Ed Gei’s influence on horror films

Imagine walking into a house and finding a woman with her head cut off and hanging by her ankles. Now imagine coming across chairs and lampshades covered in human skin. That’s the grim reality Plainfield police discovered when they broke into Ed Gei’s home in November 1957. Ed Gein, also known as “The Butcher of Prenfield”, was one of the killers. The most infamous series in history. While Gein only confessed to the murders of two women, he also had a penchant for raiding graves and stealing body parts.

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Police found up to 40 body parts in his home, but he claimed they were all stolen from graves during a series of necrophilia and grave robberies. With these body parts, Gein made lampshades, chair cushions, a makeshift trash can, masks made of faces, a nipple belt, lips like string for a window curtain, and a corset consisting of a female torso. Gein admitted to authorities that he stole from burial sites and made all of these items out of an obsession with his mother and a desire to create a female costume so he could be her mother. After his arrest, he pleaded not guilty to insanity and was committed for 10 years before being deemed fit to stand trial. During this trial, he was found guilty of only one murder, the second one, which he pleaded guilty to as clinically insane, and was sentenced to life in a mental institution. Ed Gein died in 1984 at Mendota Mental Health Institute of cancer and respiratory disease. With so many gruesome, out-of-this-world crimes he’s committed, it’s no wonder that horror movies use Gein as their murderous inspiration. Let’s take a look at a few.


by Alfred Hitchcock psychology (1960) brings Gei’s maternal obsession to the big screen. psychology It was a book written by Robert Bloch It was the late 1950s, and he lived a few towns over from Plainfield, where Gein lived and died. Although the novel was not originally based on him, before publishing it, Bloch wrote a few lines that may have been references to Gein’s work. Hitchcock then took the story and made the motherly Norman Bates look more and more like Ed Gein, especially the parts about dressing like his mother and keeping body parts.

Chain massacre

The 1974 horror classic took Gein’s obsession with leather and crafting leather goods to a whole new level with the creation of the character Leatherface. Co-author Kim Henkel said he was inspired by Gein and fellow serial killer Elmer Wayne Henley when creating the chainsaw-wielding maniac. We also see furniture made from body parts and a nod to the mother obsessed with keeping the matriarch’s corpse in the house.

The silence of the lambs

There are two direct nods to Gein in the horror staple The silence of the lambs It starts from 1991. Although Buffalo Bill is inspired by the fiction of serial killers, he is first inspired by Gein to skin the women he kills, then wear their skin and hair. We also see a scene where Hannibal Lecter wears the face of one of his victims to escape.

Three on Meathook

is carried out by William Girdler Set in 1972, this film follows the disappearance of four women who stumble upon an old farmhouse that a father and son duo has wreaked havoc on. When the police find the body of a decapitated woman hanging by her ankles, we see a nod to her son who wonders what happened to the victims as well as his dead mother.

It’s disturbing

This 1974 film feels more like a direct connection to Gein than an inspiration. It’s disturbing tells the story of a Midwestern farmer whose mother dies. Unable to cope with her loss, she keeps her mother’s dead body at home and begins robbing graves in search of a corpse to be with her mother. Finally, we see the man begin to kill and skin his victims, making masks of their faces.

Ed Gein (In the Moonlight)

This 2000 film is a direct homage to Ed Gein, depicting his murders and what he did with the bodies. The film suggests that he cannibalizes the bodies he steals, a fact that was never confirmed but never denied by Gein. Steve Railsback It took Gein extensive research to really bring the role to life and bring the serial killer to life, including reading five different books about Gein.

House of 1000 Corpses / The Devil Rejects

Image via Lionsgate Films

Rob Zombie2003 movie A house of 1000 corpses provides some direct inspiration. Ed Gein gets his exposé in Captain Spaulding’s Murder Ride to Educate Those About Terrifying Serial Killers. Additionally, Otis B. Driftwood’s character is a murderous villain who wears the skin of his victims. In 2005, Zombie was released Satan’s Rejectionscontinues the family history A house of 1000 corpses We see that Otis B. Driftwood continues to wear the skin of his victims.

American Horror Story: Asylum

Season 2 AHS introduce the killer Bloody face. Bloody face ultimately Dr. It turns out to be Oliver Thredson, and there are parallels between Gein and Thredson. In the scene, Thredson turns on the lamp after kidnapping Lana Winters. This lamp is made of human skin like Gein. There are also parallels to Obsession with Motherhood as Thredson continues to hold Winters captive and torture her into becoming a mother figure.

Art is real, and horror movies often imitate serial killers. Ed Gein would go down as one of the most infamous serial killers in history, and to this day he influences many of our favorite and most beloved horror films.

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