Deranged: Confessions of a Necrophile

08/30/2015 14:21

Film: Deranged: Confessions of a Necrophile

Year: 1974

Director: Jeff Gillen and Alan Ormsby

Writer: Alan Ormsby

Starring: Roberts Blossom, Cosette Lee and Leslie Carlson



This was a film that I discovered when looking through the Internet Movie Database for movie connections. What made me seek this out is that this is a more realistic take on Ed Gein. Since The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is borrowing things that he did as well, these are variations on the same source. I've now given this a rewatch as part of my
Foray through the Fours.

Synopsis: a deranged rural farmer becomes a grave robber and murderer after the death of his possessive mother, whose corpse he keeps, among others as his companions in a decaying farmhouse.

This film begins with a columnist named Tom Sims (Leslie Carlson) introducing himself. He served as a reporter for the case and narrates the events that we're going to see. This is following Ezra Cobb (Roberts Blossom). We learned that he was an odd guy to begin with. His father died when he was young, so it is just him and his mother, she is played by Cosette Lee.

We start with Ma not doing well. They live on a farm and Ezra does everything he can to take care of her. It jumps in the night that she passes away. Before she does, she tells him what he needs to know. Primarily women are bad and that he needs to stay away from them. Ezra tries to feed her, thinking that will help, but she ends up dying.

That is just the start. We then get a weird scene at her funeral where Ezra is sitting alone. A couple tries to console him. His response to them is that she's just fine. He doesn’t seem to realize that she isn't coming back.

Ezra carries on like this at home. He writes her letters like she is on vacation to deal with his loneliness. He also keeps her room the way she had it. Ezra even hears her voice to come get her. That's when he goes to the cemetery and digs her up. She has been dead for over a year and has begun to decay. Ezra sees it as her being happy that he's come to get her.

He puts her in his truck and during his drive home, is pulled over by the sheriff, played by Robert McHeady. Ezra was speeding and the sheriff asks what that the horrific smell is in the truck. Ezra tells him that if must be a dead hog that he butchered. He's allowed to go and gets his mother's corpse home.

Ezra sells of his farmland and gets hired as a handyperson with a local family. Harlon Kootz (Robert Warner) is the dad and they went to school together. His wife Jenny (Marcia Diamond) and they have two boys as well. Ezra learns what he can about embalming and taxidermy to keep his mother from decaying. He uses whatever he can to repair her, until he realizes the best thing is human flesh. He didn't know about the obituaries in the newspaper until Harlon brings it up. It makes graverobbing easier.

This is just the start of what he does. We then see him seeing out a woman his mother said he could trust, Maureen Selby (Marian Waldman). Things that Ma said stick with him though. He is also falls in love with a bartender Mary (Micki Moore) as well as Brad Kootz's girlfriend of Sally (Pat Orr). Ezra seems like a nice enough guy to everyone around him until they peak behind the facade.

That is where I'll leave my recap and introduction to the characters. Where I want to start is that according to trivia, this was the closer look at the true events of Gein until a movie came out in 2000. This also has a warning in the beginning that names and events have been altered to protect people, because at the time this was made, the real Gein was still alive which was wild to learn.

Now that I've got that set up, it wasn't shocking to learn that this movie struggled with its rating and to find places to show it. I've seen things that are worse than this, but the realism that is has makes it uncomfortable. That is aided by the fact that Blossom does a great job at playing this awkward character. It is also interesting that Robert Bloch was inspired to write the novel version of Psycho off Gein. In that version, he is overweight and gross, which from my understanding, the real Gein is closer to what we get here. Ezra is stunted by his education and things his mother drilled in while raising him. His father passing away early on in his life didn't help either. I just wanted to give credit to Blossom for his performance.

Something else that is wild to me is how this feels like a combination of Psycho and the Texas Chain Saw Massacre. The former would have been out for 13 years when this was being made. This movie also came out ahead of TCM. The coincidence is wild how they both have a dinner scene that is creepy. I don't think the classic borrowed from this, but it is possible. Incorporating in the elements of Norma Bates and what she did to her son is something that is here as well. My guess is that was taken from Gein's true life.

Now I do know that Gein wasn't a serial killer. If anything, he may have killed one or two people. He was primarily a graverobber. I do like that this follows close to the truth. There were things changed to make this more exciting, which you should expect. There is a sadness about Ezra that adds a layer. It goes away though once he gets a taste for killing though. That horrible feeling grows. I should pull in the effects here. This Tom Savini's first official film. What he does in making the bodies look real was great. That also adds another layer to this.

This is more of a character study of Ezra and that should be enough there. Let me get to the other performers. Lee works in her limited role as Ma. She becomes more of a specter that haunts Ezra. Her words keep coming back. Carlson is fine as this narrator. They do interesting things with editing and framing with him that I liked. Warner works as Harlon who's known Ezra for a while. Him along with the sheriff, McHeady, could stop Ezra, but they don't believe the evidence or things he says. I did like that as it raises tension. Diamond, Waldman, Moore, Orr, Smegal and the rest of the cast rounded this out for what was needed.

All that is left then is filmmaking. I've already said the effects were good. I've briefly said that I like what they do with cinematography, framing and editing. This was shot better than it had any business to be. It captures this small town feel and the isolation of what Ezra lives. It feels like Wisconsin. Other than that, the soundtrack fit what was needed without standing out. Credit to the sound design though to give us the voices that are haunting Ezra.

In conclusion, this is an intriguing, fictional look at Ed Gein. This is a character study of Ezra. I thought that Blossom and his performance was great. He can convey the awkwardness. The deeper that he descends into madness, we get a better look at how deranged he is. His supporting cast was good to enable him and push him to where he ends up. This is made well, with the cinematography, framing and the effects leading the way there. This is an uncomfortable movie. I want to make sure that it is known. If you like exploitation cinema, I'd give this one a watch for sure.


My Rating: 6.5 out of 10