As Halloween approaches, we’ve been settling in every night on the couch with a bowl of popcorn and sugary snacks to enjoy a new terrifying tale. Some of our favorite horror flicks include Rosemary’s Baby, Hellraiser, and the Friday the Thirteenth and Nightmare on Elm Street series.
But nothing is truly scarier than a movie based on a real life serial killer. Did you know that the movies Psycho, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Silence of the Lambs were all inspired by the same murderous man man? If you haven’t heard this story, you’re going to want to read on.
In 1950s Wisconsin, there was a very lonely and disturbed man named Ed Gein living within a loveless and estranged family. Growing up, the young man had idolized his mother and resented his father and older brother. After the deaths of the men in the family, Ed cared for his mother until her dying day. But the lose of his object of obsession created a fracture in his psyche, and what happened next would shock and disgust the world.
The Biography Channel has documented the story of Ed Gein, a psychopath and serial killer who inspired many famous cinematic villains: “Ed Gein was obsessively devoted to his mother, a religious fanatic. After her death, Gein began robbing graves—keeping body parts as trophies, practicing necrophilia, and experimenting with human taxidermy. He then turned to murder, killing at least two women in 1957.
“Edward Theodore Gein was born on August 27, 1906 in La Crosse, Wisconsin. The son of a timid alcoholic father and a fanatically religious mother, Gein grew up alongside his older brother, Henry, in a household ruled by his mother’s puritanical preachings about the sins of lust and carnal desire.
“Obsessively devoted to his mother until her death in 1945, Gein never left home or dated women. After she died, he became increasingly deranged and eventually began prowling cemeteries to unearth recently buried female corpses. He would cut off body parts and keep them as trophies, returning the corpses seemingly undisturbed to their graves. In 1954, Ed Gein turned from grave robbing to murder, a task he was less meticulous about. Police implicated him in the murders of two women in 1957. During the investigations, police learned that he had practiced necrophilia and experimented with human taxidermy.
“That same year, Gein pleaded not guilty by reason by insanity. He was found unfit to stand trial and committed to a mental hospital for criminals. Nearly ten years later, he would be declared fit to stand trial and was ultimately found guilty of murder. He was confined in various criminal psychiatric institutions, including the Central State Hospital in Wisconsin and the Mendota Mental Health Institute, where he died of respiratory and heart failure due to cancer, on July 26, 1984, at age 77.
“His killings live on as the infamous inspiration for such film characters as Norman Bates (Psycho), Jame Gumb (The Silence of the Lambs) and Leatherface (Texas Chainsaw Massacre).”
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