The sinister life story of notorious serial killer Edward Theodore Gein has inspired some of the most popular horror films in the history of cinema. Murderous Minds: Ed Gein examines the twisted psyche of this singular madman, and attempts to discern fact from fiction when it comes to the many depictions of Gein in popular culture.
While Psycho, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and The Silence of the Lambs weren't full-fledged biopics, they all shared gruesome elements of Gein's story.
Like the character of Norman Bates, Gein had a dominant mother he adored beyond measure. Brought up in a violent household with a drunken father prone to rages, he depended upon his mother for strength and guidance. It is believed that her passing in 1945 contributed greatly to his descent into his own sick fantasy world.
From all outward appearances, Gein seemed like a meek, awkward but otherwise polite man who kept to himself in his farmhouse in Plainfield, Wisconsin. In reality, he was making frequent trips to nearby Plainview Cemetery in the middle of the night and scavenging recently buried corpses for body parts. His reign of terror also involved kidnapping and murder.
After his arrest, police searched Gein's farmhouse and discovered that he was far from a mild-mannered yokel; he was, in fact, a psychopath the likes of which the world had never seen. They found furniture made of bones, cups crafted from skulls, and masks fashioned from the severed facial skin of his victims.
The film utilizes a scattering of news footage and appropriate stock photography to weave a discomforting and ghoulish tale. Aside from its focus on Gein's troubled upbringing and legacy of heinous brutality and desecration, the film details the trial that followed his arrest, his petition to be freed in 1974, and his eventual death ten years later.
Murderous Minds: Ed Gein is not for the squeamish. But if you have a fascination with the macabre, the film provides an informative take on events that have long been clouded in infamy.