Deranged (1974)

Man, Alan Ormsby has done so much. In addition to working with Bob Clark on Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things and Death Dream, he wrote My Bodyguard and the remake of Cat People. Plus, he was the original director of Popcorn and the man behind Kenner’s Hugo: Man of a Thousand Faces action figure. 

He’s the man behind Deranged, along with Jeff Gillen, who played Jeff in Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things and who you can see every Christmas Eve as Santa Claus in A Christmas Story

Deranged is filmed as if it were a true story, with reporter Tom Simms (Leslie Carlson, Black Christmas) appearing within the events and narrating them. The whole thing was based on Ed Gein, the infamous real life Butcher of Plainfield, Wisconsin that The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Psycho are both based on.

It was produced by producer Tom Karr, a concert promoter for bands like Led Zeppelin and Three Dog Night who had been fascinated with Ed Gein and dreamed of making a film about his story.

Ezra Cobb (Roberts Blossom, Old Man Marley in Home Alone, how’s that for a scary tie-in role?) is our Ed Gein stand-in, running a midwest farm with his mother Amanda (Cosette Lee, who played Raxl, Daughter of the Priestess of the Serpent on Strange Paradise, a Canadian occult soap opera created in the wake of Dark Shadows). Since he was a boy, she’s taught him to hate women.

Once she dies, it takes a year for him to come out of his shell. When he finally snaps to it, he does what any loving and grieving son would do: he digs his mom up and puts her body together with fish skin and wax.

Ezra gets involved with an eccentric older woman who claims she’s psychic named Maureen Shelby (Marian Waldman, Mrs. MacHenry from Black Christmas, and if you don’t know who that is, please stop reading and start watching). They have a fumbling sexual encounter that ends with Ezra killing her and we’re off to the races.

Ezra’s next target is Mary Ransum (Mickie Moore, who is also in The Vindicator and is one of the Believers in, yes, The Believers), a waitress who he lures home, knocks out and dresses in just her underwear for dinner. Their nice meal is ruined by her trying to run, so he smashes her head with a femur bone. And then he takes out young Sally, which leads the police to his home, where they find him in the kitchen, enjoying a bowl of blood after skinning her.

Deranged is not an easy watch, as its subtitle, Confessions of a Necrophile, will tell you. It’s also the second movie — after Deathdream — that Tom Savini ever worked his special effects magic on.

You can get the blu ray of this film from Kino Lorber.

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