Director – Jeff Gillen, Alan Ormsby
Cast – Roberts Blossom, Cosette Lee, Leslie Carlson, Robert Warner, Marcia Diamond, Brian Smeagle, Arlene Gillen, Robert McHeady, Marian Waldman
Release Year – 1974
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Horror films made to depict the lives of real-life serial-killers are some of the most interesting out there due our obsession with them and the films being somewhat factual, and Deranged: Confessions of a Necrophile is one of the best there is. Based on the story of killer/cannibal Ed Gein, we are given a fantastic and very well-executed experience heavy on character play and the psychotic mayhem plaguing rural Wisconsin. The horror is strong and sure to leave a lasting impression on the viewer, making for a film I highly recommend to those seeking a great experience in the serial-killer sub-genre.
After the death of his possessive mother, the deranged Ezra Cobb(Roberts Blossom) begins robbing graves in order to keep her body preserved and with him forever. When a good samaritan family looks to help Ezra move on by setting him up with a lady, he remembers his mother’s warnings of the opposite sex – setting off a killing spree to rid the town of the heathenish women that adorn it.
Wrtier (and co-director) Alan Ornsby really showed his writing talent in following Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead things with this solid screenplay that I found heavily engaging. Ezra Cobb was perfectly executed, first coming off as an innocent man devoted to his dying mother both before and after her death. It is not until he is paired with the opposite sex that he drowns himself in a murderous rampage to keep his life pure and free from sin. There are numerous awesome kill sequences written into the story, which also come with a few good spooks that I found highly enjoyable and did not expect to see in a serial-killer film. We get quite a few characters thrown into this piece, all of which provided positively to the film in their own right – some to move the story, some to befriend Ezra, and some to die. Nearly the entire film focuses on Ezra himself, and I applaud Ornsby for writing him so well. I honestly felt bad for the man at times, which is something that rarely happens with the way writers/directors execute their killers, and we are forced to watch a man who knew nothing more in life than to love his mother and keep everyone else at bay, a way of life that eventually lead to his downfall as a human being.
Ornsby co-directed with Jeff Gillen and brought his awesome storyline to life with great atmosphere and superb execution of Ezra Cobb. Actor Roberts Blossom was brilliant as Ezra and perfectly portrayed the man and all of his different emotions, from sadness and pain to anger and exploitation of the opposite sex. His performance felt real and he out-shined every other actor in the film, and it seems Ornsby and Gillen knew of his talent and latched on for the ride. Their execution of the horror was fantastic, giving us slow-burning kill sequences that also came with some good spook as well, including one scene (Ezra dressed as a woman) that I will never forget due to how downright scary and awesome it was. We don’t get much as far as outright gore goes but we are given great live-action FX for the numerous bodies and appendages adorning Ezra’s home, which included the mutilation of bodies in order to preserve his mother, a woman I can’t say “aged” very well.
Overall, Deranged: Confessions of a Necrophile is one of the best serial-killer horror films of all time. The screenplay is great and gives us an excellent protagonist/antagonist, resulting in heavy character development and numerous kill sequences written and executed to full potential in this highly recommended mid-70s effort.