Beloved purveyors of the so-called ‘video nasties’, 88 Films have always put so much heart and passion into their releases – and their latest is no exception. A long unavailable VHS rarity, the sleazy and insane Delirium (AKA: Psycho Puppet) is a savage, disturbing thrillride that boasts all the hallmarks of the subgenre and is presented here fully uncut, restored from the only known 35mm print in existence.
Filmmaker Peter Maris made his directorial debut with this twisted cult gem, taking portions of an unfinished urban conspiracy thriller and merging it with newly-shot psycho-killer action. One of many video nasties born off of post-Vietnam stress, the resulting film is a graphically violent low-budget journey into the mind of a deranged once-vigilante who has become carried away with his quest for murderous justice.
The first half of the film follows Charlie (Nick Panouzis), and takes the form of a traditional 70s slasher flick as he embarks on a murderous rampage packed with all the usual gratuitous violence and nudity one has come to expect from films of this era and subgenre. The second half, where the aforementioned urban conspiracy thrills come in, builds a convoluted narrative in which we learn Charlie was an employee of the vigilante group before his Vietnam trauma caught up with him and he started killing everyone he encountered.
The film is unsurprisingly bonkers and packed with abysmal writing that has you laughing at characters’ bizarre decisions, and the filmmakers’ excuses to inject nudity – one victim who Charlie picks up and terrifies by driving around at alarming speeds and almost killing, bizarrely finds it a totally wise decision to skinny dip with the maniac in the following scene. Many sequences in the film go this way, which can blur the line between laughable and cringeworthy – and yet, the overall experience is one of bizarre and morbid enjoyment. Like many video nasties, there is very little here of any quality, and certainly not even a slither of artistic merit. Yet, there’s something compelling about Delirium.
Whether it’s the grisly kills, explosive action or utterly bonkers performance from Panouzis as the psychotic killer, there is something in Delirium to entertain fans of the genre – and 88 Films have done an absolutely bang-up job with this release. Boasting a terrific 2K transfer from the only known 35mm film elements, it looks as good as it realistically can, while insightful interviews with director Peter Maris and special effects artist Bob Shelley offer genuinely interesting stories into the film’s production. A booklet with notes from Andrew Graves build upon this insight, while a limited edition slipcase and poster with new artwork from Joel Robinson will delight collectors.