird VHS video at the video store (kids, go ask your parents about VHS. They will remember), then you'll likely find something to enjoy with The Death Wheelers, a dependably quirky B-movie with a groovy vibe and a definitive British feel to it. While it's a bit of a sad film once you realize that Sanders really did kill himself after this film, on some rather strange level that only makes the film's off-kilter sensibility even more off-kilter.

The Death Wheelers is available for only $8.99 from the Cheezy Flicks website. It has been digitally remastered, though this film is still pretty rough on the eyes at times. But, really, are you watching The Death Wheelers for the camera work?

I didn't think so.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic