Based on the Ed Gein case, a deranged rural farmer becomes a grave robber and murderer after the death of his possessive mother whom he keeps her corpse, among others, as his companions in his decaying farmhouse.
Real life serial killer Ed Gein has to be the one of the most notorious and sadistic serial killers to ever walk the face of the Earth. Countless stories and films have been made about him, or at least modeled after him. 'Silence of the Lambs', 'Psycho', and 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre' was based off of Ed Gein's killings. Not only did Ed Gein kill his victims, but he cut their skin off and wore it on his body.
He carved them up and took their organs and bones and decorated his house with them, and even made furniture with the body parts. Gein was into some other depraved acts as well, but we won't get into that. In 1974, 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' was released, and changed the horror genre forever. It gave us a look at a crazy family in Texas that killed and tortured a variety of people. It started with a narration by John Larroquette, telling us that what we are about to see is a true story.
Even the movie looked like it could have been a handheld documentary, and it gave the world Leatherface. That same year of 1974, a much lesser known film, known as 'Deranged: The Confessions of a Necrophile' was also released. While 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' only took a little bit from the life of Ed Gein, mostly being how he killed and tortured people, 'Deranged' pretty much followed closely the serial killer in his life before he started his killing spree, his motive to start, and him committing the heinous acts.
One of the only things that was changed were the names, as we follow a farmer by the name of Ezra Cobb, played by Roberts Blossom. You wouldn't recognize Blossom here, but you'd remember him as Old Man Marly from 'Home Alone'. Ezra lives with his dying mother (Cosette Lee) on the farm, as she constantly yells at him about the evilness and sins of all women. After his mother dies and he buries her, Ezra starts to loose his mind. Several months later, he digs up his mother's corpse and decides to but her bones back together to make her a full person again, but he needs skin. That's when he starts digging up other corpses and soon starts murdering fresh people and "experimenting" with their insides to further is creations and decorate his house.
This film is quite suspenseful and has a good flow to it, never slowing down to a crawl, but what makes this movie work most is the character development we see with Ezra. There is even a documentary feel to it, as a "reporter" enters the screen to narrate what's happening on screen. It's a fantastic addition to the storytelling in this film. In so many movies like this, we only get the crazy murderous people from the start, never understanding why they do what they do. Here, we get a glimpse of what a terrible life Ezra had under the clutches of his sadistic and bible thumping mother. You begin to sympathize with him, and that makes him have a human quality throughout, rather than the monster he really was.
Blossom does an amazing job conveying Ezra's transformation into a killer, as well as showing those tender and raw emotions in dealing with his evil mother. It's a truly satisfying performance, as is the whole film. The blood, guts, and gore are magnificent too, as makeup legend Tom Savini was the makeup artist on this movie, making this his debut film to work on. 'Deranged' is a long lost film that most people don't know about that follows one of the most vicious serial killers that ever lived, and it holds up through the test of time as well as can stand with the other iconic movies mentioned in this review.
'Deranged' comes with a great 1080p HD transfer presented in 1.85:1 aspect ratio. This low budget film was made back in 1974, making this over 40 years old. Being this age, this new transfer looks very good. The detail is quite sharp, considering the age and low budget of the film. Closeups looks the best here, which provide nice facial features and costume textures throughout, specifically in the well-lit scenes.
The blood, guts, and gore look equally good too, showing every bit of gruesome detail. Colors are well preserved and balanced too. I wouldn't go as far as to say every single color pops of screen, but the blood red color certainly does. Black levels are deep and the skin tones are natural. There is a fine layer of grain that is consistent throughout and never fluctuates, keeping this movie in its filmic state. There is a little bit of video noise, some instances of flicker, and some minor print damage throughout, but other than that, this video presentation looks quite good, leaving it with great marks.
This release comes with a great DTS-HD MA 2.0 stereo mix and sounds great for being over 40 years old. The sound effects are fantastic, especially where it counts, meaning when the horror and gore splashes on screen. You'll hear every squish, splash, and bone crunch nicely. The ambient sounds in the rural settings also sound great, providing nice immersion with the surroundings.
The score is haunting and eerie, and only shows up when needed, and never drowns out any dialogue or sound effects. The dialogue is always clear and easy to follow along with, with zero pops, cracks, hiss, or shrills. The LFE is great and the dynamic range is rather wide, leaving this stereo mix with great marks.
Audio Commentary #1 - This commentary is with writer and director Alan Ormsby who provides a wealth of information, regarding the origins of the story, the real life serial killer, filming on location, and casting the actors. He also talks about working with all of the gore effects and makeup artist Tom Savini.
Commentary #2 - This second commentary is with Richard Harland Smith, who is a film historian who discusses the making of the film, the lives of the cast and crew, and how in the early 70s, a ton of films were made based off serial killers, particularly Ed Gein.
Interview (SD, 18 Mins.) - This must be the strangest interview I've ever seen on a Blu-ray. It's with producer Tom Karr who talks about making the movie, stories from the set, and a possible remake. Why is it strange though? This interview was filmed present day, but looks like it was filmed twenty years ago, with bad editing and sound.
Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2 Mins.) - Trailer for the film.
'Deranged' is one of those films you never knew about, but it will leave you completely satisfied after you watch it. We've never really seen Ed Gein's story told like this before and it was a real treat to see the horrible serial killer prior to his murder and torture spree. Roberts Blossom is simply fantastic in this role as well. He's so good in this, that you'll now forever remember him as Ezra Cobb rather than Old Man Marley from 'Home Alone'. The video and audio are both great here, and the extras are worth watching, even if a bit strange. No need to think long about this one. This comes highly recommended.