Plot: What’s it about?
In The Psycho Lover (a.k.a. The Loving Touch), a madman named Marco is on a spree of mayhem, leaving a trail of dead women in his wake. Whenever he feels like his manhood is being threatened, Marco goes off the deep and strangles some poor woman, though he has minimal remorse for his actions. This is because he doesn’t believe they really happen, instead he thinks the murders are part of some horrific nightmares. In order to rid himself of these bad dreams, Marco begins to frequent Dr. Kenneth Alden, a psychiatrist with some issues of his own, including a slew of marital problems. As he sees Marco as little more than a sick criminal, he decides to use him to further his own cause. As his wife won’t give him a divorced, Dr. Alden plans to prompt Marco to murder her, freeing up Alden to pursue his mistress. But will this twisted treatment simply drive Marco even further over the edge? In Heat of Madness, a photographer named Johnny finds himself driven into the darker side of sex, after he works on a special sex magazine. Now he hires girls to pose in bondage, whipping each other, and involved in all kinds of nefarious acts, all to stimulate his darker sexual needs. But when all the madness starts to wear on him, he snaps and when he does, what will become of him and his beautiful models?
This is a sadistic double feature of misogynist mayhem, complete with all the trimmings you’d expect from such depraved pictures. So no, these aren’t the madcap, fun movies usually found on Something Weird releases, instead they’re harsher and more mean spirited efforts, though neither is without recourse. Still, I wouldn’t want to have to spend my time looking for social commentary or redeeming value in these two, as The Psycho Lover and Heat of Madness are simply mean, nasty motion pictures. I think The Psycho Lover is the real find of the two, as it has more style and a more brutal approach, thanks to director Robert Vincent O’Neill. In the same year, O’Neill directed Blood Mania, another movie in the same line, but The Psycho Lover hasn’t garnered the same cult status of Blood Mania over the years. It has all the sex, violence, and psychedelic madness you could want and of course, that’s just the first half of this double feature. Then we have Heat of Madness, which is also a kinky little creation, complete with some nice scenes of bondage, a rare thing to see at the time of release. I didn’t find this one to be quite as outrageous as The Psycho Lover, but when together like on this release, the two films provide quite the twisted twosome. So if you’re into sick, trippy cinema, then give this release a spin.
Video: How does it look?
Both of this twisted sickies are presented in full screen, which seem to be open matte presentations. The Psycho Lover is in full color and looks good, thanks to a print free from all but minor defects. A few more serious instances of marks or debris surface, but these are infrequent and don’t lessen the experience. The colors are bright, though a tad faded by the tolls of time, while flesh tones look normal at all times. The contrast seems sharp also, no detail is lost and shadows seem well defined also. Heat of Madness is a black & white film, so the black levels are the crucial issue here. I found contrast to be stark and well balanced, made even better thanks to a sharp, clean print. You’ll see some age related flaws in both of these transfers, but given the films involved, I’m surprised they look so good.
Audio: How does it sound?
This release uses the original mono tracks and while these aren’t dynamic presentations, the needs of the material seem covered. This type of material doesn’t call for much in terms of dynamic sound, so the mono format is more than adequate in all respects. The dialogue is crisp, with no harshness or separation issues in the least. The sound effects have no problems either, as they come across in distinct and clear fashion. I found very little distortion present and the usual mono hiss is thankfully absent. There is some wear & tear evident in both films, but on the whole, the audio in both is acceptable.
Supplements: What are the extras?
The sole extra specific to these movies is a theatrical trailer of The Psycho Lover, but there’s some additional supplements to be found. You can browse three bonus shorts (The Naked Flower, Name Unknown, and Captain Bondage vs. Women’s Lib), or scan a selection of underground sexploitation artwork, complete with radio promo spots. As usual, a slew of bonus trailers are also included, which are fun to watch.