****(out of four stars)
Have you ever wondered where infamous horror films like, Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Psycho and Silence of the Lambs derived from? Well one name rings true to all of these films. The name is Ed Gein. After his grisly crimes he was infamously dubbed, The Butcher of Plainfield. His crimes sent shock waves throughout Wisconsin and the rest of the United States. Many people knew very little about the little, shy man named Ed Gein, but after his heinous crimes no one ever forgot about him.
Ed Gein grew up in a household with an alcoholic father and a religiously domineering mother. He and his brother Henry were close, but after Henry died in a mysterious fire, Ed only had his mother to lean on. When she died Ed Gein was lost. He stayed to himself; often reading graphic comics and books about the Nazi atrocities. He was a recluse, a loner and hardly anyone ever came within the walls of his home.
Most of you know the story of Ed Gein. Aside from the movies mentioned above, there are tons of other films inspired by his life and crimes. Just google them and you'll find an abundance of material on the Butcher from Plainfield.
If you don't want a movie, let me recommend an excellent read. Deviant: The Shocking True Story of Ed Gein, The Original "Psycho" is an outstanding book written by Harold Schechter. This book covers it all. Everything from Ed's childhood; his early upbringing with his overbearing, often overly possessive mother and his abusive father George, to his crimes, his trial and his being institutionalized.
Harold Schechter writes with such prose that at some moments you think you're reading a story so shocking that it could only be made from a wild imagination. This kind of horror is only seen in the movies, right? Wrong!
The book follows neighbors, law officials, friends and everyone else involved in the Gein story. From first hand accounts, the story and life of Ed Gein is unraveled right before your eyes.
Ed was only charged with two killings. But his ghoulish behavior is really why he's renowned. It seems that Ed liked to dig up bones of the recently (or long) deceased. He crafted soup bowls, lamp shades, and made "death masks" out of the dead bodies. And yes, he even dressed up in the skin suit of a woman. He would wear the face, breast vest and even the vagina. See the resemblance with Leatherface yet?
This is a very compelling read and I recommend it to any true crime fan. This stuff is only supposed to be made in the movies, not real life. We do have our fair share of "real" monsters lurking about.
Oh and by the way, his last name is pronounced Gein as in lean. His name does not rhyme with fine. Sorry I had to point that out but it just gets on my nerves.