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The true story of Edward Gein, the farmer whose horrific crimes inspired Psycho, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Silence of the Lambs. This is the first film to Gein's tormented upbringing, his adored but domineering mother, and the 1957 arrest uncovered the most bizarre series of murders America has ever seen. Written by
Ed Gein - (Special pre-release preview) USA/2001/18. Dir. Chuck Parello.
Hailed as the inspiration for many of Hollywood's greatest murderers, Ed Gein was a real-life serial killer operating in 1950's Wisconsin. We were treated to a special pre-release preview of this forthcoming biopic. Many may have been left with a strange sense of déjà vu.
'Psycho', the novel upon which Hitchcock's classic horror is based was inspired by the activities of the reclusive farmer, with the author Robert Bloch living just fifty miles from the town of Plainfield where Gein lived. The domineering mother character is consequently a big part of both films, as she instructs her wayward son to kill from beyond the grave. The skin wearing antics of 'Buffalo Bill' in Jonathan Demme's `The Silence of the Lambs' (based on the Robert Harris novel) were also a part of the twisted Gein routine as his butchered and ate his way through his victims, spreading fear through small-town America.
`The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' and `American Psycho' also owe a debt to this true tale, which demonstrates the full extremes of human depravity. Such was the myth attached to this story that it is surprising that no one has tried to bring it to the big screen before. The character of `Psycho's' Norman Bates is undoubtedly far better known than his real-life inspiration but director Chuck Parello takes a brave step and tackles the monster head on.
Ed Gein's shy existence from abused child to grave robber and murderer are carefully charted, with his obsession for anatomy and his mother always in the background. Whether completely truthful or not, the film portrays Gein as more of a misguided bumpkin than a cold-blooded maniac. The opening shows apparently authentic news footage from the time, with neighbours expressing their shock that such a `nice, quiet young man like Ed' could be involved in such horrific crimes. This adds a touch of realism to the proceedings, but the remainder from childhood through killings to capture is standard fare, with few surprises en route.
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