Monday, March 23, 2009

Movie Review: Deranged (1974)

DERANGED - Ed Gein-inspired flick from Alan Ormsby

Written by Alan Ormsby
Directed by Alan Ormsby and Jeff Gillen

Roberts Blossom...Ezra Cobb
Cosette Lee...Ma Cobb
Robert Warner...Harlon Kootz
Micki Moore...Mary Ransom
Narrator...Leslie Carlson
The motion picture you are about to see is absolutely TRUE. Only the names and the locations have been changed.
Everyone knows that Psycho was inspired by the real life murderous exploits of Ed Gein. This is the other Ed Gein story...the one that nobody really talks about.

Ezra Cobb is a perennial mama's boy. He lives in a small country home, taking care of the housework and his overbearing, over-protective, bedridden matriarch. When she dies, not all together unexpectedly, he's left alone and lonely...a veritable babe in the woods of this world.

Without the comfort of his mother's love, and no other family to call his own, his solitude wreaks havoc on his already frail mind and he slowly descends into madness. A year goes by before he makes that final break with reality, and one night he hears his mother's voice, urging him to come get her and take her home. Which he does, digging up her putrid corpse and placing it back in her bed, play-acting as if nothing ever happened.

But even through Ezra's dementia, he knows that she sure ain't as pretty as she used to be. He begins to study the literature and practice the arts of embalming and taxidermy, hoping to restore her to a lifelike sheen. Before long, he's hitting the graveyard again in search of fresh flesh for his little science project, and then it's only a hop-skip-and-a-jump from being a ghoul to being a full-fledged murderer.

Oddly, the most disturbing scenes in this movie aren't the murders, and don't even involve the myriad corpses piling up in the Cobb Cabode. The scene in which Ezra practically force-feeds his mother split pea soup, before she regurgitates it in a bloody oral explosion was particulary distressing--red and green will never signify Christmas for me again--and the warped little sexual seance had me grimacing throughout. There was also a dinner table scene that seemed tacked on, and I would say that it was cribbed from Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but both films were released the same year.

It's a shame that Ma Cobb died so early in the film. She seemed chock full of Notable Quotables: "All women are filthy black-souled sluts with pus-filled sores!" and "The wages of sin is gonorrhea, syphilis, and death!" wonder that boy wasn't right.

Before we go any further, let me assure you that this is no Psycho. Meaning, this isn't an unabashed horror classic. It is, however, more factual than that famous Hitchcockian masterpiece, and thus carries with it a certain creepy pedigree. The low budget could have granted it a realistic feel, but the strange choice of having an on-screen narrator throughout the film instead made it feel almost like an expanded episode of Unsolved Mysteries. And even this omniscient Robert Stack-like fellow was prone to a few, umm...mistakes. When introducing the barmaid Mary Ransom, he informs the audience that this woman is "Thirty-Four, and truth be told...over the hill."(!) Hate to break it to you, sir, but actress Micki Moore was--hell, STILL IS--a card carrying member of the MILF brigade.

DERANGED - Actress Micki Moore Today

By the way, the careful observer may see a brief, pictorial cameo by writer-director Alan Ormsby, looking very much like a parody of Dr. Phil.

A hell of a step up from Ormsby's previous effort, Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things, and a suitable addition to any true-crime library. You just might feel a little dirty afterward.

Rated R
82 Minutes
United States

I'm tired and I don't want no soup!

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