TED BUNDY. (2002) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

TED BUNDY. (2002) DIRECTED AND CO-WRITTEN BY MATTHEW BRIGHT.

STARRING MICHAEL REILLY BURKE, BOTI BLISS, TRACEY WALTER AND TOM SAVINI.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘Well, out here is the court of Ted! Here, what I say is law!’

I saw this film on video- yes, that’s right, video, lol!- back in 2002, and it scared the living daylights out of me. Since then, I’ve toughened up a lot and I’ve read a lot of the books about American serial killer Ted Bundy, so I’m well able for it nowadays. It’s still a very gruesome watch, mind you.

What I like about this version is that it doesn’t really glamorise Ted and his awful crimes. The more recent film, starring Zac Efron as the man himself, was a drastically sanitised re-telling of Ted’s story– EXTREMELY WICKED, SHOCKINGLY EVIL AND VILE (2019)– and portrayed the brutal woman-killer and rapist as a heart-throb beloved of women everywhere.

This film really shows the ugly side of Ted. Okay, sure, he’s good-looking and well-dressed, although I personally think those daft dicky-bows and checked jackets make him look a bit dorky. All he’s really got to commend him to women is a pretty enough face and the gift of the gab, and that’s all you need with some women.

But here, even in the opening scenes, set in the early 1970s, we see him as the kleptomaniac Peeping Tom and disgusting chronic masturbator that he really was, making those ugly weird gurning faces when he ejaculates or when he looks at himself in the mirror. Was he a narcissist as well? Probably!

His modus operandi is well known by now. We see him chatting up attractive young brunette women smoothly and slickly, often wearing a cast on a ‘busted’ arm so that women will help him to his car with his books or whatever else.

When they’re not looking, he hits them viciously over the head with a tire iron and shoves them in the car. Then he takes them to a deserted place, where he rapes, tortures and murders them. Nice guy, huh? He returns, often several times, to the body ‘dump sites’ to have sex with the rotting corpses, until such time as they’ve become too decomposed for his enjoyment.

We see him putting make-up on a woman’s severed head which he’s brought home and is keeping in his house. Disturbingly, he carries the wrapped body of an unconscious or dead woman out of her house and into his car in front of a passing group of four people and a dog, who apparently don’t see anything strange at all in what he’s doing.

In between the abductions, rapes and brutal murders, he studies law (sporadically), works as a volunteer in a telephone crisis centre (that’s a bit like the Samaritans over here) and checks in with his girlfriend, single parent and student Lee and her young daughter, for a dose of much-need family life. After one murder in particular, he’s starving with the hunger and Lee obligingly cooks a meal for him!

This film doesn’t make Lee (based on Elizabeth Kloepfer) look too good either. In fact, here, she’s a whingy, whiny nightmare who wants to keep tabs on Ted round the clock, but Ted has the wanderlust (he cruises for women constantly in his little Volkswagen Bug) and he just doesn’t operate that way.

She whines at his habit of seeing other women but doesn’t take any decisive action, she asks him what he’s thinking when he’s quiet (a big no-no), she pesters him about meeting his parents when it’s clear there’s some mystery there that he doesn’t want discussed, and she doesn’t question it when she finds a pair of handcuffs in Ted’s car that he says he’s never seen before in his life.

She’s not comfortable about being tied up and asked to play dead when they’re in bed together, but she doesn’t stand up to him because she’s weak and afraid of being on her own. I’m not judging her for that. I’ve done the same thing myself in the not-so-distant past. It’s a very ‘woman’ thing to do, shure.

Anyway, most of Ted’s ‘big moments’ are in here, but with the womens’ names mostly changed. There’s his spectacular abductions of, not one, but two, women from Lake Sammamish State Park on the one day in sunny July, his two escapes from prison, and his horrific attack on the Chi Omega sorority house in Tallahassee, Florida, during the second of these escapes.

We see his attempted kidnap of Carol da Ronch (1974) from the Fashion Place Mall, Utah, by the phoney ‘Officer Roseland,’ and one of Ted’s most shameful accomplishments, the abduction and murder of twelve-year-old schoolgirl, Kimberley Leach. Not that the other murders weren’t shameful too, but you know what I mean. A child, a twelve-year-old little girl…

The justice system threw the book at Ted after that. Retribution for his heinous crimes eventually caught up with him on January the twenty-fourth, 1989, when he was executed in the electric chair.

He manages to have sex in prison (bribing the guards was a common practice) and even conceives a child while inside, a daughter, with his new girlfriend and champion, Carol Ann Boone. Although we see the sex, there’s no mention of a child here.

We see the big bold brave Ted bawling like a baby when he has to have his head shaved and his rectum packed with cotton wool prior to talking that last walk to ‘Old Sparky.’ It’s as plain as day that all his pity is for himself, though, and not for the beautiful young women with families and talents and potential whose lives he stole.

What happened to ‘the court of Ted,’ Ted…? A big man around women, he shrinks and shrivels inside himself when he’s dealing with big tough men who are not going to stand any bullshit from him.

Like I said, this film doesn’t glamorise Ted, but instead makes him look like the cowardly weasel he really is. EXTREMELY WICKED, SHOCKINGLY EVIL AND VILE introduced Ted to another generation of young female groupies, but it’s not really the most accurate picture of the man and his crimes. This film from 2002 comes pretty close, I think. Check it out, but be aware that it’ll give you the willies.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books.

DERANGED. (1974) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

deranged mary table

DERANGED… THE CONFESSIONS OF A NECROPHILE. (1974) AN AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL FILM. DIRECTED BY JEFF GILLEN AND ALAN ORMSBY. WRITTEN BY ALAN ORMSBY. PRODUCED BY TOM KARR. SPECIAL EFFECTS BY TOM SAVINI.

STARRING ROBERTS BLOSSOM, COSETTE LEE, LESLIE CARLSON, MARIAN WALDMAN, MICKI MOORE, ROBERT WARNER, MARCIA DIAMOND, BRIAN SMEAGLE AND PAT ORR.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘The wages of sin are gonorrhea, syphilis and death. Remember that, boy!’

Amanda Cobb, Ezra’s Mother.

This film is loosely based on the story of real-life American boogeyman and murderer Ed Gein (1906-1984), although in this film he’s called Ezra Cobb for some reason. Maybe because the real Ed Gein was still alive at this time, I don’t know what the deal is with that.

Ed Gein, known as the Butcher of Plainfield, was the Wisconsin farmer-cum-handyman who achieved permanent notoriety when he was found to have peopled his house with the mutilated corpses of women, and mostly elderly women at that, after his mother’s death in 1945 at the age of sixty-seven.

He was the inspiration for Robert Bloch’s horror novel PSYCHO, which in turn went on to become Alfred Hitchcock’s most famous movie PSYCHO in 1960. Iconic weirdo Norman Bates (‘A boy’s best friend is his mother’) was probably the first cinema character to portray what might happen when a fatherless boy with an uber-domineering mother who gives him some very messed-up ideas about women and sex is abandoned in death by that mother. Unable to cope with her very significant loss, his mind gives way and he devises a method that ensures that he can hold onto her forever. If a few other women are sacrificed along the way, well sure, what harm?

The bonkers Ed Gein was also the inspiration behind the character Leatherface in THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974) and the character Buffalo Bill in the 1991 smash hit movie THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, which introduced the character of Hannibal ‘the Cannibal’ Lecter to the world, played so immaculately and memorably by Anthony Hopkins.

The Ezra Cobb in DERANGED is heavily emotionally attached to his own extremely domineering, deeply religious mother, Amanda Cobb. She’s bedridden and about to die when we meet her, but her venomous mouth has lost none of its power to shock and scare the child of her loins.

With her last breath, she’s telling her virgin son Ezra, who’s fifty if he’s a day, to watch out for the filthy, disease-ridden gold-digging whores who will flock to him now he’s such an eligible bachelor, with his own farm and a house to go with it and no doubt a few bucks in the bank as well. She’s filled Ezra so full of misogynistic poison that it’s a wonder he’s not scared off women for life.

He misses his mother so much that, one night, he imagines that he hears her calling to him from the grave. ‘Bring me home, boy! It’s cold and dark down here! Bring me home, I tell you!’ It’s his own voice mouthing the words but he thinks it’s his mother talking to him. Off he drives to the cemetery to dig her up, as happy as Larry once he gets her home and back in her own nice warm bed.

Over the coming weeks and months, he tries to patch her up with bits and pieces of animal skin, but it’s not long before he realises that human skin would work so much better for this purpose. What to do, what to do…?

When he hears about the recent death of his old Sunday-School teacher Mrs. Johnson, he digs her up, decapitates her gruesomely and uses her ancient facial skin to patch up his old Ma’s disintegrating kisser. The results, hideous beyond belief to the viewer, are mighty pleasing to Ezra Cobb, whom we can already see is completely and utterly mad.

His meeting with the equally bonkers Maureen Selby- is this what it sounds like when doves cry…?- leads to death and horror for poor lonely Maureen. And in front of her Herbert’s lovely photo, too! What in the wide world are things coming to?

The fate of attractive barmaid Mary Ransom is much more frightening. Ezra meets her in a bar and begins immediately to fixate on her. He cunningly slashes Mary’s tyres in secret one night so that she’s obliged to take a lift home with him.

This proves that his abduction of Mary is no spur-of-the-moment action but very much a premeditated one. What it proves legally I don’t know, but the educationally backwards and even mentally retarded Ezra can be as sly as a fox when pursuing his own twisted ends.

When the stunning Mary, described unflatteringly by the narrative voice-over as ‘thirty-four and already over the hill,’ follows Ezra into his isolated farmhouse and sees the little gathering of ‘women’ waiting to receive her in the parlour, it’s like the scene in THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE where the screaming girl meets Leatherface’s ‘family.’ It’s just horrible. Poor Mary, initially brought here to be Ezra’s ‘bride’ rather than just another ‘companion’ for Ma Cobb, goes into shock. 

Major spoiler alert here now, folks. If she’d known as she clocked in for work at the bar that night that, before the night was over, she’d be beaten to death with a human thigh-bone that she’d earlier seen being used as a drum stick by a transvestite freak wearing a titty-vest made of human skin and real titties, she might well have called in sick.

It’s funny when Ezra admits openly to his one friend, Harlan Kootz, that he’s got all the missing women up at his place. Harlan, who’s known Ezra since they were schoolboys together and who regards him as a harmless simpleton who does a bit of work around his- Harlan’s- place, just laughs and then berates Ezra for telling fairy stories. Well, he can’t say he wasn’t forewarned.

What happens to pretty little Sally-Mae, the high school girlfriend of Harlan’s son Brad, mirrors closely the fate of the real-life victim of Ed Gein’s, poor old Beatrice Wordern, whose naked body was found hanging upside-down in the Gein barn, gutted like a deer. Jesus wept.

It’s apparently the closest the film gets to reflecting the real-life murderous career of Ed Gein, who’s today known as a serial killer and serial defiler of the dead. Ezra doesn’t have sex with any of the corpses in DERANGED although Ed Gein is very much known as a man who liked a nice bit of necrophilia.

Still, we must remember that the word ‘necrophilia’ can have two meanings. Yes, it means having sex with corpses (Ted Bundy definitely did this, until the corpses became too discomposed for comfort), but it can also mean someone who is obsessed with death, corpses and cemeteries. Both Ed Gein and Ezra Cobb fit this bill.

Apparently, Ed Gein denied having sex with any of his corpses but only because they ‘smelled too bad.’ Would he have had sex with them then if they’d smelled as fragrant as a lily-of-the-valley Christmas bath-set? Is that what he’s saying?

I read in a biography of Ed Gein’s that he was as happy as a sandboy to be carted off to a state mental institution for the remainder of his life for his crimes. He never gave the authorities there a lick of trouble. I can kind of understand why.

He had company there and people who spoke kindly to him, it was clean and presumably warm and he would have been given three square meals a day. A far cry from the cold, dirty, cluttered isolated charnel-house where he lived alone with his ‘Mother’ and her ‘friends.’ I can’t say I really blame him. Anything’s better than that, even for a man like Ed Gein.

What a kick in the knickers Ed must have been for the Plainfield Tourist Board all the same. They can have as much good hunting (for shame!) and lovely picturesque snow there as they please, but will Plainfield ever be known for anything but being the home of the man who, by digging up his dead mother and preserving her corpse, simultaneously dug his way right into the annals of crime history and also into the very pysche of the American people?

You know what, I bet there are mothers in Plainfield today who still use old Ed as the boogeyman to fractious children. ‘Hush up now and get to sleep, you pesky young’uns, or Ed Gein will come and cart you away and make a lampshade out of you!’ Aw. It’s good to know he’s useful for something.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger, poet and book-and-movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor