|Director: Jeff Gillen, Alan Ormsby
Starring: Roberts Blossom, Cosette Lee, Leslie Carson
The infamous Wisconsin serial killer, Ed Gein has had many films inspired by him—Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho and Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre instantly come to mind—though perhaps, none are quite as unsettling as Deranged. Now, thanks to Arrow Video, this B-movie hit can be enjoyed on blu-ray, in all its unrated, brain-scooping glory.
Ezra Cobb is a farmhand and loner, who after his overbearing mother’s death, decides to dig her up and rebuild her. Her death scene is rather grotesque, let’s just say, I won’t look at pea soup the same way again. Ezra eventually becomes a seasoned grave robber, rebuilding not just his mother (another gruesome scene, the “brain scooping” is shown in full unrated grandeur) but stealing and rebuilding companions for her as well. His lust eventually guides him to kill, taking his first victim, a waitress from a bar. Another chilling scene is when the waitress walks into Ezra’s mother’s room and notices all the dead bodies propped up. Among them is Ezra, in a wig, wearing a human face “mask” and cranking an old organ.
At the beginning of the film, there’s a title card that states it is based on true events. It then shows us a “reporter” breaking the fourth wall and giving us little insights into the story. This happens randomly throughout the film, cutting away from the action to show the reporter, and seems unnecessary and ultimately distracts from the compelling character of Ezra.
Other than that minor grievance, the film is a violent, gory, B-movie masterpiece. Ultimately driven by Roberts Blossom’s performance and aided by effects savant Tom Savini.
The film is presented in its original 1:85:1 aspect ratio, and this blu-ray transfer certainly does a great job. Close-ups retain clarity fairly well, as well as outdoor scenes. Some shots have light, visible noise, but it doesn’t overwhelm. Film grain has not been erased (thankfully) and the image retains a natural, filmic look. There are no visible scratches, hairs, warps or anything to mar the transfer. Overall, this blu-ray transfer boasts a great presentation.
The LPCM Mono soundtrack shines, presenting both dialogue and chilling organ hymn cleanly and crisply. There’s no sign of hissing or popping, or any digital enhancements made to the original source audio.
There’s a wealth of extras on this Arrow release. An optional Introduction by special effects artist Tom Savini, as well as a Commentary track with him and Calum Waddel. Waddel has received quite a bit of flak for his previous moderator duties, though thankfully on this track, he takes a “back seat” allowing Savini almost full reign over the conversation.
There are three special features: The Wages of Sin comprises an interview with co-director Jeff Gillen accompanied by 16mm footage from the film and behind the scenes. Ed Gein: From Murder to Movies, comprises of an interview with Laurence R. Harvey (The Human Centipede II), where he discusses the psyche behind the eponymous killer. Finally there’s A Blossoming Brilliance, where Scott Spiegel (Evil Dead II) speaks about Roberts Blossom and the lasting legacy of Deranged.
An original trailer, stills gallery and a collector’s booklet, featuring a new essay on the film by Stephen Thrower, and an archive interview with producer Bob Clark and Calum Waddel, round out the rest of the extras.
Deranged may not be as well known as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, or Psycho, but what it lacks in notoriety, it makes up for in being a cult horror classic. It has truly creepy moments, while still retaining a dark sense of humor and wit (mostly thanks to Roberts Blossom’s performance). In short, the Arrow Video released Blu-ray is a definite, must-have for horror fanatics.
~ By Robert Vaughn
Robert Vaughn is a graduate of Montclair State University, NJ, with a B.F.A. in Filmmaking. Throughout his time in the program, he worked on various aspects of pre, pro and post-production. Writing has always been a favorite of his and he feels this “favoritism” shows in his work. Various professors, students, directors and actors have praised his writing ability. On top of writing for Diabolique, he has written for TV, written/co-written feature films for So Real? Entertainment and is currently working on a feature length dark comedy script of his own. Follow him on twitter: @rvaughn881