Criminally Insane (film)
Criminally Insane (also known as Crazy Fat Ethel) is a 1975 horror film written and directed by Nick Millard. It was followed by a 1987 sequel entitled Criminally Insane 2, and an upcoming remake titled Crazy Fat Ethel.
The morbidly obese Ethel Janowski (institutionalized due to her bouts of paranoia, depression, and violence) is released into the care of her grandmother, despite Doctor Gerard's unease regarding Ethel's discharge. Upon moving into her grandmother's San Francisco home, Ethel begins consuming massive amounts of food, and repeatedly claims that the employees of the institution were trying to starve her to death. In an attempt to stop Ethel's gorging, Mrs. Janowski empties the refrigerator, and locks the cupboards. Ethel and her grandmother argue, and when the elder Janowski threatens to call the sanitarium, Ethel impales her with a knife, then mutilates the old woman's hand to get the cabinet key she was holding in a death grip.
Ethel locks her grandmother's corpse in a bedroom, and places an order for more food. When the delivery boy arrives with the groceries, Ethel is unable to pay for them, and stabs the deliverer with a broken bottle when he tries to leave with the order. After Ethel moves the boy's body, her prostitute sister, Rosalie, arrives, and announces that she will staying for a while. Ethel ignores calls from her doctor, and attempts to cover up the odor of her decaying victims when Rosalie complains about the smell coming from the locked bedroom.
While at a bar one night, Rosalie runs into John, her unfaithful and abusive ex-boyfriend, and pimp. John follows Rosalie home, and manages to get on her good side, despite at one point proclaiming, "Rosalie, I'm gonna tell you the truth for once, okay? You need a good beating every once in a while. All women do. And you especially. Okay?" When John and Rosalie fall asleep after having sex, Doctor Gerard visits, wanting to know why Ethel has been missing her appointments with him. Ethel bludgeons the doctor with a candlestick holder, and puts his body with the others.
Three days after the murder of the delivery boy, Detective McDonough visits to question Ethel about his disappearance, and leaves after Ethel gives a few evasive statements. That night, Rosalie and John, unable to tolerate the stink coming from Mrs. Janowski's sealed room any longer, decide to break down the door in the morning. After her sister and John go back to bed, Ethel murders them with a cleaver, laughing maniacally while doing so. Ethel sleeps with John's body (possibly having sex with it) and is then shown doing things like destroying a mannequin, and frolicking near a cemetery in garish clothing. An alcoholic client of Rosalie drops by unexpectedly, and stumbles onto his Rosalie's remains, so Ethel strangles him.
Detective McDonough returns to re-interview Ethel, and even though Ethel gives contradictory information, the detective leaves without incident. Ethel proceeds to dismember her victims, stuff the pieces in sacks, and drive them out to a seaside area with the intent of dumping them in the ocean. Since there are too many witnesses present, Ethel is forced to return home with the bags, which she drags back into the house, forgetting to close the trunk of her car on the way in. A suspicious neighbor peers into the trunk, and calls the police after finding a severed hand in it. The film ends with Detective McDonough walking in on Ethel eating one of her grandmother's arms.
- Priscilla Alden as Ethel Janowski
- Michael Flood as John
- Jane Lambert as Mrs. Janowski
- Robert Copple
- George Buck Flower as Detective Sergeant McDonough
- Ginna Martine as Mrs. Kendley
- Cliff McDonald as Doctor Gerard
- Charles Egan as Drunk Man
- Sonny La Rocca
- Sandra Shotwell as Nurse
- Lisa Farros as Rosalie Janowski
Bill Gibron of DVD Talk gave a grade 4½ out of a possible 5 to the film, and wrote, "Oh Lord, you've GOT to love Criminally Insane. This unfettered freak show of a fright flick, starring the world's portliest serial killer (yes, even bigger than John Wayne Gacy and Leatherface, combined) is so downright depraved, so tantalizing in its turgid storytelling and squalid scenarios that words cannot begin to describe its baneful beauty" and "This is the type of movie the 70s are famous for, off the wall experiments in execution and excess. Imagine Kathy Bates blown up like a balloon and running around brandishing a butcher's knife and you start to get the idea of how stellar this fright flick really is. The terror is kept to a minimum, and the storyline is just an excuse to see Ethel eat and kill, but when it's as bloody and bold as this film, who really cares". Similarly, DVD Verdict's David Johnson stated, "This flick is deserving of its title—it is absolutely crazy" and "This is just a fun, gruesome hour of weirdness".