In 1968, George Romero proved that low budget can be scary as hell with his zombie classic Night of the Living Dead. Modern films would follow in his footsteps such as the Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity. However, in 1974, another low budget film escaped most people's notice but deserves many accolades. Deranged, which was directed by Jeff Gillen [Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things. He also played Santa in A Christmas Story] and Alan Ormsby [who also wrote the script], is one creepy film. It's loosely based on the story of Ed Gein who not only killed several woman but also dug up a number of corpses and fashioned trophies and keepsakes from their bones and skin. This is the guy who inspired Norma Bates from Psycho, Leatherface from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Buffalo Bill from The Silence of Lambs.
Ed Gein's story is disturbing and bewildering and Deranged captures it perfectly. With a minimum of gore, Deranged manages to convey a sense of dread and terror that films with larger budgets seldom do. A large part of this film's success is due to Roberts Blossom [Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Home Alone] who plays Ezra Cobb, i.e. Ed Gein. He is perfect for the part and manages to subtly fill the character with a combination of quiet insanity, bursts of rage, and a creative violent streak. This film is not for everyone but it is compelling nonetheless. I couldn't take my eyes off of it even though I wanted to look away a time for two.
Most modern psycho killer movies rely on excessive gore to shock their audience. The subject matter in Deranged is shocking enough that we don't really need much else to make us squirm in our seats. Our minds fill in all the gory details in a way that special effects cannot. Job well done. As a side note veteran special effects man Tom Savini did some of the makeup for Deranged. It is one of his earliest films.
Don't miss this one. Be prepared to be terrorized as Deranged gives us a front row seat to examine the mind and motivations of a truly psychopathic individual.
For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.