Movie Reviews 162 – Ed Gein (2000)

3 Pack Killer DVD SetI got my hands and the Killer 3 DVD Pack which features movies for three of the biggest serial killers in US history, Ed Gein, John Wayne Gacy and Jeffrey Dahmer. So let’s run them off one at a time.

Ed Gein (2000)

Ed GeinUnless you’re a bona fide horror movie fan or dally in psycho serial killers, the name Ed Gein probably doesn’t mean much to you. But the real life Ed Gein was something of a sensation when his secret life came to light leading to his shocking arrest in 1957.

Beyond the mere killing of victims it was the deeds performed on the body remnants that captured the headlines of the Plainfield Wisconsin small town loner. Among the many grisly artifacts found in his home at the time he was incarcerated were human noses, human skin face masks, female heads (some with the tops sawn off), chair’s upholstered in human skin, a lampshade made with a human face, and skull bowls. He also had a collection of human female genitalia. There is more, but the point I’m trying to make is that given this list of artifacts it becomes clear why Gein’s notoriety transcended the news headlines and proved to be fertile fodder for Hollywood. The movies Psycho and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to movies directly inspired by Gein. Other examples abound and one could argue that the domino effect of those movie was what gave rise to the Slasher films of the 70’s. Even Silence of the Lambs was a byproduct, not because of the character of Hannibal Lecter, but the killer serial killer Lecter was engaged to help find.

Originally titled “In the Light of the Moon” , “Ed Gein” is the US release title of the movie. The film does a great job of sticking to most of the factual events in Gein’s life and also captures most of the atrocities he performed, some in great detail, others only presented briefly or hinted at, and as such it is a factual historical presentation. The acting is fine (Steve Railsback as Ed and Carrie Snodgress as his Bible quoting mother in particular), but script wise the movie is devoid of any excitement. Sure we get to see some pretty horrific stuff, but at the same time this is all presented in a relatively tame and timid manner, nearing a documentary pace. We certainly get some insight into Gein’s inner demon and some reasons that certainly explain his skewed mindset, but not as much as I had hoped. I do love the fact that they did not really embellish the known facts and acts (and who needed to do that given the ghastly truth in this case), but I wished the presentation was a bit more energetic and not as flat. If the ‘true story’ is what you are seeking, the movie does deliver and doesn’t leave out many ‘real life’ facts. But for real trills, you’re better off watching all those ‘inspired’ offspring.

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