The Psychotronic Man is a low budget science fiction cult film that opened in Chicago April 23, 1980 at the Carnegie Theatre. It was directed by Jack M. Sell and written, produced and starred Peter G. Spelson. This film is considered noteworthy for three distinct reasons. The first is that the name “psychotronic” became the generic name for B-grade cult movies. In fact, after seeing the movie once movie critic Michael J. Weldon created an extensive list of reviews of obscure quirky films that he felt were under appreciated by the mainstream and then marketed it as the “Psychotronic Encyclopedia.” The existence of the Psychotronic Encyclopedia prompted the creation of the Psychotronic Film Society at which point the term Psychotronic fell into generic use for this type of movie.
The second thing the movie is most noted for are the production circumstances surrounding it. It was one of the few feature films to be shot entirely in Chicago since the days of the silent movie. It was also entirely produced outside any of the existing studio systems and financed by private funds. At the time Chicago’s mayor Richard J. Daley actively discouraged movie making because he felt the movies that were being made at that time period were mostly negative and rebellious, and he wanted Chicago to be seen in a good light. As a result of this there were almost no permits issued to get scenes filmed. This meant all of the scenes including the downtown running gun battles and the high speed car chases with fake police cars were filmed illegally and without permission or prior notification. This is a fact that can be verified by the Illinois Film Board and by Peter Spelson's commentary track on the only DVD release of the movie
It is also known for what happened to it after it was made. It was only played commercially once in Chicago, where it was made. The film did well, however, in the southern Drive-in theater circuit, and in Europe where pirated copies of the film, often under different names, proliferated.