The Psychotronic Man (1979)

Imagine, a cult film that spawned an entire genre of trashy films…

The Psychotronic Man was one of those one man band films, where the director, Jack M. Sell, also shot the film, edited it and co-wrote the script with his star, Peter  Spelson (who also produced.)  It stars no one you ever heard of, and nobody involved went on to do anything else particularly noteworthy.

It did, however, impress Michael J. Weldon so much that he named his new magazine of trash Cinema Psychotronic TV (later Psychotronic Video) after it, although you are free to debate whether that is an honor or not.  Whatever the case, “Psychotronic” soon became the term used to describe the best and weirdest of trashy cinema (ironically, the term was originally coined in the Soviet Union by Czech scientist,Zdeněk Rejdák,as a replacement for the term “parapsychology”, which had already started to reek of psuedoscience)

A barber, suffering from headaches and odd flashes of visions, stops to take a nap in his car.  When he wakes up, he nearly falls out of the car because it is now hovering high in the air.

Before long, his growing psychotronic powers have killed several people and he ends up on the run from the police.

Simple enough.

At the time Sell filmed this, Chicago’s Mayor Daley had banned filmmaking in Chicago, so Sell shot the film without any permits – including the car chases through the crowded streets of the city.  Which, of course, involve fake police cars complete with lights and sirens.

The helicopter shots are remarkably well done, as are some of the crane shots.  However, the strongest impression the film leaves is that it could have stood a considerable amount of editing, as it spends far too long driving around with the hero, far too long on the car chases, far too long on the hero’s long walks, far too long on Peter Spelson staring at the camera.

On the whole, it has a few interesting scenes and an odd atmosphere.  Sadly, however, its generally indifferent quality helps to hide them.

But I guess it wouldn’t be “psychotronic” if it didn’t.


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