Deranged Blu-ray Review
Written by Joel Harley
Blu-ray released by Arrow Video
Directed by Jeff Gillen and Alan Ormsby
Written by Alan Ormsby
1974, Region B2, 84 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
Blu-ray released on 19th August 2013
Roberts Blossom as Ezra Cobb
Cosette Lee as Ma Cobb
Leslie Carlson as Tom Sims
Robert Warner as Harlon Kootz
Marcia Diamond as Jenny Kootz
Brian Smeagle as Brad Kootz
“The motion picture you are about to see is absolutely true.” Oh, sure, Deranged, that's what they all say. Based on the crimes of Ed Gein, it tells the story of a rural farmer who becomes a grave robber, murderer and probable necrophile after his mother dies. Although, as the film's alternate title is Confessions of a Necrophile, the 'probable' bit is pretty moot.
His mother dead and buried for over a year, sad farmer Ezra Cobb finds he can't live without the domineering old coot, and decides to dig her back up again. Obviously, a year of decomposing has done Ma Cobb's complexion no good, leaving Ezra with little option but to replace her smellier bits with fresher cuts, clean from the cemetery. Inevitably, Ezra's progression from that is to progress to even fresher meats – namely, his mother's old friend (she's trustworthy because she's fat) Maureen. From there on, Ezra Cobb has become truly deranged. Because that's the title, geddit?
Roberts Blossom delivers an incredible performance as Ezra, at once innocent and childlike, but creepy and terrifying at the same time. His range of facial expressions – particularly during Maureen's séance with her own dead husband – is fantastically employed to great effect. 'Adorable' is an odd word to describe a psychopath, murderer and necrophile, but he's very sweet at times. I particularly liked his date night suit. Like a demented version of Psycho or particularly melodramatic prequel to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, it's an extremely odd film. Best of all is its use of narrator – a bespectacled, suited man (who looks a little like Jemaine from Flight of the Conchords) who pops up in the very scenes he's narrating to solemnly describe Ezra's actions and mental state. Unexpectedly funny, well-written and frequently grisly, it also features the special effects work of one Tom Savini, gore maestro to the stars. The scene in which Ezra casually scoops the brain from a rotted corpse like some sort of meat ice cream is a highlight (and was banned in the UK) but there's plenty of memorable grue throughout. Not bad, considering that Deranged was only Savini's second film.
Psycho and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre may (rightly) get all the headlines, but Deranged is deserving of your attention too. Its use of black humour works better than any Texas Chain Saw sequel (even my beloved Part 2), and the acting is particularly special. When the horror does kick into gear, it's gruesome and effective. I'm not quite sure who the deranged one is – Ezra, or the film itself – but the title is certainly accurate, anyway.
Video and Audio:
Presented in High Definition 1080p, the film's infamous brain-removal scene has never looked so sharp and nasty. It sounds just as horrible as it looks. It's a little too dark in paces, but usually brightens itself out in time for the next set piece or murder sequence.
There’s an audio commentary and introduction by Tom Savini, trailers and collector's booklets/sleeve. There's also a featurette by Scott Spiegel in which he chats about Roberts Blossom and the film, and a natter about psychopaths and Ed Gein by Human Centipede 2 nutter Laurence R. Harvey.