Obviously based on Wisconsin killer, Ed Gein, Ezra Cobb (Roberts Blossom), is a mama’s boy in all the wrong ways. After losing his Bible-beating mother, a woman quick to point out the evils of women, Ezra decides the only way to soothe his fractured soul is to dig up dear old mom. Disappointed in her deteriorating appearance, Ezra becomes obsessed with taxidermy in hopes of repairing the rotting corpse. He eventually turns to darker methods of “preservation”.
Deranged has its moments. They’re sparse and scattered, but there nonetheless. Blossom is great in this low-budget shocker, adding a twist of genuine enthusiasm that carries the character; if only he had somewhere to go. The film is a slow burn, often derailed by the on-screen narrative that might imply we’re too dumb to put the pieces together. Released in 1974, the same year as the iconic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Deranged actually claims to be based on facts surrounding Gein. I found this to be just one more annoying facet of the film.
Even with a great lead, Deranged simply drags its feet and meanders towards a no-climax ending. Horror fans will enjoy the grisly nature of Ezra’s interests, but undoubtedly nod off as the story snakes and turns towards a lack of payoff. I’m sure this was a freaky flick by 1974’s standards, but it ultimately goes nowhere. If this stood the test of time, I’d be standing in line at Deranged-Fest, and not to meet Kane Hodder one more time. It’s worth the time if you’re an obsessive horror fan, and worth it for history’s sake, but not much else. Swing and a miss, 1974. Props for trying to feed your dying mother pea soup as she’s choking on blood.