Dec 11, 2014
Fuck bedroom blitzkrieging bogeymen, brain-gorging zombies, entrancing vampires with mad glamouring skills, sinisterly sensual succubae, gender-challenged psychotic retards sporting hand-sewn sporting skinmasks and wielding chainsaws, badly burned pedophiles with killer clawed gloves, heinously bitchy grotesque witches with deadly spells, and pernicious shadow-lurking phantasms, hysterical women are infinitely more horrifying and dreadful to me, both in real-life and the cinematic realm. Indeed, while the deadly torment of a masked retard and stumbling flesheater is relatively quick and painless, the hysterical woman and her pernicious psychodramatic games can haunt you forever if you’re unlucky enough to survive her wrath. One of the scariest things about the hysterical woman is that she is no more in control of her actions than you are and cannot be completely culpable for her actions, thus making her actions all the more tragic, hence why Lorena Bobbitt was found not guilty due to insanity for cutting her husband's cock off and filicidal fiend Andrea Yates was found not guilty by reason of insanity during a retrial for drowning her five young children, including an infant, in a bathtub in the bloodthirsty state of Texas where one murder is enough to convince the state to execute you (after all, what other state would execute a nice Jewish boy like Douglas Feldman?!). In the uniquely unhinged and underrated 1987 psycho-horror flick Deranged (not to be confused with the 1974 Ed Gein inspired flick of the same name co-directed by Jeff Gillen and Alan Ormsby), the viewer is forced to endure the static and claustrophobic schizophrenic hell of a hysterical heiress who completely loses what little was left of her mind after she murders a masked robber who also causes her to suffer a miscarriage after committing forced blunt trauma to her pregnant stomach. Directed by gay pornographic auteur Chuck Vincent (Jack n’ Jill, Roommates), who is best known for his hardcore heterosexual carnal comedies but who made his feature debut with the artsy psychedelic Gothic horror exploitation piece Voices of Desire (1972), the film is more or less an all the more morbid yet sometimes strangely mirthful reworking of Roman Polanski’s classic British psychological horror flick Repulsion (1965) starring French blonde diva Catherine Deneuve about a pathologically misandric young debutante who begins murdering men after falling into schizophrenia and reliving various childhood traumas. While Vincent managed to do the seemingly impossible by garnering mainstream respect for high-class X-rated fuck flicks like Jack n’ Jill (1979), Roommates (1981) and In Love (1983), the critics were less sympathetic towards Deranged, with The New York Times reviewer Caryn James spitefully writing in her 1987 review of the film that it, “is not pornography, of high or low quality; it is just a sleazy, muddled movie that should have been kept in the can.” One can only assume that since Vincent’s film depicts womanhood as such a fragile and precarious thing, not to mention the fact that it portrays NYC natives as soulless psychopaths who worship money and religiously engage in extramarital excursions, the film hit a nerve with a native feminist New Yorker like Ms. James, who probably felt less than empowered by the whole cruel, dark, unsettling, and decidedly dejecting cinematic experience. Starring top pornographic thespians in the lead roles, including Vincent’s favorite leading lady Veronica Hart (who later had small roles in Paul Thomas Anderson flicks like Boogie Nights (1997) and Magnolia (1999)) as the schizophrenic murderess, macho man and self-proclaimed sex addict Jerry Butler (who, despite his rampant masculinity and goombah-like good looks, is a half-Hebrew whose paternal grandfather was the half-brother of kosher commie mass murderer ‘Leon Trotsky’ aka Lev Davidovich Bronshtein) as said murderess' social-climbing philanderer hubby, and crazed yet charismatic kosher leading man Jamie Gillis as the decidedly dead daddy of the murderess, Vincent’s film is not merely a desperate attempt at a mainstream crossover work, but a paradoxically distastefully tasteful tribute to the true acting integrity of its pornographic performers. Indeed, compared to most 1980s horror films, Deranged features acting performances of a Bergman-esque caliber in terms of its uncompromisingly deathly dark and fiercely foreboding melodrama.
Even though she is a rich housewife who inherited millions of dollars when her father slit his own throat with a straight razor, Joyce Peters (Veronica Hart of Cecil Howard’s Neon Nights (1981) and Shaun Costello’s Pandora’s Mirror (1981)) has a lot of major and seemingly irrevocable problems, namely that she is a highly hysterical woman in a dubious marriage with a boorish bohunk tennis player named Frank (Jerry Butler of Frank Henenlotter’s Basketcase (1982) and Cecil Howard’s Snake Eyes (1985)) who superficially resembles John Wayne Bobbitt in both appearance and character, not to mention the fact that she suffers from nightmarish hallucinations during the most random of moments, even while in the company of other people. Maybe it is because she is pregnant and expecting a baby boy soon or just because she is an introverted weirdo, but Joyce decides to stay behind in NYC when her husband travels to London for a month-long business trip, thus leaving her more susceptible to falling prey to the internal purgatory of her own messed up mind. The voices in her head rightly tell Joyce that her husband Frank is carrying on a lurid love affair with her exceedingly extroverted bitch half-sister Mary Ann (Jennifer Delora of Vincent’s Bedroom Eyes II (1989) and Henenlotter’s Frankenhooker (1990)). If Mary Ann is a prissy princess, Joyce’s mother Sheila (small-time porn star Jill Cumer of Henri Pachard’s Jailhouse Girls (1984) and Vincent’s R-rated sex comedy Sex Appeal (1986)) is a royally wretched queen bitch who resents her daughter for marrying a low-class “gigolo bum.” Upon visiting her mother’s lavish apartment with her sister Mary Ann, Joyce is rudely surprised with a baby shower where she is bombarded by the rather revolting presence of her stereotypically nasally-sounding Jewish mother-in-law and various other nefariously narcissistic vulgarians who judge the quality of a party by how much money was senselessly wasted on it. When Joyce opens a present that contains a baby blue baby blanket, she fondly remembers a moment from her childhood when her father tenderly said to her, “Blue is the color of the sky and ocean…serenity. Pink isn’t for my Joycie…you’re special…Daddy’s delight.” After that, Joyce goes into a bathroom and hallucinates seeing a maniacal Minister (Daniel Chapman of Mississippi Burning (1988) and Philadelphia (1993)) smashing open the bathroom mirror, with an imaginary alternate dimension featuring a sardonic reenactment of her beloved father’s funeral taking place on the other side of the mirror. As the menacing Minister sarcastically states regarding Joyce’s father’s death, “Let’s thank all those who made this possible…Shelia and Darren, her secret lover, and then there’s everyone’s candy sweetie, Mary Ann, Darren and Sheila’s illegitimate bastard child. And damn, if I didn’t almost forget, there’s daddy’s favorite little delight, Joyce.” Indeed, Joyce’s father Eugene (Jamie Gillis of Jonas Middleton’s Through the Looking Glass (1976) and Shaun Costello’s Water Power (1977)) apparently slit his throat in the bathtub after catching his wife Sheila cheating on him with a dirtbag named Darren (John Brett), who would later become the anti-heroine’s slimy stepfather.
While Joyce suffers from nightmarish hallucinations at least a couple times a day, they completely pale in comparison to the unending series of quasi-Fellini-esque surrealist horror she will suffer after coming home to her apartment after a long hard day of dealing with repugnant family members and being attacked by a sadistic thug in a ski-mask. Indeed, when the assumed robber attacks Joyce and she pleads with him “please, don’t do it to my baby” while holding her bloated pregnant stomach, the scumbag proceeds to bludgeon her in the gut with the utmost brutality. While Joyce manages to kill the ski-masked thug with a pair of scissors before he can kill her, she subsequently suffers a miscarriage due to the brutal blows she took to her belly and wakes up the next day on her bed unclad sucking her thumb while in a fetal position like a newborn baby, as if to signify her rebirth as a completely helpless schizophrenic woman-child. Strangely, Joyce is in quite the peppy mood when she fully awakes and even tells her sister on the phone that she has never felt better in her life, as if she has already completely buried her traumatic experiences from the night before in the deep dark recesses of her mind. From there, Joyce’s life becomes comprised of endless back-to-black hallucinations-within-hallucinations and traumatic flashbacks-within-flashbacks involving dead loving yet incestuous fathers and disturbingly distorted recollections. While the corpse of the ski-masked robber is still on her living room floor, Joyce hallucinates a past therapy session from her dreaded college years with a certain Hebraic psychiatrist named Dr. Freemont (Harvey Siegel) where she reveals she began hallucinating after her father killed himself. It only becomes apparent to the viewer that Joyce is hallucinating when she walks a couple feet away from Dr. Freemont and picks up a baby. Indeed, in Joyce’s mind, she did not suffer a miscarriage but instead had the baby, who she named Frankie in tribute to her alpha-asshole husband. Still semi-sane every once in a while, Joyce sports a pillow under her stomach when people come by her apartment to keep up the appearance that she still is pregnant. During one of her flashbacks, Joyce re-experiences the moment she learned she was pregnant and how her pathologically pigheaded husband was so mad that it would destroy his professional tennis career that he calmly mentioned to his wife after berating her for getting knocked up, “it’s not too late to get an abortion.” Although her sister Mary Ann comes by at one point for a couple minutes just to bitch and complain about nothing important, Joyce really only interacts with one other person while hiding in her apartment and he is not exactly the best of company for an unhinged broad, as he is a greaseball horndog guido delivery boy named Nick (Gary Goldman, who appeared in Vincent’s lame sex comedy Young Nurses in Love (1989)), who uses every opportunity to try to get in her granny panties by using superlatively sleazy sexual innuendos. In terms of imagined meetings, Joyce is oftentimes visited by her father Eugene, who makes his first appearance naked and covered in blood in her bathtub, thus reflecting the nature of his grizzly suicide. Of course, Joyce is not exactly in the best of company for someone who has suffered a super bloody miscarriage during a late stage pregnancy.
Needless to say, as the days pass by and the ski-masked robber’s corpse begins to rot, Joyce gets complaints about her apartment smelling, so after imagining her husband Frank encouraging her to hide the body in a more covert and contained area, she puts the cadaver in her closet, but before long, the perturbed protagonist imagines the dead crook randomly popping out of the closet to attack and torment her. While at her apartment, Joyce also hallucinates the day when she first met her husband Frank at a country club and how her stepfather Darren warned her to stay away from such a “low class” fellow who was only interested in her money. Joyce also remembers the day when her mother told her regarding Frank, “you don’t want to marry him. Play with him, have a good time with him, but look for a real husband.” Indeed, Joyce’s mother Sheila is a shameless first-class whore who knows how to separate business and pleasure, as she strategically married the wealthy Eugene but carried on a lurid love affair with Darren and she wanted her daughter to create a similarly duplicitous existence for herself, but her pathetic progeny did not learn the lesson, hence her current precarious situation as the hopelessly cuckolded wife of a grade A asshole. Indeed, as it turns out, the dead fellow with the ski-mask is Frank and he planned to kill Joyce and their unborn baby so he could inherit her millions of dollars and get with his true love Mary Anna, who he has been carrying on an affair with all along. When Joyce mistakes delivery boy Nick for her husband Frank, she ends up having to kill him after he gets a little bit too sexually aggressive after she cock-blocks him upon realizing who he really is. Realizing that her half-sister was also in on the murder plot with her husband Frank, Joyce also violently murders Mary Ann. Naturally, Joyce also has mixed feeling on recollecting her incestuous relationship with her father, who strips his clothes off and joins her in bed in one rather demented scene. One night, Joyce suffers a nightmarish hallucination where all the corpses of her victimizers turned victims come alive and attempt to coerce her into committing suicide, with her undead husband pleading, “Joyce, you don’t want to live. Don’t you want to join us?,” in a rather darkly humorous scene. In fact, Joyce’s father demonstrates how easy suicide is by slitting his throat with a straight razor in the same fashion that he did when he originally committed suicide. When Joyce manages to temporarily get over her hallucinated demons when her apartment begins burning down, she talks to her mother on the phone and declares regarding her family and class background, “I don’t think I’m one of you” and “I just don’t fit in.” Barely managing to escape from her inflamed apartment, Joyce walks on the seedy streets of NYC while stumbling around in a conspicuously dazed and confused fashion just like the average bum in a strangely ‘hopeful’ and somewhat symbolic scene of the character finally managing to break free from her greedy evil little bourgeois family. Unfortunately, Joyce waited too long to get away from her kinfolk, as she may have otherwise preserved some of her sanity had she acted earlier. Strangely and somewhat irritatingly, the very final shot of Deranged is quite a perplexing one that puts into question everything that happened previously in the film.
Although it seems somewhat inexplicable since the protagonist goes completely insane in the end and kills the most important people in her life, there was apparently a sequel planned for Deranged but, for whatever reason, it failed to ever materialize. Notably, auteur Chuck Vincent would later direct the similarly underrated and genre-bending horror-thriller Bad Blood (1989) aka A Woman Obsessed starring porn veteran Georgina Spelvin (The Devil in Miss Jones, Babylon Pink) and child star turned exploitation diva Linda Blair (The Exorcist, Savage Streets) before he died of gay cancer two years later in 1991. In his talent for depicting murderously hysterical women in sometimes absurd and borderline campy fashions, Vincent is certainly a kindred spirit of cult auteur Curtis Harrington, whose work Games (1967) starring a very young James Caan as a man who plots to kill his opulent wife, as well as his later classic Grande Dame Guignol flicks, must have influenced the porn auteur. Additionally, Vincent’s rather clever and sometimes semi-cryptic implementation of class and social critiques in Deranged deserves comparisons with classic darkly humorous Paul Bartel satires like Eating Raoul (1982) and Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills (1989). Of course, Deranged is a much darker and more depraved work than anything Harrington or Bartel ever directed, be it horror or otherwise. Essentially an exceedingly claustrophobic chamber piece that is isolated to one set for about 90-95% of the time that mixes the Artaudian theatrics of Rainer Werner Fassbinder with the misanthropic melodramatics and malevolent murder scenarios of gay gutter auteur Andy Milligan, Vincent’s film is certainly 1980s psychological kitsch at its most cultivated. In a sense, it was most apt that the lead role of Deranged was played by a porn star because, aside from the fact that ‘adult performers’ tend to be ‘damaged goods’ in real-life, few ‘legit’ actresses would have the stamina, stoicism, and nasty knack for degradation that was needed to play a bat-shit crazy broad who covers an entire bathtub with blood after suffering a brutal miscarriage and has sex with her undead daddy as portrayed by an unclad hairy Jamie Gillis. Indeed, Veronica Hart may have taken countless cocks on screen, but she also proved she could outdo Catherine Deneuve in terms of abject celluloid besmirchment. Unquestionably, the greatest compliment I can pay Vincent’s film is that it is one of only a handful of cinematic works where I found myself empathizing with the sort of hyper hysterically and irrevocably wayward woman who I otherwise would say would be a great candidate for euthanasia or at least some sort of feminist commune run by savagely sadistic bull-dykes who know how to pound a terribly perturbed pussy into place. Since the miscarriage rate for women that know they are pregnant is around 15-20%, I would not recommend any young pregnant chick to watch Deranged. In fact, expectant fathers probably should not watch the film either, including those sickos that want their partner to lose the baby, as it might make them feel a smidgen of guilt.
Posted by Soiled Sinema at 8:27 PM
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