aka Deranged: Confessions Of A Necrophile
A seemingly innocuous farmer isn't quite the same after his possessive mother's death. He takes to first robbing graves, then committing murder to obtain parts to keep mother's body looking at its best...
Although named Ezra Cobb in the film, there's no doubting the true inspiration here. Deranged is arguably the nearest the cinema got to the truth behind Ed Gein's crimes (at least until the eponymously titled biopic of 2000). The alternative title isn't entirely apt, as Gein wasn't believed to have experimented with Necrophilia, but that wasn't the kind of thing to stop American International's marketing department...
Very atmospheric in places, it's quite disconcerting to have the action broken up as a narrator occasionally breaks the fourth wall and addresses the audience directly. There are one or two particularly gross moments, but the rest of the film is surprisingly restrained. Familiar character actor Roberts Blossom is very effective in the lead.
Deranged got overshadowed by another Gein-inspired film the same year, namely The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I personally find Deranged to be the better of the two films (I've always found the other to be somewhat overrated). That's not to say it's a great movie by any means, but it is quite effective in its own way, like a particularly out-there Crimewatch reconstruction. Worth a look.
BLU-RAY NOTES: Whichever way you look at it, this movie looks grotty. But then, that's probably the point, and the transfer on the Arrow Films release makes the most of the muted colour palette and the grainy stock. Considering the tiny budget, it looks quite impressive. Tom Savini's commentary is most enjoyable, as he reflects on his early career as well as the film (this was his second make-up credit). There are also interviews with Scott Spiegel and Laurence R. Harvey, the original trailer, and a booklet containing an archive interview with producer Bob Clark.
PURPLE RATING: 6/10
Canada/USA 1974 - Karr International Pictures/American International
Certificate - 18 (UK, originally X for edited version), Not Rated (USA)
Blu-Ray/DVD: Arrow Films (UK), MGM (USA - DVD only at time of writing)
Original Theatrical Trailer: