Criminally Insane

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The quintessential Fat Bitch.

"My heart is just fine as long as my stomach is not empty."


Criminally Insane (also known as Crazy Fat Ethel) is a slasher-ish horror film released in 1975.

Institutionalized for an indeterminate amount of time due to suffering from a number of problems, the most prominent of which is are her violent mood swings, the morbidly obese Ethel Janowski is eventually released into the care of her grandmother, despite the protests of one Doctor Gerard, who suggests that Ethel come in four times a week for electroshock therapy. Once home, the surly Ethel starts stuffing her face, eating her poor grandmother out of house and home. Becoming fed up with Ethel's gorging, granny empties the refrigerator and locks all the food away in the cupboards, telling Ethel that it's high time she went on a diet, whether she wants to or not. Not taking this well, Ethel proceeds to stab her grandmother to death, and cuts the key to the pantry locks out her cold dead hand.

With no one around to stop her, Ethel goes on an eating binge, and quickly runs out of food, necessitating she order more from the local grocery store. When the teen-aged delivery boy shows up with the food, and demands payment for it and other overdue bills, a frustrated Ethel murders him, barely having time to lock the body in her grandmother's room with the old woman's rapidly decaying corpse before her prostitute sister, Rosalie, shows up, needing a place to stay. Begrudgingly giving Rosalie, and her abusive pimp and boyfriend John, room and board, Ethel spins a lie about how their grandmother has gone away to visit someone, and beats Doctor Gerard to death when he stops by asking questions about where Granny Janowski is, and why Ethel has not gone to her scheduled treatments. With the bodies piling up (not to mention smelling terrible) and her housemates and the police becoming suspicious, Ethel starts to crack even more. What is a fat, unstable woman who just wants to eat in peace to do? Oh yeah, kill everyone!

A bit of a Cult Classic, Criminally Insane had a poorly received shot-on-video sequel thirteen years after its initial release, though much like Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 and The Boogeyman sequels, it consists primarily of footage recycled from its predecessor. What little new footage there is has Ethel being dumped in a lax halfway house due extreme budget cuts to the asylum she was placed in, and it isn't long until her appetite and murderous urges get the best of her.

In 2005, both Criminally Insane films got a DVD release by Shock-O-Rama Cinema, coming packaged with the vampire flick Satan's Black Wedding. While the sequel is barebones, Criminally Insane was bestowed with a commentary track and an interview with the director, a producer, and its star, Priscilla Alden.

A remake of the first film, using the alternate title Crazy Fat Ethel, is set for release in late 2012.

Tropes used in Criminally Insane include:

Ethel: (after killing Hope) "Looks like I just lost hope." (laughs)

  • Chase Scene: A rather Narmful one in 2, with Ethel chasing Doctor Stevens through the halfway house.
  • Coitus Ensues: Rosalie and John get hot and heavy on the couch with Ethel sitting nearby.
  • Curiosity Killed the Cast: Doctor Gerard barging into the house in search Grandma Janowski, and John and Rosalie's complaints about the smells emanating from the locked room making them threaten to knock in the door (Ethel even points out before killing Rosalie that she should have just ignored it).
    • In 2, after being out of touch with Hope for two days, Doctor Stevens drops by the halfway house to see what is wrong, and gets knifed by Ethel.
  • Daylight Horror: Every murder except the first.
  • Dead Person Impersonation: 2 ends with Ethel pretended to be Hope Batholomew, the halfway house director.
  • Death by Mocking: John, and the orderly in 2.
  • Death by Sex: John and Rosalie.
  • Direct to Video: 2.
  • Domestic Abuser: John.

"Rosalie, I'm going to tell you the truth for once, okay? You need a good beating every once in a while. All women do. And you especially."

    • And then they go back to having sex.
  • Dream Sequence: These are used to show most of the previous film's footage in 2.
  • Eat the Evidence: Unable to get rid of the bodies by burying them or dumping them at sea, Ethel resorts to this.
  • The Eighties: 2, which is set in 1986.
  • Evil Laugh
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: After a deliveryman refuses to give her the food she ordered, Ethel smashes a bottle over his head, then stabs him with a piece of the shattered remains.
  • Fat Bastard: Ethel.
  • Fat Idiot: Guess.
  • Flash Back: To the first film, throughout 2.
  • Hand of Death
  • Hospital Hottie: The nurse who administers Ethel's electroshock therapy.
  • I Love the Dead: Ethel sleeps with John's corpse.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: The film ends with a detective, called after a neighbor finds a severed hand in the trunk of Ethel's car, discovering Ethel in the middle of gnawing on a severed arm.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: The grandmother's death.
  • Improvised Weapon: Doctor Gerard is bludgeoned with what appears to be a candlestick holder, while Hope in 2 has her head bashed in with... something that looks like a goblet.
  • Insane Equals Violent: Who knew slight paranoia over food could lead to serial murder?
  • Jerkass: John, and the orderly in 2.
  • Knife Nut: Both a regular knife, and a meat cleaver.
  • Lady Drunk: The briefly mentioned Mrs. Janowski.
  • Leave the Camera Running: 2 could win some kind of award for this.
  • The Masochism Tango: Rosalie and John.
  • Mummies At the Dinner Table: Ethel props John and Rosalie's corpses up in a bed, and talks to them while scarfing down some potatoes.
  • Murder Is the Best Solution: Food locked away? Kill the key holder. Don't have enough to pay the grocery bill? Kill the delivery boy. Sister and her boyfriend complaining about the rank odors coming from the always locked bedroom? Kill them.
  • Nailed to the Wagon: Grandma Janowski decides to clean out the fridge, and lock all the food in the cupboards so Ethel can't get at it. Big mistake.
  • No Budget: At $30,000, this was apparently director Nick Millard's highest-budgeted film.
  • No Ending: The film literally ends with a detective finding Ethel partaking in cannibalism.
  • Numbered Sequels
  • Obfuscating Insanity: Edgar in 2, presumably.
  • Orderlies Are Creeps: The unnamed one in 2 feeds the halfway house patients dog food, and taunts Ethel by eating chocolate bars in front of her.
  • Overcrank: When John smacks Rosalie.
  • Padding: That... dream sequence, or whatever the heck it was supposed to be, and all the flashbacks to the first film in 2.
  • Pater Familicide: Ethel kills her grandmother, sister, and her sister's boyfriend.
  • Police Are Useless: Two murders at the halway house in 2 and Ethel isn't even a suspect.
  • Politically-Incorrect Villain: "That goddamn Jew doctor gave them orders not to give me enough to eat."

"You and that heeb are trying to starve me to death!"