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Deranged / Motel Hell (Midnite Movies Double Feature)
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Motel Hell: You really are what you eat with Farmer Vincent's smoked meat in this creepy horror yarn that "packs a punch and goes way beyond mere terror" (Box Office)! Vincent's popular products contain a special ingredient that the psychotic farmer and his sister would literally kill to keep secret in this darkly funny flick that "just might be your cup of meat" (L.A. Herald Examiner).
Motel Hell is slicker but less effective. Former Western star Rory Calhoun plays Farmer Vincent, a country hotel keeper (free samples of jerky at the front desk) whose line of smoked meats turns his customers into unwitting cannibals. The movie's got some genuinely creeped-out ideas (a backyard garden of victims, buried up to their necks?), but the execution is pedestrian and the humor pretty square. Onetime cultural icon Wolfman Jack has a few scenes as a TV preacher, for no apparent reason. --Robert Horton
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Deranged (1974) aka Deranged: Confessions of a Necrophile, was co-directed by actor Jeff Gillen (he played Santa Claus in the classic Christmas Story film released in 1983, "You'll shoot your eye out, kid.") and writer Alan Ormsby, who also wrote the film, along with other films like My Bodyguard (1980), Cat People (1982), and Porky's II: The Next Day (1983), is based on the ghastly true life events of reclusive Wisconsin farmer Ed Gein, convicted of necrophilia, cannibalism, and murder, inspiring films like Psycho (1960), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) and Silence of the Lambs (1991) and others. The film stars perennial old timing character actor Robert Blossoms as Ezra (Ez) Cobb, whom I best remember from the John Carpenter film Christine (1983), as George LeBay, the old timing man who sold the nerdish Arnie Cunningham the possessed car.
The film starts off with an on-screen narrator giving us some exposition about Ezra, who lives a quiet, solitary life caring for his deeply religious, domineering and bed ridden mother, who instills within Eddie the notion that women, in general, are evil and sex is sinful. After her death, Ezra is left alone, and becomes miserable. So much so he digs up his mother more than a year after her burial (yuck), and brings her home. He soon begins finding fresher corpses, by following the obituaries, for all kinds of uses (double yuck). Soon his compulsions move from dead corpses to living victims. His secluded house becomes a shrine to all things dead.Read more ›
There are several movies whose writers claim that the films were inspired by the notorious Wisconsin necrophiliac and purported cannibal Edward Gein--PSYCHO (1960), THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974), and THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (1991), to name a few--but only DERANGED comes close to reflecting Gein's grisly true-life activities. For those who don't already know, Ed Gein was a backwoodsy Wisconsin farmer who, during the 1950s, raided cemeteries and collected various body parts from the corpses. He is known to have made clothing and household items from the preserved skin and bones of his "trophies," and it was reported that he also ate some of the flesh (though this was never substantiated). Gein was caught and arrested in 1957 after actually killing the proprietor of a hardware store, then taking her body to his barn and preparing it in the manner of a hunter dressing a deer.
In DERANGED, the primary character is named Ezra Cobb, and though a lot of the real-life necrophilic and cannibalistic acts have been toned down for the script, Cobb is still a fairly accurate reflection of Edward Gein. To make these ghoulish themes a little more palatable, scriptwriter and co-director Alan Ormsby mixes in lots of gallows humor. In addition, the over-the-top performance of award-winning character actor Roberts Blossom, as Ezra Cobb, adds some jocularity to the film, but never goes so far as to diminish the overall horror.
Like Tobe Hooper's THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, which was released the same year, DERANGED opens with an attempt to convince the audience that what they will soon see is the gospel truth.Read more ›
I had high hopes for "Motel Hell", hoping to see Nancy Parsons (Beulah Balbricker from the "Porky's" movies) chew the scenery to bits. Unfortunately, the script doesn't give her much to do besides pig out on chicken drumsticks and try and drown Nina Axelrod in the big 'ol swimming hole. Parsons' best role is still as the deadly masseuse Zora on "Charlie's Angels" back in 1978.
Here she's sister to Rory Calhoun, and together they make the best smoked meat in the county. But what their customers don't know is that their special ingredient lay in the hidden "human garden" they're constantly cultivating by capturing innocent passersby on the highway.
While I'm sure this idea sounded much better on paper, the execution leaves a lot to be desired. It plays like a black comedy more than an actual slasher/horror film--but even then misses the mark. Notable only for an amusing turn by Elaine Joyce as half of a swinging couple, and an early non-speaking role for John Ratzenberger (Cliff from "Cheers"). Nothing else here to really recommend.
"Deranged" on the other hand, is much more interesting and well-made, yet downbeat and not an enjoyable film that would merit repeat viewings. Loosely based on Ed Gein, in this one a middle-aged Mama's boy goes off the deep end after the old lady dies. He digs up her corpse and eventually embarks on a killing spree to keep bringing companions home for mother. A delayed sexual awakening complicates things and has him kidnapping a cocktail waitress and the teenage hardware store clerk.Read more ›
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“It takes all kinds of critters to make Farmer Vincent’s fritters.” If that tagline makes you chuckle, you’ll probably enjoy this horror-comedy from... Read more
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