Deranged (UK - BD RB)
Our Marcus watches another deranged Ed Gein inspired horror on Blu-ray disc
In this 1974 horror tale inspired by the real life events of Ed Gein, Ezra Cobb (Roberts Blossom) loses his elderly mother but when unable to get over the grief of her death makes the decision to dig her up and keep her preserved in their family home.
With Cobb's state of mind becoming increasingly more wild he makes the decision to get his mother some 'friends' from the graveyard to to keep her company but when those around him aren't picking up on his dark deeds Cobb moves his focus to obtaining some live friends to join the family.
Told via regular updates from newspaper columnist Tom Sims (Leslie Carlson), the story of Ezra Cobb is delivered with a sense of knowing all the way through. We're aware that people are going to die and how Ezra is feeling about his situation and it makes for a semi biopic feel to events.
Roberts Blossom's central performance as the shy retiring deranged lead gives this spin on the Ed Gein story a much realer feel than other film's inspired by the same real life events, such as Texas Chainsaw Massacre or Psycho. Horrible, crazy things happen here but somehow this simple central depiction of a man driven to dark deeds through grief play a little more genuine here despite the unavoidable dark comedy things like a table surrounded by well presented dead bodies tend to conjure up.
Deranged proves to hold up nearly forty years after its original 1974 release. Sure the style of the film and the general look is very much a seventies production but this one plays with an ageless quality to it and it's straight forward approach and genuine feeling mood is often missed in many modern horrors and other Gein-like tales.
The immediately natural looking image has a thin layer of grain but nothing to take away from the relatively well cleaned up presentation. Detail and colours are great and anything under natural light looks boosted in all the good ways within it's new HD setting. Dimmer scenes can lose a bit of clarity but that's really only in the wider shots.
Faces are full of wrinkles and textures, make up holds up well and costumes look particularly good with the boosted 1080p power behind the presentation. The film is mostly beige and dreary in the old house setting but when colour hits the screen it's strong and striking. Deep blood reds or even the green of the pea soup early in the film looks the colour they were intended without the HD upgrade messing with anything. The scenes with pure black backgrounds in certain scenes are always solid black and this in turn boosts the reds and yellows around them even more so.
This is a Blu-ray release of a cult favourite that gets almost everything right and while the age of the film is always felt, it's celebrated in the best of ways rather than looking tampered with like many a catalogue title suffers from.
The creaky eerie organ based score creates a creepy mood but the audio here is pretty much played straight. Dialogue is clear and central as you'd expect and comes with a slight natural echo to sell the space in some of the rooms. The on screen narration by Tom Sims feels like a genuine news report with a crisper feel to it and the odd bit of ambience adds a little bit of depth to the track even if it's only subtle. Higher pitches like screams can sound a little hollow but really it fits with the style of the film and doesn't sound outside of what's expected.
The introduction by Tom Savini (00:12 HD) has the special effects artist and actor warning us that Deranged is "pretty out there".
Savini's commentary is light and fun and of course very special effects focused. He talks about research into the appearance of dead bodies, his experiences in Vietnam and how that is the benchmark he tries to reach in regards to the disturbing images he creates and of course there's more specifics on what was produced for Deranged.
'A Blossoming Brilliance' (10:22 HD) is an interview with Scott Spiegel and he talks about working with Roberts Blossom on the The Quick and the Dead and actually lending the star the film for a rewatch only to discover Blossom didn't like it. He also goes into detail about this style of horror in US films and shows his love of the horror genre and the film's within it.
Ed Gein: From Murderer to Movies (14:52 HD) has Laurence R. Harvey (the star of The Human Centipede II).
The Wages of Sin (12:00 HD) shows a lot of original onset footage, film clips and inter-cut with archival interview footage with director Jeff Gillen.
The 'Trailer Commentary' with Adam Rifkin is full of facts and admiration (including a mention that a young Harvey Keitel actually went for the lead role) and wrapping up events is the trailer uncommentaried and a Stills Gallery.
Deranged feels more akin to what I'd imagine the real Ed Gein situation was like as opposed to some of the other more intense horror classics that real world events spawned. It's sort of cute in its small scale but still offers a disturbing glance into the home of a very 'deranged' man.
The Blu-ray release looks great, comes with a solid audio track and as is usually the case with these Arrow titles has a great selection of extra features that celebrate the film and even branch out beyond just that. Deranged fans should be very pleased with this one.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 18 years and over
Release Date: 19th August 2013
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: LPCM 2.0 English
Subtitles: English SDH
Extras: Introduction, Commentary, Featurettes, Trailer Commentary, Trailer, Stills Gallery
Easter Egg: No
Director: Jeff Gillen, Alan Ormsby
Cast: Roberts Blossom, Cosette Lee, Leslie Carlson
Genre: Drama and Horror
Length: 83 minutes
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