IMDb > Criminally Insane (1975)
Criminally Insane
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Criminally Insane (1975) More at IMDbPro »

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Criminally Insane -- An obese woman recently released from an insane asylum kills anyone who attempts to get her to stop eating


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Nick Millard (screenplay)
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Release Date:
1975 (USA) See more »
She's 250 Pounds of Maniacal Fury!
An obese woman recently released from an insane asylum kills anyone who attempts to get her to stop eating. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
(111 articles)
User Reviews:
A Different Kind Of Exploitation Horror Movie See more (29 total) »


  (in credits order)
Priscilla Alden ... Ethel Janowski
Michael Flood ... John
Jane Lambert ... Mrs. Janowski
Robert Copple

George 'Buck' Flower ... Detective (as C.L. Lefleur)
Ginna Martine ... Mrs. Kendley (as Gina Martine)
Cliff McDonald ... Dr. Gerard
Charles Egan ... Drunk Man
Sonny La Rocca
Sandra Shotwell ... Nurse
Lisa Farros ... Rosalie

Directed by
Nick Millard  (as Nick Philips)
Writing credits
Nick Millard (screenplay) (as Nick Philips)

Produced by
Frances Millard .... producer
Cinematography by
Karil Ostman 
Film Editing by
John Lincoln 
Casting by
Harold Morris 
Art Direction by
Charles R. Fenwick 
Makeup Department
Gigo .... makeup artist
Production Management
Ray Sikes .... unit manager
Sound Department
Ronald Gertz .... sound
Camera and Electrical Department
Larry Bange .... still photographer
Francois Truchon .... camera operator
Other crew
Dave Cox .... continuity

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

61 min
Filming Locations:

Did You Know?

Filming took five weeks in the Spring of 1973.See more »
Ethel Janowski:My heart is just fine as long as my stomach is not empty.See more »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in Video Violence 2 (1987) (V)See more »


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7 out of 10 people found the following review useful.
A Different Kind Of Exploitation Horror Movie, 8 September 2006
Author: Steve Nyland (Squonkamatic) from New York, USA

See, Ethel isn't actually insane. She just wants to eat, sit around the house by herself and be left alone for some seconds on dessert. Maybe thirds. Hell she'll clean off the whole sponge cake, the can of icing, maybe some ice cream too on the side. If one thing, she's not shy about her craving for food, and how she lets it consume her. She doesn't eat the food so much as the food kind of uses her as a conduit. Ethel is merely a walking process by which it gets eaten. I will always refer to this movie by it's most famous re-title: FAT CRAZY ETHEL. Try it on a double bill with FAT GUY GOES NUTZOID and remember the cheeze dip. FAT CRAZY ETHEL was one of two startling horror features made by porno/exploitation veteran Nick Millard in an ill-fated attempt to go straight in the mid 1970s: Check out SATAN'S BLACK WEDDING for something a bit more conventional, though not much more. His work might not have grabbed hold of the imagination of mainstream viewers, but fans of ultra-low budget indie regional horror will find a fascinatingly claustrophobic and morbidly obese little horror thriller here. The film mostly takes place within the creepy, tacky interior of Ethel's aunt's house, where she has returned from a couple months of helpful shock therapy to wean her from her insatiable cravings for food. It didn't work but Ethel can live with it so long as the grocery bill is paid. This in a neighborhood where groceries are delivered right to your door: Bacon, chops, cereal, eggs, plenty of ice cream & raw cookie dough.

The fun in this movie is twofold: First, watching Ethel slowly and in an almost Hitchcockian manner find herself pretty much needing to murder people to keep the flow of fatty, caloric foodstuffs coming -- and to silence any harping voices in the peanut gallery urging moderation. One of the things I like about how Ethel's character is drawn has to do with how profoundly unhip, square and uninvolved in the world she is. The deaths don't mean anything to her personally other than the need to hide the remains, which does become a problem after a while. But if it wasn't for her uncontrollable gluttony she could fit right at any social circle dedicated to the bitter & withdrawn. Like a Tool concert or maybe the MPAA. The other pleasure in the film is a guilty one, which is making fun of fat people. They are one of the last socially acceptable prejudices to have, since fat people are by nature absurd, greedy and unattractive pariahs now that one legged Eskimos with AIDS are off limits too. I'm playing devil's advocate with this one: Prejudice of any kind is a bad thing, especially when you get to know the target of your hatred as a person. The catch is that this movie doesn't really let you, keeping the viewer at arm's length observing her behavior and being welcomed to criticize or even outright laugh at her for being so disgusting. Watch her plow through a box of Nilla Wafers or scrape some extra eggs onto her plate to see what I mean. Since the film regards her as a freak and regards what she is doing with clinically detached disdain (killing people is worse than overeating, at least in my book) it's OK to regard her the same way. As a walking stomach.

Ridiculing someone for who they are is always more fun and safer in numbers, so ETHEL is actually quite a little crowd-pleaser and has a little cult following due to its short life as a Drive In curiosity or home rental oddity. It's hard to forget a movie like FAT CRAZY ETHEL, which once you get down to brass tacks is an exploitation film that is exploiting the obese & insane. Ethel is as sane as you or I, she just finds herself propelled down this path of antisocial behavior by her lust for food. The inevitability of it all is the payoff in a way, and while it may not be titillating to most to watch Ethel's life spiral out of control, the movie's utterly banal, humdrum and everyday look has a certain charm to it that fans of non-Hollywood "regional horror" will get a kick out of. And again the claustrophobia is hard to ignore, especially with a 350 pound woman occupying what little elbow room there is. That such a big woman is confined to such a teeny, tacky, unenjoyable house is half of what's scary about it: Imagine being stuck in there with her. Ick!

So it's behavioral horror where a person is defined by their behavior -- This is how 350 pound food addicts behave in the movies, taken to surreal heights of exaggeration that plays on our own paranoias. We all know the 300 pound shut in dysfunctional idiot up the block, we all suspect that something odd is going on behind closed doors that keeps them from sweating it off just via respiration, and here is an example of what they could be doing. It's almost a perfect little urban nightmare, and over quickly enough to allow viewers to also watch the comparatively awful & unredeemable FAT CRAZY ETHEL 2. If nothing else, that will help you appreciate what a taught little exercise in urban paranoia this is. It's ultra low budget and everyday reality production values may turn off viewers who rely on pyrotechnics or flying squirrels to enjoy a horror show, but give her a try especially in the company of friends and beer and snacks. Ethel gets her own bag.


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