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Film / Deranged

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Deranged (also known as Deranged: Confessions of a Necrophile) is a 1974 Canadian psychological horror film directed by Alan Ormsby and Jeff Gillen and starring Roberts Blossom (in his only leading role), Cosette Lee, Leslie Carlson, Robert Warner, Marcia Diamond, Marian Waldman, and Micki Moore. The film is a Roman à Clef based on the crimes of the infamous serial killer/grave robber Ed Gein, here renamed Ezra Cobb. The film's visual effects were provided by a young Tom Savini.

Not to be confused with the 2012 film of the same name.

Provides examples of the following tropes:

  • An Arm and a Leg: It's heavily implied via Ezra's comment about Mary being "all over the place" that he dismembered her corpse in the process of killing and skinning her.
  • Berserk Button: For Ezra, speaking ill of his mother or damaging her corpse is a surefire way to earn a messy death at his hands.
  • Black Comedy: Elements of dark humour are sprinkled throughout the film. The most notable example occurs when Ezra is talking to his mother's corpse about how crazy and fat Maureen was while casually munching on a chicken leg.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: At the end of the film, the townspeople find Ezra laughing over the corpse of his latest victim. Simms then states that said townspeople showed up the following day armed with Torches and Pitchforks and burned down his house, though whether or not they actually succeeded in killing him is left somewhat ambiguous.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: The reporter character Tom Simms occasionally interrupts the film and addresses the audience, usually to serve as Mr. Exposition.
  • Female Misogynist: Ezra's mother Amanda believes all other women to be sinful and perverted, with the exception of their neighbour Maureen, if only because she is fat and not conventionally attractive. When she dies, Maureen ends up becoming her son's first victim.
  • Genuine Human Hide: Ezra breaks into graves in order to exhume the bodies and skin the corpses in an attempt to reconstruct his mother's decaying body. Eventually, he starts killing people in order to take their skins.
  • Gorn: Some scenes are quite gruesome for such an unassuming horror flick, most notably Mary's death and the scene where Ezra dissects a corpse and scoops out pieces of its brain. Many of these scenes had to be cut in order for the film to avoid being slapped with an X rating by the MPAA.
  • Gory Deadly Overkill Title of Fatal Death: Deranged: Confessions of a Necrophile.
  • Hearing Voices: Following his mother's death, Ezra begins hearing voices in his head telling him to exhume her corpse and preserve her body.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: Ezra develops an obsession with an attractive young barmaid, Mary Ransum, and later kidnaps her in an attempt to force her to marry him. Mary attempts to flee but is quickly incapacitated and bound in Ezra's closet. When she awakens, Ezra tries to force her to have dinner with him and his corpses and then attempts to molest her, but Mary once again attempts to fight back by flinging his mother's corpse at him, hitting his Berserk Button and resulting in him beating her to death.
  • The Mentally Disturbed: Even leaving aside his ghoulish crimes, Ezra clearly isn't there mentally.
  • Mummies at the Dinner Table: Ezra kidnaps barmaid Mary Ransum and then introduces her to the various corpses (including his mother's) that he's unearthed and mutilated, so they can all have dinner together before he "marries" her.
  • My Beloved Smother: Ezra's mother Amanda is a domineering religious fanatic who indoctrinates him to believe that all other women are sinners. When she dies, her son completely loses his mind and becomes a serial killing grave robber.
  • Never Trust a Title: The film's subtitle is very misleading as Ezra never engages in necrophilia at any point, although as Simms points out on several occasions, the word can also refer to one with an obsessive level of interest in death and corpses.
  • No Ending: The film ends with the sheriff, his deputy, and Harlan Kootz finding Mary's dismembered body in the barn and Ezra at the dinner table with his collection of dug-up bodies, cackling over a bowl of blood... upon which the film ends with a freeze-frame where Simms' narration simply states that his farmhouse was burned down three days later. There is literally nothing saying what became of Ezra, if he was immediately arrested and thrown into the slammer for the rest of his life, was thrown into the nuthouse for the same length of time, if the three men were so appalled and disgusted by his actions that they gunned him down right there at the dinner table, or if they collectively pulled a Screw This, I'm Outta Here and Ezra was killed when his house was burnt down.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Due to his sheltered upbringing by a domineering mother, Ezra affects a creepily childlike disposition.
  • Roman à Clef: The names are changed and a few of the details altered, but overall the film sticks fairly close to the real-life events, certainly more so than other films inspired by Gein's crimes such as Psycho, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), and The Silence of the Lambs.
  • Villain Protagonist: The Grave Robbing Serial Killer Ezra Cobb serves as the film's protagonist.