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Ethel Janowski

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You shouldn't have tried to go into grandma's room...
~ Ethel Janowski

Ethel Janowski is a morbidly obese serial killer and the eponymous main protagonist-villain of the 1975 film Criminally Insane (also once titled "Crazy Fat Ethel") and its sequel.

History

Criminally Insane/Crazy Fat Ethel (1975)

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.

Criminally Insane 2/Crazy Fat Ethel 2 (1987)

Due to budget cuts, an institution releases Ethel Janowski, a morbidly obese woman whose obsession with food caused her to murder six people, into a halfway house operated by the elderly Hope Bartholomew. As soon as Ethel is admitted into the Bartholomew House, it becomes clear that she is still delusional, convinced that Hope is her dead grandmother, and that a fellow patient named Edgar Stanley is the detective who arrested her. As time passes, Ethel begins demanding more food, and starts refusing to take her medication.

One day, while Hope is out, an orderly feeds the residents dog food, and taunts Ethel by slowly eating a chocolate bar in front of her. Ethel snaps, and kills the orderly by hanging him with a cord, an act witnessed by Edgar. A lieutenant is called in to investigate the death, and leaves after questioning Ethel. Edgar tells Ethel that he will keep quiet about what she did, in exchange for her desserts. Ethel tries to poison Edgar, and when that fails, she resorts to stabbing him with four knives.

After another visit from the lieutenant, Hope catches Ethel eating a bag of pretzels, and tries to confiscate them, prompting Ethel to bash her head in. Ethel proceeds to murder the remaining resident (a man who believed he was an insect) and one of the institution doctors when he drops by to see why his calls to the halfway house have not been getting through. Ethel then dances with a dog and a knife in the house's backyard, and when the lieutenant returns, she answers door, and laughs crazily as she states, "Welcome to Bartholomew House. I'm Hope Bartholomew, and I hope you'll be very happy here!".

Crazy Fat Ethel (Remake)

TBA

"After many years in a mental hospital, Morbidly Obese Ethel is released into the care of her mother. However, several people including a neighbor and the head nurse of the hospital begin to think that letting Ethel leave was a huge mistake..."
~ IMbd Synopsis provider

Murders

Criminally Insane

# Victim Cause of death Killer
1. Mrs. Janowski Impaled through the back with a knife Ethel Janowski
2. Glen Dickie Stabbed repeatedly with a broken bottle Ethel Janowski
3. Doctor Gerard Bludgeoned repeatedly with a candlestick holder Ethel Janowski
4. Rosalie Janowski Hacked repeatedly with a cleaver Ethel Janowski
5. John Hacked repeatedly with a cleaver Ethel Janowski
6. Drunk Man Strangled Ethel Janowski

Criminally Insane 2

7. Dinner Server Hung in a cord noose Ethel Janowski
8. Edgar Stanley Stabbed in the back with four knives Ethel Janowski
9. Hope Bartholomew Bludgeoned with a candlestick holder Ethel Janowski
10. Greg Unknown Ethel Janowski Debatable
11. Doctor Stevens Stabbed repeatedly with a knife Ethel Janowski

Gallery

Trivia

  • She is portrayed by Priscilla Alden, who also played Nurse Edith Mortley.
  • Alden herself was not an over-eater, she even stated the face-stuffing scenes were difficult for her.
  • A remake of Criminally Insane is rumored to be released titled "Crazy Fat Ethel."
  • Ethel's favorite TV show is Gunsmoke.

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