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Ed Gein (movie)

2 Ratings: 0.5
A movie directed by Chuck Parello

Ed Gein, a shy and retiring 1950s Wisconsin farmer, shocked the nation in 1957 when he was discovered to be a deeply deranged serial killer. Gein, a serial killer of nightmarish proportions, became the inspiration for Robert Bloch's novel PSYCHO, … see full wiki

Cast: Pat Skipper
Director: Chuck Parello
Release Date: 2001
MPAA Rating: Unrated
1 review about Ed Gein (movie)

Ed Gein the working mans stiff

  • Jun 28, 2003
Pros: .

Cons: ......

The Bottom Line: ____________

I was challenged to watch this movie by ed_grover, and I gotta admit, I’ve never really heard all that much about Ed Gein. Now I’m kinda intrigued, wanting to know a little more.

I understand Ed Gein was used as the model for Norman Bates in Psycho, I can see that. As well, you can definitely see old Jame Gumb from Silence of the Lambs crawling forward. The major difference is those were fictional characters and they were just movies. Ed Gein was real.

Although there were many characters that passed through this movie and each had an impact in Gein’s life, I will focus only on Gein and his mother, Augusta. Steve Railsback played the part of Ed Gein with Carrie Snodgress as Augusta. Since Helter Skelter, I’ve had great difficulty in seeing Railsback as anything but Charles Manson. However, this is a much older Railsback, heavier, and bears no resemblance to Manson at all. It is the first time I’ve been able to separate the two characters.

As Gein he appeared slow-witted and socially backward. From what I have been able to ascertain from the national crime lab files, this ran pretty true to character. I don’t think you would qualify him as an active transsexual nor as a necrophiliac. Certainly he was socially removed from the community and definitely had a fascination with the female form. However, from what I could gather from the files, he said he never had sexual relations with the corpses he dug up from the graves, just used their skin.

Perhaps it was the overbearing influence of Augusta that drew his interest in the female body. It wasn’t as if he wanted to be a female, he just wanted to know what it felt like. Obviously he was obsessed with his mother, probably had latent sexual desires for her. Without further information I can’t make that observation a fact.

With Augusta you see a throwback to the mother character in “Carrie”, played so eloquently by Piper Laurie. Carrie Snodgress’s interpretation of Augusta gave me the creeps. She appeared wan, drawn and demented. Like Laurie she was a Bible thumping woman, calling forth the curses of the damned on her boys for their slightest infraction or for no reason at all. She ran a strict homestead, overbearing her alcoholic husband who often took his frustration out on young Ed. You didn’t notice as much with brother Harry but you assume he didn’t escape the vengeful wrath of either party.

Unfortunately this movie gives little or no background into the lives of this family. You have no idea why Augusta is so hell bent for leather, why daddy is a drunk, why Harry is a wimp or why Ed became fascinated with dead people. After his brothers death, under very suspicious circumstances that were never investigated, Augusta and Ed continued to be even more destructive in their relationship. Augusta died of stroke or heart attack or whatever, isolating Ed even more, and feeding his new obsession.

The death scenes in the movie really weren’t all that bad, showing little – some blood smears basically. Other than the corpse hanging gutted in the basement, reminiscent of the blood-letting scene with the pig, you really didn’t see much in the way of gore and even that was from a distance. You did notice some things around the place like bowls made from the skin off skulls, lamps made from the spine of a person, shrunken heads and facemasks made from real faces. But these things had already been done, you didn’t have to observe the deed.

As demented as it sounds, I did find a little humor in the movie. His ‘female suit’ dance on the front porch in the moonlight was morbidly funny but my favorite was his perfectly preserved puswa - he tied the cutest little bow for it. Ok, so I’m sick.

This wasn’t a good movie, by any means. The script & dialogue were slow, often boring. Interaction between characters seldom flowed like real conversation but was stilted, you sometimes thought the actors might have forgotten their parts and were trying to remember the lines. Maybe this was deliberate but I didn’t care for it.

I did think some of the shots in the movie brought interest to it, I believe they were real interviews from neighbors at the time of the ‘discovery’. These were old grainy, black & white shots and even if they weren’t real footage, it added a surreal feeling.

I find the entire life of Gein to be an interesting study. It pretty much follows what I have been thinking ever since the write-off started for Gay Pride Month, how our lives are formed by our ancestors and the way we are taught as a child. Gein may have been mildly retarded, which certainly wouldn’t have helped with the mother he had and the abuse she metered out.

That he was insane during this era goes without saying, but where did that come from? Did it arise from the less than perfect parenting skills in the family? Was it aggravated by the isolation Augusta forced on the family most especially the boys? Did Augusta herself feed and nurture his insanity?

Certainly he was a tortured child, mentally and physically. I know a lot of people have grown up under the same circumstances and have risen above them. But if Gein was mildly retarded or border line insane, wouldn’t the constant onslaught from this abusive background compound his problem? Not that it justifies his crimes, just an observation. How we interact with our children influences every fiber of their life and forms the adult they will become.

Ed Gein is a disturbing look into the influence early childhood can have on a person.

It was directed by Chuck Parello and written by Stephen Johnston. Steve Railsback won the Catalonian International Film Festival for best actor, the film won best film.

Children Learn What They Live
If a child lives with criticism, he learns to condemn.
If a child lives with hostility, he learns to fight.
If a child lives with fear, he learns to be apprehensive.
If a child lives with pity, he learns to feel sorry for himself.
If a child lives with ridicule, he learns to be shy.
If a child lives with jealousy, he learns what envy is.
If a child lives with shame, he learns to feel guilty.
If a child lives with tolerance, he learns to be patient.
If a child lives with encouragement, he learns confidence.
If a child lives with praise, he learns to appreciate.
If a child lives with security, he learns to have faith.
If a child lives with acceptance, he learns to love.
If a child lives with approval, he learns to like himself.
If a child lives with recognition, he learns that it is good to have a goal.
If a child lives with sharing, he learns about generosity.
If a child lives with honesty and fairness,
he learns what truth and justice are.
If you live with serenity, your child will live with peace of mind.

by Dorothy Law Nolte [1]


[1] thanks to SurgRN911 for finding this for me.


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