Deranged (1974)

Ed Gein has been the inspiration for a number of films, this being more faithful to the “source” than, say, Psycho or The Texas Chainsaw Massacre or even The Silence of the Lambs, but probably a lot less well-known than either of them. While not exactly a great film as such, at least not in the way those other three films are generally considered to be, Deranged nonetheless offers an interesting approach to its material by giving us this man who does fairly ghastly things, not in a “whoa, serial killers are cool” way but in a “Jesus Christ, that’s fucked up but who can fully blame him” way. Ed… sorry, Ezra is a middle-aged man with a mother problem, in that mother is a problematic figure; she’s dominated this poor chap, filled him full of the horrors of women and the world and everything, and passed on her psychosis to him. Basically, he makes Norman Bates look well-adjusted. The film has an on-screen narrator popping up every so often, which imparts a sort of “dramatic reconstruction for TV” feel to proceedings. Interesting, like I said, though maybe not entirely successful, and the film’s apparently low budget does kind of show through the seams at times, but, having said that the cheapness does ki d of enhance the grotty feel of things, and directors Jeff Gillen and Alan Ormsby—better known as actors and writers for Bob Clark—really scored with casting Roberts Blossom in the central role as Ezra… he gives a fascinating performance that leaves the nature of Ezra’s mental abnormality a somewhat open question. Plus the film’s horror history credentials are sealed by virtue of the filmmakers also giving Tom Savini his first makeup job (though my DVD copy lacks the notorious brain scene). A somewhat difficult film to approach at times, but not bad on the whole.

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