"MURDER TO A WILD WATUSI BEAT..!!
featuring THE VENDELL'S and the GO-GO-GIRLS!!"
— Angus Kohm (@AngusKohm) September 18, 2021
Psycho a Go Go (1965) is, for all intents and purposes, the first feature film directed by Al Adamson. He was an uncredited director on Half Way to Hell (1960), but Psycho a Go Go was his first official directing gig. As I may have mentioned before, I’ve been fan of Adamson since first seeing some of his movies on VHS many years ago. I was excited to get to see his first movie, partly because I had thought that it didn’t exist anymore.
One of the things that Al Adamson is known for, is using footage from old movies to create new movies. Or adding new footage to old movies, retitling them, and releasing them as new movies. Sometimes they were movies that other people had made, and that Al (or his producers) had gotten the rights to, and then altered to make them more marketable (or something). Other times, Al would cannibalize his own movies to create something new.
Psycho a Go Go was Al’s first feature film, and the original version of… well, let’s call it Psycho a Go Go. In 1969, Al re-edited it and added some new footage of legendary actor John Carradine, playing a mad scientist. The “new” movie was released as The Fiend with the Electronic Brain.
Still not satisfied (or perhaps just seeing another opportunity) Al added some more material, featuring other actors – including his future wife Regina Carrol. He called this “new” movie Blood of Ghastly Horror. If that wasn’t enough, there was also a TV version created in 1972 called The Man With the Synthetic Brain.
So, knowing that all of these different cuts and versions of Psycho a Go Go had been released, I wasn’t sure if the original Psycho a Go Go even existed anymore. Thankfully, Troma released it on DVD a few years back and I was able to finally see it. What a thrill that was, and in some ways Psycho a Go Go turned out to be the best version of Psycho a Go Go that Al had ever made.
Psycho a Go Go is pretty much a straight up crime film. It’s a violent and nasty piece of work about a psychotic jewel thief who kills one of his own partners and then goes after a woman and her little girl because they may have inadvertently taken possession of the stolen diamonds.
Sounds tense, doesn’t it? Well, don’t worry because in between moments of suspense there are plenty of nightclub scenes featuring singer, and actress, Tacey Robbins performing with The Vendells. Apparently Al was trying to promote her career at the time he made Psycho a Go Go so he featured her talents as much as he could. In real life, Tacey Robbins released one 7″ single of My L.A. / Ordinary Boy, both of which are featured in Psycho a Go Go.
Psycho a Go Go isn’t going to give movies like Cape Fear (1962) a serious run for their money, in terms of 1960s noir and suspense, but it’s maybe aiming to be in that ballpark. Perhaps Ray Dennis Steckler’s The Thrill Killers (1964) would be a better comparison, although Steckler’s movie is probably still much better made. Adamson, even in his first feature film, is already displaying his mastery of the “bad movie”. It becomes more apparent in the subsequent versions of Psycho a Go Go (like Blood of Ghastly Horror). Still, one can see Al’s distinct touch in Psycho a Go Go, and imagine his future greatness.
Psycho a Go Go (1965) is almost a good movie, but it is undoubtedly #NotQuiteClassicCinema. For fans of Al, it is a must see. For those looking for a way into Al appreciation, it’s not a bad place to start. There are few sure things in this life, but I would say that any movie with Al Adamson’s name on it is going to enliven any #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn.