Retro Review: Deranged: Confessions of a Necrophile

Deranged (1974)This weekend was one where I watched a few films I have been dying to get my hands on. First was the insane alien flick Xtro, then came the post-apocalyptic Roddy Piper movie Hell Comes to Frogtown. To round out the weekend, I watched the Ed Gein-inspired Deranged: Confessions of a Necrophile. As someone who has always had an interest in serial killer, especially movies about them, I had been dying to see Deranged for quite some time.

The film follows a shy man named Ezra Cobb (based on famed serial killer Ed Gein). Ezra is taking care of his very ill mother, who is a very domineering individual and has poisoned Ezra’s view of women. She claims that all women are bad and will give him diseases. As she is his closest friend and confidant, Ezra becomes incredibly distressed when she finally passes away. He soon begins have hallucinations, thinking his mother is contacting him from beyond the grave. He digs up her corpse in an effort to be with her, and begins reconstructing her physically with the features of other corpses. Soon he realizes that he must commit acts even more atrocious than grave robbing to fulfill his need.

Overall there is a lot to love about this movie. While not really a slasher flick, and not overly gory, the film still manages to feel sleazy and dirty. The idea of a grave robbing and murderous mama’s boy already sends the creep factor off the charts, but the coup de grace is the performance by Roberts Blossom (interestingly enough, he played the old man with the snow shovel in Home Alone). The way he conveyed the simple-minded, easily influenced Ezra was so good it actually made you a little sympathetic to him. Loneliness and isolation turn Ezra from a slow farmer to a diabolical psychopath who truly does not see what he’s doing as wrong.

Horror fans are typically well aware that there have been a plethora of movies based on Gein and his atrocities, including such classics as The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Psycho. Flicks like these are loosely based on Gein, while Deranged aims to be a more faithful representation (despite changing the names of the people and locations). While not a completely accurate portrayal, this is probably my favorite of these types of films. You really get a sense of the different factors that led Ezra (and Gein himself) to act out the way he did.

Roberts Blossom in Deranged (1974)

In sum, I really enjoyed Deranged: Confessions of a Necrophile. Roberts Blossom’s performance as the Ed Gein-inspired protagonist help create a hauntingly chilling piece of macabre cinema. Director Alan Ormsby did a fantastic job bringing this disturbing piece of Americana to the silver screen. While lacking the overall punch of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (which came out the same year), this is a must see for any fans of true crime and horror.

IMDb Rating: 6.5/10

My Rating: 7.5/10


About Chuck Ransford 100 Articles
Ah now for the one thing everyone loathes...writing about themselves! Well for starters, my name is Chuck, and I am a south Jersey transplant living in Amish country. I’ve been a horror fan since 5th grade, about 16 years ago. My horror fandom started when I got my hands on a copy of Jay Anson’s novel The Amityville Horror. The book terrified me, and I knew I just had to watch the movie. An older cousin of mine had a copy of it, and that was the genesis of my obsession with the genre. Over the years I have expressed my horror fandom in many ways. Since about 2005 I have been regularly attending horror conventions. These have been great ways to amass collectibles, movies, and to meet some of my favorite celebrities. My best friend Mike and I used to run our own horror blog years ago, and we also dabbled in script writing. I am looking forward to going back to writing about horror, something I’ve always loved. When I’m not working (I work at PNC Bank), my non-horror interests are studying theology and economics, watching Japanese tokusatsu, and doing play-by-play commentary for professional wrestling. I’m also a member of the Barbershop Harmony Society and singing in a Barbershop quartet. Oh, and I’m probably the biggest fan of the Golden Girls you’ll ever meet. My top 5 horror flicks (definitely subject to change): 1. Cannibal Holocaust (1980) 2. Basket Case (1982) 3. Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) 4. The Beyond (1981) 5. Dawn of the Dead (1978)