Deranged (1974)

R | 82-83 mins | Horror | 1974

Directors:

Jeff Gillen, Alan Ormsby

Writer:

Alan Ormsby

Producer:

Tom Karr

Cinematographer:

Jack McGowan

Production Designer:

Albert Fisher

Production Company:

Karr International Pictures
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HISTORY

A title card with the following message precedes the film: “The motion picture you are about to see is absolutely true. Only the names and locations have been changed.”
       According to an Apr 1994 issue of Fangoria , Roberts Blossom’s character “Ezra Cobb” was based on real-life murderer Ed Gein. Producer Tom Karr became interested in Gein’s story as a child, and, after working as a concert promoter for prominent rock and roll bands such as Led Zeppelin and Three Dog Night, funded the film with $200,000 of his own money. Alan Ormsby’s screenplay, originally titled Necromania , contained too much dark humor in Karr’s opinion. Given the chance to make the film over again, Karr commented that he would not include any humor, which only detracted from the horrific subject matter. The producer also rewrote half the film, namely adding the scenes in which Cobb exhumes his mother’s decaying corpse, brings it home, and tends to it. Though the additions were not true to life (Gein never removed her body from the grave), they echoed aspects of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960, see entry), another film which took inspiration from Gein’s story.
       To ensure a snowy landscape during production, which took place in Feb and Mar 1973, filmmakers decided to shoot in Oshawa, Canada. The cast was entirely Canadian, with the exception of Blossom, who was hired after casting agent Vic Ramos held last-minute auditions for the lead role in New York, NY. Harvey Keitel and Christopher Walken also tried out for the role of Cobb.
       Locations used in the film included an “abandoned farmhouse,” a local hardware store, and the “basement lounge” of ... More Less

A title card with the following message precedes the film: “The motion picture you are about to see is absolutely true. Only the names and locations have been changed.”
       According to an Apr 1994 issue of Fangoria , Roberts Blossom’s character “Ezra Cobb” was based on real-life murderer Ed Gein. Producer Tom Karr became interested in Gein’s story as a child, and, after working as a concert promoter for prominent rock and roll bands such as Led Zeppelin and Three Dog Night, funded the film with $200,000 of his own money. Alan Ormsby’s screenplay, originally titled Necromania , contained too much dark humor in Karr’s opinion. Given the chance to make the film over again, Karr commented that he would not include any humor, which only detracted from the horrific subject matter. The producer also rewrote half the film, namely adding the scenes in which Cobb exhumes his mother’s decaying corpse, brings it home, and tends to it. Though the additions were not true to life (Gein never removed her body from the grave), they echoed aspects of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960, see entry), another film which took inspiration from Gein’s story.
       To ensure a snowy landscape during production, which took place in Feb and Mar 1973, filmmakers decided to shoot in Oshawa, Canada. The cast was entirely Canadian, with the exception of Blossom, who was hired after casting agent Vic Ramos held last-minute auditions for the lead role in New York, NY. Harvey Keitel and Christopher Walken also tried out for the role of Cobb.
       Locations used in the film included an “abandoned farmhouse,” a local hardware store, and the “basement lounge” of the cast and crew’s hotel. However, most of the filming took place on sets constructed at a nearby motion picture studio owned by a Ukrainian company. To inform his set dressing, which included stacks of crime and pornographic magazines inside Cobb’s farmhouse, art director Albert Fisher read news stories about Gein.
       The song, “The Old Rugged Cross” was used multiple times in the film due to budget constraints. To achieve an ‘R’ rating, filmmakers edited down a sequence involving Micki Moore’s character “Mary,” and took out an entire scene portraying a dissection. Seeking distribution, Karr showed Deranged to producer Joe Solomon, an agent at the William Morris Agency, and distributors Crown International and Fanfare, all of whom passed before American International Pictures agreed to release the film.
       A 25 Jul 1979 Var news item reported that Karr was found guilty of fraud against a business partner, W. S. Jordan, and American International Pictures. Karr failed to disclose Jordan’s involvement as a “majority partner” in Deranged when he made a distribution deal with American International and had accepted advance payments from the company totaling $125,000. The news item stated that Jordan had “previously won $115,000 damages against Karr.”
More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
29 Apr 1974
p. 4684.
Daily Variety
26 Feb 1974.
---
Fangoria
Apr 1994
pp. 50-55.
Los Angeles Times
22 Mar 1974.
---
Variety
27 Feb 1974
p. 18.
Variety
25 Jul 1979.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCER
Prod
WRITER
Orig scr, Orig scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Cam op
Asst op
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
SET DECORATOR
Prop master
COSTUMES
MUSIC
SOUND
Boom man
Sd mixer
Sd mixer
Post prod facilities
VISUAL EFFECTS
Titles by
MAKEUP
Makeup
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Attorney
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Necromania
Deranged: The confessions of a Necrophile
Release Date:
1974
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 20 March 1974
Production Date:
February--March 1973
Copyright Claimant:
American International Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
8 February 1974
Copyright Number:
LP44130
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Movielab
Widescreen/ratio
1.85:1
Lenses/Prints
Color print by Quinn Labs
Duration(in mins):
82-83
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Tom Simms, a newspaper reporter, narrates that years ago he covered the story of murderer Ezra Cobb. He explains that Ezra’s father died when he was ten years old, at which point Ezra and his mother, Amanda “Ma” Cobb, were forced to run the family’s farm. Fifteen years later, Ezra’s mother had a stroke, after which he moved her downstairs and sealed off the upper level of the house. Ezra slept outside his mother’s room every night, constantly waited on her, and slowly grew psychotic. Inside the Cobb home, Ma speaks to Ezra from her deathbed, instructing him to call Maureen Selby when she dies. Worried that women will try to come after Ezra for his money in her absence, Ma insists he can trust Maureen because she is fat. She then warns him against sex because it leads to sexually transmitted diseases. Clutching her bible, Ma declares that someday God will rid the earth of unholy women. Hoping to keep her alive, Ezra shoves pea soup into Ma’s mouth but blood spurts from her nose and she dies. Ezra’s neighbors, Harlan and Jenny Kootz, join him at his mother’s funeral and offer their condolences, but Ezra argues that she is only sleeping. After a year has passed, Simms comments that Ezra still did not accept the death of his mother and awaited her return. Though he kept busy working as a handyman for neighbors, Ezra’s incessant grief eventually drove him insane. Lying in his kitchen, Ezra speaks aloud to his dead mother and hears her response. Ma chastises him for leaving her and suggests he bring her home. At night, Ezra goes to the cemetery and exhumes her ... +


Tom Simms, a newspaper reporter, narrates that years ago he covered the story of murderer Ezra Cobb. He explains that Ezra’s father died when he was ten years old, at which point Ezra and his mother, Amanda “Ma” Cobb, were forced to run the family’s farm. Fifteen years later, Ezra’s mother had a stroke, after which he moved her downstairs and sealed off the upper level of the house. Ezra slept outside his mother’s room every night, constantly waited on her, and slowly grew psychotic. Inside the Cobb home, Ma speaks to Ezra from her deathbed, instructing him to call Maureen Selby when she dies. Worried that women will try to come after Ezra for his money in her absence, Ma insists he can trust Maureen because she is fat. She then warns him against sex because it leads to sexually transmitted diseases. Clutching her bible, Ma declares that someday God will rid the earth of unholy women. Hoping to keep her alive, Ezra shoves pea soup into Ma’s mouth but blood spurts from her nose and she dies. Ezra’s neighbors, Harlan and Jenny Kootz, join him at his mother’s funeral and offer their condolences, but Ezra argues that she is only sleeping. After a year has passed, Simms comments that Ezra still did not accept the death of his mother and awaited her return. Though he kept busy working as a handyman for neighbors, Ezra’s incessant grief eventually drove him insane. Lying in his kitchen, Ezra speaks aloud to his dead mother and hears her response. Ma chastises him for leaving her and suggests he bring her home. At night, Ezra goes to the cemetery and exhumes her body. As he drives away with his mother’s decayed corpse in the passenger seat, the sheriff pulls him over and reprimands him for speeding, failing to notice the dead body. Returning home, Ezra deposits his mother’s remains on the bed, placing her rotted head on the pillow. Simms explains that Ezra tried to mend the flesh of his mother’s corpse with fish skin and other substances, but later realized human skin would work best. One night, Ezra joins the Kootz family for dinner. When he finds out Ezra does not understand the word ‘obituary,’ Harlan explains that recent deaths are regularly announced in the newspaper. After reading the obituaries, Ezra finds out about a recently deceased woman and robs her grave, later using skin from the fresh corpse to cover his mother’s face. Ezra presents the woman’s skull to his mother, announcing that she has a visitor. Simms comments that Ezra made many more trips to the cemetery to steal parts of bodies for his mother. One day, Harlan suggests to Ezra that he find a wife for companionship. Ezra argues that he doesn’t trust women, but remembers his mother’s recommendation that he call Maureen Selby. Ezra later visits Maureen at her apartment. When she finds out that Ezra talks to his mother, Maureen becomes excited because she, too, speaks to her dead husband, Herbert. Maureen suggests they conduct a séance to communicate with their dead loved ones the following Thursday. At home, Ezra sits by his mother’s bed and tells her he likes Maureen and her fat body but wonders if she is sane. On Thursday, Ezra joins Maureen for the séance and watches as she talks to her dead husband. Maureen takes on a low tone of voice, speaking as if Herbert has inhabited her body, and instructs Ezra to make love to her. She leads him to the bedroom, but Ezra sees his mother as he kisses Maureen. He remembers his mother’s warnings about sexually transmitted diseases just as Maureen finds a gun hidden in his pants. Ezra retrieves the gun, shoots, and kills Maureen. Simms claims that after the murder, Ezra began seeking the company of women. At Goldie’s tavern, he meets an attractive bartender named Mary Ransom. Though Ezra doesn’t want to drink alcohol, Mary informs him there is a minimum and brings him a whiskey sour. Hours later, Mary helps Ezra, now drunk, out of the bar. He begs for a goodnight kiss and she obliges him. Sometime later, Ezra slashes Mary’s tires outside the bar and waits for her to leave. Unable to drive away, Mary gets out of the car and runs into Ezra who offers to help. Though she asks him to drive her to the gas station, Ezra takes Mary to his home, where he tells her he will retrieve spare tires for her car. Waiting for Ezra outside the house, Mary becomes impatient and heads inside. There, she sees the squalid conditions in which Ezra lives and happens upon a room filled with rotting corpses, one of which is Ezra, dressed in a wig, his face covered in rotting skin. As he approaches, Mary fights him off and runs back to the car, but he catches up to her and attacks. Later, Ezra knocks on the door of a closet in which Mary is trapped. He tells her everybody believes she will make a good wife. Ezra unties her ankles and helps her up, promising not to hurt her. He then deposits her at a dinner table alongside corpses propped up in chairs. In an attempt to entertain Mary, Ezra uses a leg bone to beat a drum covered in human skin. Mary tells Ezra she cannot eat with her hands tied to the chair. Ezra approaches and fondles her body. When he finally unties her, she hits him over the head with a glass bottle. Attempting to escape, Mary throws corpses at him, but Ezra beats her to death with the leg bone. After news of the bartender’s death spreads, Ezra tells Harlan that Mary is at his house, along with his mother and Miss Jones, another dead woman. Harlan tells Ezra to stop his crazy talk. Ezra sees Harlan’s son Brad with his girlfriend, Sally, and he ogles the young woman. Sometime later, Harlan and Ezra visit the hardware store where Sally works. After checking out, Harlan invites Ezra to join him and Brad on a hunting excursion, but Ezra declines. When Harlan and Brad are gone, Ezra picks up a gun from the store and shoots Sally. She later wakes up in the back of his truck as he drives home. Sally jumps out of the truck and runs into the snowy woods. Ezra follows on foot, shooting at her. Sally runs towards Harlan’s car and calls out to Brad for help; however, he cannot hear her. She runs over a trap set by Harlan and Brad that clamps onto her foot. Sally screams in pain, alerting Ezra to her whereabouts. Though she hides in a bush, Ezra locates and shoots her. That day, Harlan and Brad talk to the Sheriff as he investigates Sally’s disappearance. Convinced Ezra is responsible, Brad encourages the men to go to Ezra’s house. Meanwhile, Ezra cuts into Sally’s naked, dead body, hung upside down from the ceiling of his barn. Harlan, Brad, and the Sheriff arrive and see Sally’s body through an open doorway. They find Ezra covered in blood inside his kitchen. According to Simms, days later, Kootz led a group of people who set fire to the Cobb farm. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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