What’s It About: The wages of sin is gonorrhea syphilis and death! Good advice. It’s given by Ezra Cobb’s mama, a crusty old b who dies at the beginning of this big budget blockbuster. And with her dying breaths, she warns Ez against the evils of women, who will bang Ez for his money, even though he lives in squalor and doesn’t seem to have any valuable possessions whatsoever.
Ez simply refuses to accept his mother’s death, and just kind of acts like she’s away. Since he doesn’t exactly have broads climbing all over him, he gets a little lonely.
One night, one month after her death, Ez talks to himself in his mama’s voice that he’s left her all alone and needs to bring her home. He goes to dig her up and takes her home. But on the way back, with mama riding shotgun, Ez is pulled over by the fuzz who smells Ez for booze and picks up his rotting Mama’s scent but doesn’t see her because Ez pushed her down to the floorboards like they’re sneaking into a drive-in.
Oh, by the way, the movie is narrated by some creep who claims to be a reporter, and in a couple of scenes in the beginning he just pops up in scenes to narrate, like he’s been hanging in Ez’s house. It’s pretty disjointed and basically stops in the second half. I guess it tries to add realism to the movie but it does the opposite.
Anyway, Ez is happy to have mama home, but she’s not looking too hot, so Ez wants to patch her up but doesn’t have the proper materials. Have you considered flesh? Always works for me.
Ez has to have his neighbor tell him what an obituary is. Ez gets the bright idea to start taking parts from fresh corpses, which he explains in detail to the neighbor family, but they just laugh it off. Oh you wacky guy with your insane corpse desecration jokes! But Ez was dead serious, so he starts robbing graves for body parts, skinning them to stitch to his mother to bring a little color back in her cheeks.
Ez’s neighbors are concerned about his loneliness, and suggest he try the dating scene. So he goes a-socializin’ with Maureen, a rotund missus. She looks pretty fleshy—good skinning stock, indeed. They seem to bond over how both of them crazy-talk to dead loved ones. Ez later tells his mamacorpse that he likes how fat Maureen is, but is afraid she might be nuts. OH THAT’S IRONIC, RIGHT GUYS??!! Guys? …
They have a seance where Maureen wears a blond wig and tries to talk to her dead husband while Ez wears a tux and is confused. She basically tells Ez that her dead husband wants to watch them bang. This seance goes on for a while and Maureen coming on to Ez is probably the scariest part of the film. Of course, during first base on the bed, Ez hears his mama in his head, so he shoots Maureen in the head. He should have at least gotten head first. Since he told his neighbors he was going to go out with her, it doesn’t make sense that nobody would put two and two together here.
So Ez pretty much gets away with that one scot-free. Soon Ez goes to a dive bar on another flesh hunt. He takes a shine to a skanky cocktail waitress named Mary, who one sleazy old bar patron describes: “I’ve seen tits from Portugal to Yokohama and those are tits with a capital T!” That old man rules. Her boobs aren’t really all that amazing. Nice, but nothing to write a sonnet about.
Ez really feels the need to kill this chick, so he slashes one of her tires and shows up as a Good Samaritan to give her a lift. He takes her back to his place under the pretense of getting some spare tires. She gets impatient in the car so she goes in the house to find him. And find him she does, wearing a scalped wig and some skin on his face and sitting next to his corpse friends. Just how my Uncle Bob used to throw his surprise birthday parties.
This whole part is very Texas Chainsaw Massacrey. Mary sits at the dinner table to meet Ez’s dead family and friends. See he’s pretty smitten with Mary and would like to marry Mary. To prove he has worth and talents, he shows her a violin made out of guts I think and a drum made out of belly skin and played with a femur. Hey, I mean, you could do worse, Mary.
Using the seductive power of her nipples, Mary convinces Ez to untie her then she bashes him over the head with a wine bottle and throws some corpses at him to distract him, including his mama. So he bashes her head in with the femur. Femur? It killed her!
Next scene, Ez is at his neighbor’s house and essentially tells them that he has Mary and all these other corpses at his house but the guy is as dense as a mine shaft filled with shit and just tells Ez to stop talking crazy. The dope’s daughter, Sally, comes in and Ez licks his lips over her pretty skin. The next day at the hardware/gun/everything store where the girl works, Ez goes to stalk her and the dumbf*ck neighbor shows him a nice gun. After he leaves, Ez takes a rifle and shoots the girl in the head in broad daylight in the store while she smiles at him pointing a gun at her. He loads her up in the back of his truck to take her home, but I guess he just grazed her head? So she runs off, with Ez after her. There’s a long scene of her dad setting up a bear trap, so obviously Ez or the girl is going to step in it in a minute. Annnnnd… it’s the girl! Ez is still hunting her so she hides in the bushes. But he sees the bear trap chain and can’t believe his luck! So he shoots her with her dad and brother like 50 feet away. Uhh, you probably could have screamed a little louder, dumdum.
The dad and brother go back to the store and find her bloody glasses, so they go with the sheriff to ask Ez a few questions. You shouldn’t bother a man when he’s stringing up a dead girl to cut skin off of her. But he hears his mama again and appears to be having a bit of regret. They arrive to find Ez in the kitchen, covered in blood and laughing his head off. All in good fun.
Is It Actually Scary: Deranged definitely comes down firmly in the creepy/unsettling side of things rather than outright scary. There’s no shower scene like in Psycho or no head-bashing-dragging-off scene like in Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but it does its own creepy thing and that’s ok.
Scariest Moment: Probably when Mary finds Ez sitting among the corpses with his Sunday Best on, which is someone else’s face skin and scalped hair.
How Much Gore: One word: Tom Savini! So of course there’s good gore. I think he had about 97 cents to work with, but he does a pretty effective job with all the corpses and skin. Except that the blood dripping down the final victim is thicker than Greek yogurt.
Dumbest Moment: Definitely the seance scene. It seems like it was trying to add some weird comedic element to the movie that it most definitely didn’t need, and just goes on too long. They could have just had Maureen come on to Ez and that’s that.
Any Nudity: Just one scene at the end where the final victim, Sally, is hanging upside down by her ankles and her body is fully nude. And for a corpse, she has a spectacular rack.
Overall: The movie is definitely buoyed by the performance of Roberts Blossom as Ezra. He’s not the greatest actor in the universe, but his look and mannerisms and delivery are just creepy and very effective, especially for something like this. While the movie does give you the willies in spots, it seems like they could have done so much more with the dread and gore (although there is a deleted scene of Ez scooping a corpse’s brains out with a spoon that’s really gruesome, and it’s easy to understand why they cut it out).
Texas Chainsaw Massacre was so effective because of its feel and how it makes you feel uneasy the entire time. Deranged does that in spots, but just doesn’t quite get into that gear all the way. Still, if you’re in the mood for creepiness, go ahead and and put on your finest skin mask and check it out, just don’t expect some amazing forgotten grindhouse gem.
Score: 5.5 skin masks (out of 10)