Last night I watch the masterful biopic, Hitchcock, about the Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock and absolutely loved it. The movie takes place during the filming of Psycho. What I learned was that Psycho was loosely based upon the crimes of Ed Gein, a serial killer, body snatcher and possible necrophilliac from Plainfield, Wisconsin. This left me wondering about who this Ed Gein was and were there any movie based specifically about him and not just inspired by his crime. A quick Google search and I foung the movie, Deranged from 1974.
Deranged starts with a warning that everything in the film is based on real events and that the names have been changed to protect the innocent…. blah, blah,blah! Telling the story of a man that was raised by an overbearing religious fanatic mother that taught him that all women, aside from herself, were diseased whores out to corrupt him. Not allowed to socialize with others outside of school, Ed was bound to come out twisted. Ed, obsessed with his mother, devoted himself to her caretaking. When she suffered a stroke, he became even more so. Upon her death he boarded up the rooms that she used and left himself a small area in the house for his own use.
In the movie, Ed soon finds himself missing his mother terribly, and convinced himself that she was actually sleeping and not dead. His mother’s voice calls to him telling him to retrieve her and bring her back to their home. Exhuming the body, Ed does just that. Mother, having been buried for the better part of a year was not in prime shape, so Ed decides to make repairs to his mother. Using bits of fish skin and the like he fixes her up as best he can. Eventually, he studies taxidermy to improve his skills. Not content with animals, Ed exhumes bodies from the grave yard, taking parts of or whole bodies from fresh graves. Ed’s a ghoul.
Soon Ed ups the ante when he becomes smitten with a local bar owner and kidnaps her. Hoping she’ll be his wife, he introduces her to his mother and dinner guests: posed bodis of the peopl he stole from the graveyard. Playing along, she convinced him to release her bound hand, and attempts to escape… Sorry! Ed ain’t letting you go. Instead of a wedding, she’s dead now.
Ed keeps up his shit with no one suspecting him at all, until a girl keeping shop dissapears with signs of foul play. The last person in the shop was Ed and the local Sherriff goes off to Ed’s farm house to talk to him. That’s where they find the body of the girl and evidence of all of Ed’s grisly crimes. The movie then ends with a write up of Ed being found insane…
Okay, this is not a great movie, but I did find it interesting as I knew little of Ed Gein. There have been a lot of movies about Ed and based on him. Not many of the biopics are very good, but this is one of the first. Should you watch it? If your interested in the crimes of Ed, then yes. If not, then don’t bother.
1973’s British production, The Legend of Hell House is a stylish, early 1970s horror movie that kind of surprised me. You see, I usually find 60’s and 70’s British horror to be boring… and mostly crap. With the exception of some (but not all) Hammer films. Well I am glad to say The Legend of Hell House is an exception to this.
The story is basically this: A millionaire, Mr. Deutsch hires a group of “specialists” to investigate a purported Haunted house, The Belasco House, in an effort to either prove or disprove life after death. The Belasco house had been the home of Emeric Belasco, a rumoured, evil giant of a man who reportedly held massive orgies in the home. Later, after the death of Belasco, people who entered the house either died or suffered insanity.
In the 1950s, a group that entered and tried to get to the bottom of the hauntings ended in tragedy. The only survivor, a 15 year old physical medium named Ben Fisher survived. Now, in 1974, Ben (played by Roddy McDowell), along with physicist Dr. Lionel Barrett (Clive Revill), his wife, Ann Barrett (Gayle Hunnicutt) and spiritual medium Florence Tanner (Pamela Franklin) make up the new team that was hired to investigate.
The fist night together in Belasco House, the group partakes in a séance (or sitting). During this sitting, Florence claims to be channel a spirit, and in a weird, manly voice warns and threatens the group, while physical objects around the room are shaken and moved without anyone touching them. While the group is shaken up, Dr. Barrett believes that there must be a scientific reason for the events.
As the days go by, Florence is visited by what appears to be several spirits, but most notably, one claiming to be Belasco’s son, asking to be released. These visits seem to end with Florence being physically attacked – even by an evil, determined black cat.
Florence isn’t the only one being targeted – they all are. Ann Barrett, becomes temporarily possessed while sleep walking and tries to engage Ben in sex. Ben, realizing it is the spirit talking and not really Ann, slaps her awake – she comes to and runs away. – A note: Ann is pretty hot – Ben must have used some serious will power here-. Also, during another sitting, Dr. Barrett is targeted by flying objects that are hurled in his direction seemingly by invisible hands. Dr. Barrett, though, is still convinced that this can be explained scientifically.
Barrett has a large piece of equipment delivered to the house that I think drains the ethereal energy of the house – Florence attempts to destroy the machine but fails. Barrett starts up his machine and gets to work. While they are doing so, Florence gets up and enters the chapel of the house… where tragedy befalls her. While this is happening, in the room with the machine, Dr. Barrett believes that the machine has done it’s job, and even Ben agrees, declaring the home “clear.” Well, almost immediately a bunch of crap happens and Dr. Barrett is killed. Ann and Ben enter the chapel, and find Florence dead. Ben, coming to a realization, hurls accusations at the spirit, belittling it, and soon they discover a hidden chamber… and the truth of the evil Emeric Belasco…
Well, as I stated at the beginning of this post, I generally find British horror from this time boring , but I enjoyed this quite a bit. It was an interesting story and the acting was good. Not a lot of gore, but that’s okay. Should you watch it? That’s completely up to you.
Check out the trailer below: