director Jack M. Sell
Obscurity is a virtue. To me, in film. Those who are preserving, digging up, restoring and making available lost oddities of cult cinema I deeply admire and appreciate.
Not every obscure gem is a true and utter thing of gloriousness. And they don’t have to be to merit interest or to watch. The Psychotronic Man is a case in point.
Most notable for inspiring the title of the movie fanzine Psychotronic, it’s probably safe to say that The Psychotronic Man isn’t notable for a whole lot else. Except someone familiar with the Chicago area might find all the location shots an interesting capture of a time long gone for the Second City.
Low-budget and independently made, Jack M. Sell’s picture is about an alcoholic barber who gains “psychotronic” powers after an evening pulled off to the side of a back road and some sort of paranormal encounter. His powers result in violence and death. I actually think it’s pretty readable as the story of the psychological breakdown of a man, lashing out at his family and the world as his disappointment and mediocrity hits his mid-life in drunken crisis mode. The psychic violence could well be metaphorical.
The movie is slow, lingering on scenes that would have best been on the cutting room floor. But it features things like aerial shots and crane shots and some quite decent camerawork. It features a protracted car chase that might be the most unexciting ever filmed.
So why see it? Because it exists? To check it off a list? It’s existence is perhaps more interesting than its own experience. That end freeze-frame is pretty cool.
Also I recommend reading Bill Burke’s write-up at horrornews.net. Quite interesting.