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Delving into the Twisted World of 'Deranged' (1974)

Updated: Jul 9

Life can be a funny and terrifying thing. Hence why so many people repeat the mantra of ‘You have to feel comfortable in your own skin’. Unbeknownst to them, that mantra exists not to make us feel comfortable with ourselves, but to make sure that we are all aware that it’s illegal to wear someone else's… But that makes things very confusing when someone tells you to put on a happy face.

In this post for ‘Macabre Matinee', we’re going to be taking a look at the 1974 chiller ‘Deranged’.



‘Deranged’ is a low budget, psychological horror movie that was loosely based on the atrocious exploits of Ed Gein. It stars Roberts Blossom in the lead role and was directed by Jeff Gillen & Alan Ormsby.

‘Deranged’ tells the story of Ezra, a quirky middle-aged man who, after the death of his mother, is trying to navigate in a world that he doesn’t fully understand. Even though Ezra tries multiple tactics to help come to terms with his new way of life, including trying alcohol for the first time and going on a blind date, he soon comes to the conclusion that he can’t carry on without his Mother in his life. But she doesn’t need to be alive for Ezra to find the comfort that he is looking for.

Both before and after exhuming his mother, Ezra begins to experience auditory hallucinations. These hallucinations compel him to do things that no sane-minded person would do, but hey, sanity is overrated, especially in the horror genre. If Ezra were perfectly sane, we'd probably end up with a movie about flower arrangements and tax returns.

It’s not long before Ezra gets some creepy ideas firmly lodged into his cranium, and as a result, the killings begin. Who needs therapy when you can just start a murder spree, right? Move over, Freud, Ezra has his own unique way of dealing with mommy issues.



In a day and age where it’s quite common to see a big-budget Hollywood blockbuster shit the bed when it comes to tonal consistency, it’s truly impressive that the creative team behind ‘Deranged’ didn't let their low budget stop them from achieving a consistent tone that'll make you squirm in your seat. They didn't need a lavish score to haunt your nightmares; they let the awkward silence and unsettling scenes fester under your skin like a bug that just won't buzz off.

Even though later in his life he would consider ‘Deranged’ to be a dreadful movie, actor Roberts Blossom seems to relish bringing the character of Ezra to life. From the moment the opening titles roll, we know we're in for a treat as we watch Ezra embark on a murder spree. It's a peculiar kind of charm, falling for a character whose state of arrested development will ultimately develop in to his arrest—talk about an unconventional character arc.

While some supporting cast members have fleeting appearances, the more prominent ones, like Micki Moore, who plays Mary, a bartender responsible for getting Ezra drunk, do an excellent job portraying confident characters who promptly lose their composure when confronted with Ezra's sinister side. But to make things even better, these performances are coupled with scenes that boast morbid visuals, allowing the cinematography to shine brighter than the blade of a freshly sharpened knife.



Sadly, ‘Deranged' is far from being a flawless flick. There are brief moments where humour is introduced to the storyline. Now, introducing humour in a horror movie isn't a terrible sin to commit. It's just that when you have a creepy tone and aesthetic that engulfs the entire movie, it can be a little jarring when the humor doesn't create the desired contrast. It's like mixing eyeballs and ice cream—it might work for some, but for others, it's a taste bud nightmare.

On top of this, while the set dressing for the scenes that take place in Ezra’s farmhouse has been put together well, it seems a little odd when we enter scenes at a funeral or a bar that appear to be cheaply thrown together at a moment's notice.

The addition of a narrator who presents himself as a news reporter or documentarian isn't a bad touch. However, he seems to appear frequently at the beginning of the movie and is then forgotten about and almost abandoned.

While there are plenty of poignant moments throughout the flick, there are also verbal exchanges where the dialogue doesn't quite cut the mustard. Instead, it just gives you a hot dog covered in yellow disappointment.

And just to add insult to injury, some of the supporting cast who have brief roles appear to have learnt how to act from the guidance of an oak tree.



Considering that the serial killer Ed Gein influenced and inspired many horror movies, it comes as a surprise that ‘Deranged’ is not talked about more often. The movie may not have aged well in the eyes of some, but it can’t be denied that is an effective and entertaining piece of low-budget cinema.

And while the character of Ezra may not have the witty banter of Freddy Krueger, the raw aggression of Jason Vorhees or the terrifying presence of Pinhead, he still manages to stay in your mind and leave an impression long after the credits have rolled.

‘Deranged' is a quaint horror movie ideal for old-school horror fans looking for something to watch while having a few beers with their friends on a quiet Sunday evening. It's the perfect blend of chills, thrills, and a little liquid courage.

That's why I'm happy to give 'Deranged' four out of five chainsaws.

If you’re a fan of horror and enjoy delving into past entries from the bowels of horror cinema, then this is definitely a flick you should check out.


Thank you for reading. I’ll be back with another review soon. Until then, feel free to head on over to my website and sign up for my mailing list. Upon doing so, you’ll receive a free digital copy of the first issue of my outlaw horror comic mini-series ‘Ed Gein: Demon Hunter’ .

Until next time, take of yourselves, take care of each other and stay awesome!