Deranged (1974)

DERANGED (1974)
Article 2560 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-8-2008
Posting Date: 8-15-2008
Directed by Jeff Gillen and Alan Ormsby
Featuring Roberts Blossom, Cosette Lee, Leslie Carlson
Country: USA

On the passing of his mother, a man’s mental condition deteriorates. He digs up his dead mother and keeps her in his house, engages in grave-robbing and taxidermy to keep her from falling apart, and eventually turns to cannibalism and murdering women.

The Ed Gein story was one of the inspirations for, among others, PSYCHO, THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE and THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS; there’s no doubt that it touches a horrific nerve somewhere. This one is rather modest; rather than using the story to horrify, it attempts to tell a more straightforward account of the Ed Gein murders. I don’t know how accurate the movie is in this respect, but there’s one thing I can say; thanks to some fine casting (especially Roberts Blossom as Ezra Cobb, the Ed Gein role) and a real sense of authenticity, the movie comes across as utterly convincing. Blossoms is really a wonder here; he manages to come across as sympathetic despite his derangement, and we can understand why those close to him didn’t know what he was doing and felt he was no more than a harmless eccentric. Even the conceit of having an onscreen narrator tell us the story on occasion doesn’t break the feeling that we’re seeing a re-creation of real life events. The movie even manages to show a sharp sense of humor on occasion. This movie is powerful, sad, and rather modest in telling its tale.

 

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