Deranged (Blu-ray) (Arrow Video)

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Deranged: The Confessions of a Necrophile 

(Special Edition DVD and Blu-ray Dual Format Edition)

Arrow Video /  Alan Ormsby and Jeff Gillen / 1974 / United States – Canada

Running Time: 84 minutes (approx.)

Region Code: Region 2 / B

Certificate: 18

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Codec: AVC

Image: Colour

Video: 1080p High Definition (Blu-ray)

Audio: English Linear PCM Audio 2.0 (Blu-ray)

——- English Linear PCM 2.0 (Commentary Track)

Language: English

Subtitles: Optional English SDH

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The case of the notorious American serial killer and body-snatcher Ed Gein has been the inspiration and influence behind the creation of some of the cinema’s most famous fictional killers, most notably: Norman Bates in Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Psycho’ (1960) (adapted from Robert Bloch’s 1959 suspense novel), Leatherface in Tobe Hooper’s landmark 1974 slasher ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ and Jame ‘Buffalo Bill’ Gumb in Jonathan Demme’s Academy Award-winning 1991 thriller ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ (adapted from Thomas Harris’s 1988 novel of the same name).

However, as vivid and notorious as these aforementioned fictional characters have become, perhaps none are as overly disturbing or unhinged as the central figure in Alan Ormsby and Jeff Gillen’s 1974 cult-horror classic, ‘Deranged’, which now arrives restored and fully uncut for the first ever time (including the decapitation and brain-scooping scene), in its world Blu-ray premiere, from Arrow Video.

After the death of his oppressive, fanatically religious mother, eccentric, middle-aged, rural farm owner, Ezra ‘Ez’ Cobb, finds himself increasingly unhinged by his traumatic loss. Believing her to still be alive (though almost a year has passed since her death) Ezra eventually unearths her body from the grave and lovingly preserves her corpse in the living room. Though ultimately more concerned about what his mother would have to say about his perverse activity (than the prospect of being caught), he proceeds to dig up more bodies from their graves, patching up his mother’s decayed corpse with ‘borrowed’ hair and skin, and using them as both decoration around the house and ‘friends’ to keep his mother company. However, lured by the prospect of living victims, it isn’t long before his sinister obsessions begin to grow more deadly.

Though remaining on the whole more faithful to the horrific truths behind Gein’s alarming crimes, Ormsby and Gillen’s low-budget film takes a much more darkly comic look at the events that unfolded, introducing a variety of eccentric characters from around the local, unidentified rural Midwest town and presenting an array of situations which grow increasingly surreal and sinister.

What does stand out in particular is the way that Ezra remains willingly open about his psychotic exercises throughout the film, honestly confessing to knowing the whereabouts of the bodies of missing women in open conversations with his unbelieving friends who just laugh off and deride Ezra’s assumed ‘jokes’.

Roberts Blossom delivers an incredibly effective performance in the central role of Ezra, and there are strong supporting performances from Robert Warner as Harlon Kootz, Micki Moore as Mary Ransum, Marian Waldman as Maureen Selby, Leslie Carlson as the film’s onscreen narrator Tom Simms, and a brief, yet significant performance from Cosette Lee as Ezra’s mother, Amanda Cobb.

Though made on a very low-budget, the film proves visually and artistically very impressive, enhanced by the authentic art direction and eerie locations, Ormsby and Gillen’s fast-paced direction, Tom Savini’s gruesome special effects and Jack McGowan’s intense, often close cinematography which adds to the consuming, claustrophobic tone of the piece.

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Arrow Video’s AVC encoded 1080p High Definition transfer, presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, proves very impressive indeed, delivering significant upgrades from the old standard DVD release of the film.

Colours are generally rich and nicely saturated, contrast is often very impressive, and there is good deal of fine detail, facial detail and depth present in the image.

Aside from some minor instances of white speckling and light debris, the image proves remarkably clean, feeling very authentic and retaining a nice layer of consistent, natural film grain.

The English Linear PCM 2.0 Audio mix quite accurately reflects the budget limitations of the film, however, though the audio presentation proves fairly minimalistic, the dialogue and effects are clean and clear, and Carl Zittrer’s menacing, organ-heavy score remains effectively eerie.

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Special Features:

High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation of the unrated version, featuring the infamous brain-scooping scene , available uncut in the UK for the first time.

Audio commentary with special effects artist Tom Savini.

Introduction to the film by Savini.

‘A Blossoming Brilliance’ – Scott Spiegel (Intruder, Evil Dead II) speaks about Deranged star Roberts Blossom and the lasting legacy of this gore-soaked gem.

‘Ed Gein: From Murder to Movies’ – Laurence R. Harvey (The Human Centipide II) discusses the lurid legacy of the Wisconsin serial killer and the secrets of portraying a cinematic psychopath.

‘The Wages of Sin’ – Making of featurette comprising newly transferred 16mm production footage and an archive interview with director Jeff Gillen.

Original Trailer

Trailer Commentary

Stills Gallery

Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Nathanael Marsh

Collector s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Stephen Thrower, author of Nightmare USA, and an archive interview with producer Bob Clark by Calum Waddell, illustrated with original archive stills and posters

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Overall:

Though ‘Deranged’ may not be as strong as some of the more famous or more acclaimed works that have been influenced by Gein’s crimes, this disturbing film delivers 84 minutes of tense, striking and effectively achieved drama, and though undoubtedly not for everyone, the film proves a must-see for anyone with a passing interest in cult-horror. Recommended!

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Release Date: 19 August, 2013

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