Confessions of a Necrophile!!!

Pretty Sally Mae died a very unnatural death, but the worst hasn’t happened to her yet.

 

DERANGED (1974)

A newspaper columnist named Tom Sims narrates the incredible story. A human horror story of ghastly proportions and profound reverberations. But because it is human perhaps we can learn something from it. Something of ourselves, of our own fears, and needs. But please be warned, nothing has been left to the imagination. It is not a story for the squeamish or fainthearted. It is the story of Ezra Cobb: murderer, grave robber, necrophiliac perhaps, or as you may remember him from the stories of long ago – the butcher of woodside.

Ezra spent the entirety of his deranged life living on a desolate farm with his overbearing religious fanatic mother. Years of loving devotion masked a growing psychosis which came to the surface when his mother became deathly ill. On her deathbed, Ma Cobb instructed Ezra to call after Maureen Selby – the only woman she ever did trust. Ma Cobb trusted Maureen because she’s fat, a big heifer, but a good hearted woman. As for the rest of them, they’re a lot of filthy black souled sluts with pus filled sores. Ma has told Ezra many times that the wages of sin is gonorrhea, syphilis, and death. She also offered a prophetic warning that they’ll use their bodies to steal his life and soul. Ez listens like a good boy and then lovingly shoves pea soup down her throat until she finally pukes up blood and dies.

More than a year passes, but Ez stubbornly refuses to accept the reality of his mother’s death. He visits her grave almost daily, and at home he kept her bed room neat and warm, as if waiting for her return. The outside world found him eccentric but harmless, but the loneliness inside him had grown into a vast abyss. The pain of his loss had pushed him at last over the precipice of madness. One night as he tries to sleep Ezra hears his Mother’s voice, commanding him at last to bring her home. Ezra as always obeys his mother and grabs a shovel.

Perhaps in his twisted mind he imagined she would look the way she had in life. After exhuming her corpse he learns the hard way that momma is not as pretty, or as sturdy as she used to be, especially when one of her rotting limbs comes loose. So he brought her home. The next step was her restoration, which was not an easy job. Ezra began to experiment with various embalming and taxidermy techniques. He patched her decaying features with with fish skin, wax, and any other substance he thought resembled human flesh. It wasn’t until later that the idea of using real flesh occurred to him.

Ironically enough, it was one of Ezra’s neighbors who accidentally gave him the inspiration. A casual suppertime conversation about a former teacher of Ez’s named old Miss Johnson kicking the bucket leads to Ezra discovering what an obituary is. How when a person dies they print all of the information about how they died, where and where they’re being buried, and all that kind of stuff. Yes sir, that there is some real valuable information. Ezra decides to dig up old Miss Johnson and donate her face to science. He also keeps her skull as a bizarre trophy and companion to his mother’s corpse. After that, Ezra made many more visits to the graveyard, bringing home bodies or parts of bodies to keep his mother and himself company. He was a ghoul, a necromaniac, a defiler of the dead, but he had not yet turned his sickness on a living victim. It was only a matter of time until he did.

The same helpful neighbors that taught Ezra the values of the obituary column take an interest in his love life and pressure him into getting married. Ezra’s first attempt at finding a living female companion had him getting all gussied up and calling upon that big heifer Maureen Selby. Maureen winds up being almost as eccentric as Ezra however, and she happily admits to talking to the spirit of her dead husband Herbert. Ezra takes a liking to her flabby arms and her cute little belly, but also fears he might get stuck in all that fat. He also suspects she might not be right in the head. His suspicions are later confirmed when she attempts to seduce Ezra via a seance. Ezra is tempted by the pleasures of the flesh and gets a happy handful of the heifer’s milkbags, but ultimately is overpowered by his dead mother’s warnings about the wages of sin and decides to permanently put the cow out to pasture with a bullet to the head.

The violent death of Maureen Selby did little to effect Ez, except he now started craving the companionship of other women. He left the farm and began spending his evenings at a local watering hole called Goldie’s Tavern, lusting after an over the hill 34 year old barmaid named Mary Ransom. Ezra had never seen a beautiful, promiscuous woman before, and the thought that she might make herself available to him was overwhelming to him. Ez gets smashed for the first time on whiskey sours and finally summons enough liquid courage to bring Mary home to meet his mother. Predictably, Ez & Mary’s first and only date does not end well.

Ez then sets his murderous sights on a pretty young thing named Sally who worked at the town’s hardware store. This is where the worst begins. There is where we must stop, for beyond is the work of madness, the nightmare of insane murder and lingering death, for Mary it was only the beginning, for Maureen it was already too late, for Sally the worst was yet to come, and only Misses Cobb knew what he would do next. Sometimes you don’t want to believe what you see, but sometimes it’s true.

1974 was truly a banner year for fans and followers of Wisconsin’s notorious necrophile Ed Gein. That year saw the release of not one, but two incredible motion pictures that were based upon his real life atrocities – Tobe Hooper’s immortal clas-sick “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” and Jeff Gillen & Alan Ormsby’s DERANGED. Old Ed had previously been the inspiration for Hitchcock’s blockbuster “Psycho” back in 1960, and the Gein inspired low budget shocker “Three On A Meathook” directed by William Girdler was released in 1973. Ormsby’s script for “Deranged” stands out from the pack by being the most accurate depiction of Gein’s story, and the film possesses an especially gritty and realistic documentary style. It’s also more a lot more morbidly amusing than “TCM” or “Meathook.” This is a true “Geiner” – a sick nasty joke that inspires gross out giggles.

Deranged” was co-directed by Jeff Gillen and Alan Ormsby, who had both previously worked with Bob Clark on “Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things” and “Deathdream.” Interestingly enough, Clark was originally approached to direct “Deranged” but wound up turning down the offer because the film was too explicitly gruesome for his tastes and made “Black Christmas” instead. The one and only Tom Savini had made his debut a year earlier working on Clark’s “Deathdream” and got the gig on “Deranged” creating the film’s impressive makeup effects, alongside Jerome Bergson and the multi-talented Alan Ormsby. Sadly, many of the film’s most disgusting moments, including Ezra’s attempts at patching up his mother’s face and the revolting sequence where Ez removes his old teacher’s eyeballs with a spoon and then saws open her skull and scoops out her brains were later trimmed from the film so it could secure a GP rating and receive a wider release. Even in a truncated form, “Deranged” still manages to trump “Texas Chain Saw Massacre” in the blood, guts, and breasts departments and has earned a reputation as one of the earliest and most savage of the many Gein inspired “meat” movies.

The highlight of the film for me is the incredibly horrifying sequence where Ezra brings home Mary to meet his mother and the rest of the ladies. Roberts Blossom is fantastic as he describes the many nights the ladies spend playing bridge on the porch, laughing and eating. His fiddle and drum talents are equally impressive. Blossom did an incredible job with his performance as Ezra Cobb. He plays the role with just the right combination of bat shit insanity and tongue in cheek black humor. His performance as a necrophile is sometimes chilling, often comical, and always unforgettable, and he truly deserves a mention as one of the screen’s all time great maniacs. It’s a shame that this film is so often overlooked in favor of “TCM” or even the more recent “Ed Gein,” as it possesses more of that gallows humor and comes much closer to capturing Ed’s deranged spirit of wide eyed wonder as he stares into the necrosphere.

MGM released DERANGED on dvd as one half of a kick ass Midnite Movies double feature along with the 1980 hicks in the sticks epic “Motel Hell.” On the positive side of things, both films were nicely remastered and the double sided disc includes the original theatrical trailers. Sadly, MGM used the heavily edited AIP version of“Deranged” for this release – which unfortunately makes this a good, but not great purchase. I would love to see special edition dvds of both of these clas-sicks, but “Deranged” in particular is screaming for an UNCUT special edition release. Do it for momma! And apologize for calling her a hog!

 

KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING!!!

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