Friday, May 5, 2006

Deranged (1974)

Deranged is based on the exploits of serial killer Ed Gein, who also inspired The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Psycho, and countless other films. The lead character this time is named Ezra Cobb. Ezra is a dedicated son, caring for his mother well into his 40s on their small farm. When his mother becomes ill, he spends all of his time caring for her until the day she dies in their home. On her deathbed, Mama tells Ezra not to trust any other women because they are all "sluts" who will "use their bodies" to get to his money.

After Ezra buries his mother, he stops farming and takes a handyman position with the neighbors, the Kootz's. He becomes extremely lonely and isolated, visiting his mother's grave up to five times a week. He misses his mother so much he begins talking with her and mimics her responses in her voice. After a year, he digs her body up and brings her home. On the way home, he is pulled over by a cop for speeding. The cop notices the foul smell of the rotting corpse in the truck. Ezra explains that the smell is coming from a slaughtered hog he forgot to clean out of the truck. The cop lets him go, and Ezra heads home with his mother. He sets her up in her old bedroom, which he has kept clean and warm for her return.

Ezra notices that Mama isn't looking too well (well, she is a rotting corpse) and decides to fix her up. He researches taxidermy and body preservation extensively, trying all sorts of different skins on Mama. Yet, none of them look like human skin. Ezra finds out about the obituary section in the local newspaper, telling him when people are freshly buried. He starts digging up bodies to use to patch up his mother's rotting skin. Soon after, he uses the bodies as "friends" for his mother, placing them around her room.

As he slips deeper and deeper into madness, he visits an old friend of his Mama's. She tries to seduce him, but the only thing he can think about in bed is his mother warning him of women. Soon, he begins a gruesome killing spree to find companions for his deceased mother...

This film was made in 1974 and it is still effectively creepy. Ezra's mannerisms alone are unnatural and frightening. The organ music that plays throughout sets the eerie atmosphere. I also like the realism that was used; a certain grittiness that almost made it seem like a documentary. The film does employ a narrator, which hinders the story a bit but didn't bother me too much. I was pleasantly surprised by this film, and recommend that if you like stories about serial killers filmed in gritty 70s style to check it out.

Check it out on Amazon!

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