Mother and son issues provide horror films with a lot of over-the-top material, and Jeff Gillen and Alan Ormsby’s 1974 film Deranged is certainly one of the more gruesome. It’s about a man who cares for his elderly mother. After her death, he takes her corpse and keeps it in her old bedroom. This set-up owes more than a nod towards Alfred Hitchcok’s Psycho, and it makes some interesting attempts to examine issues surrounding parental control and the reversal of this during the demise of the maternal figure. To make matters even freakier, this movie is based on true events.
There will be those who find the subject matter distasteful, though, in all politeness, this isn’t a film for people who wish their horror pics to be confined by barriers of taste. There are some moments of really sickening, horrible gore to be had here – one of the highlights (depending on how you look at it) features our protagonist carving open his dead mother’s head and scooping out chunks of her brain. If this sounds like your idea of a good time, I’d recommend rushing to buy this new Blu-ray edition, as witnessing such a thing in HD is certainly an experience. Everyone else can stick to their Lark Rise to Candleford boxsets and pretend this kind of thing doesn’t exist.
As you’ve probably already guessed, this is not a movie to watch whilst munching a takeaway. As well as the corpse activity, we have some brutal murders of young women to contend with. It could be said that this film revels in misogyny and sleazy objectification (the close ups of blood dripping down women’s breasts don’t help matters). Others would argue it is a product of the time and, hey, what do you expect from a grimy exploitation flick from the 70s? I’ll let you make your own mind up about this.
As a package, Arrow have worked their magic once again. This is a truly wonderful treatment, and I do respect them for the amount of care and attention they give to their releases. The film has been remastered in high definition to a very high standard, the box looks terrific and extras excellently curated. The movie may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it can’t be said Arrow haven’t done it justice.
Film: ★★☆☆☆ Release: ★★★★★
Deranged (1974), directed by Jeff Gillen and Alan Ormsby, is released on Blu-ray in the UK by Arrow Films, Certificate 18. Find the Blu-ray artwork (with two different reversible covers) and trailer below.