October 25, 2011

Horror-A-Day: Deranged

So, we getting down to the wire, Halloween is a week away and I am getting ever closer to my recently started tradition of watching horror movies all of Halloween weekend, or in this case the weekend enforce the holiday. Last night I went with a film that I had been wanting to revisit that was well worth the time spent on it, despite it's humble schlock roots. For my next choice I was scanning the horror entries in Netflix and stumbled across an obscure title that looked perfect for the evening. As an added bonus it was not terribly long meaning I should be able to sleep at a reasonable hour.

The movie I chose is called Deranged and it was the cover that caught my attention. It is not exactly great cover art or even an original looking design, but the blue background and the maniacal face with the word Deranged across it was more than enough to catch my attention. For some reason I thought it was an Ozploitation title, but I must have mistaken it for something else, this is not one of those.

I am actually surprised that this movie has to crossed my path before now. Perhaps not as surprised as I was with The Funhouse, but surprised nonetheless. The movie is based on the Ed Gein case. It is not an exact representation, but it is a pretty close approximation. It opens with a screen telling that it is a true story but that the names and locations have been changed.

It opens with a news reporter introducing us to the scene of the crime. He tells us of Ezra Cobb, our stand in for Ed Gein. We are old of his sick mother and his devotion to her and then her ultimate death which destroyed the severely sheltered man.

From here we follow Ezra as he steals his mom from the cemetery and brings her back home and how he searched for various ways to keep her body whole. This escalates to grave robbing and murder as he needs body parts to keep her from rotting, as well as "friends" to come and visit.

It is a movie not without its cheese factor. It comes across as really dated and the recurring appearances of the reporter at a little corny at best, but it doesn't detract too much from the affect of the film. Deranged is a creepy, a little disturbing and surprisingly effective in giving us a portrait of a deranged individual.

The best aspect of the movie is Roberts Blossom as Cobb. He is simultaneously creepy and scary and sympathetic. Particularly early on before his issues truly get out of hand, it is easy to feel sorry for the guy, his mother meant a lot to him, despite her smothering which results in his inability to interact in social situations. Then as the story progresses he becomes really creepy and someone you really do not want to be around.

It was directed by Jeff Gillen and Alan Ornsby and they do a pretty good job of keeping the story moving and the viewer on edge. The are some great sequences such as the waitress walking through the Cobb house and when Ezra is at the General Store with the rifle. It does seem like this could have had some influence on another Gein-inspired film, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Although, their productions may have been around the same time.

In any case, this is a solid, if somewhat dated movie that portrays a believable look into a deteriorating mind. Also of note is that the effects were done by Tom Savini, one of his earliest films.

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