36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on August 29, 2001
Ed Gein was not one of the world's most prolific serial killers, but he is one of the most imitated. Several classic movie maniacs have been inspired by his real life crimes (Norman Bates, Leatherface, and 'Silence of the Lambs' Buffalo Bill, to name a few). But few people are really aware of the man who not only inspired a slew of slasher films but also a couple of heavy metal songs ('Dead Skin Mask' by Slayer, anyone?). This film, by director Chuck Parello, fresh off of another serial killer flick, 'Henry 2: Mask of Sanity', tries to play it's subject matter straight and indeed it does. There are no fake scares, no cheap one-liners, no charismatic killers slicing and dicing nubile young coeds. It is a serious and disturbing character study, a psychological tale that dwells very, very deep in the mind of it's title character. Played by the great character actor Steve Railsback (who played Charlie Manson in 'Helter Skelter' back in 1976) Ed Gein is a slow-witted child of a man, unable to cope with the passing of his mother (played by another great character actor, Carrie Snodgress). He goes about digging up graves and trying to resurrect the corpses. He is a cannibal and a necrophile and, in the movie's most jarring scene, enjoys dressing in the skin of his victims. The violence presented in the film is not terribly explicit, instead relying on suggestion to achieve a discomforting effect. For all it's merits however, 'Ed Gein' fails on many levels. Most of the supporting cast feels under-developed and under-acted. The low budget look of the film gives it a documentary feel which would be great if the movie was devised to be that kind of film. And there is one truly ridiculous scene involving completely unbelieveable computer generated fire effects that ruins the illusion of reality that Parello and Co. tried so hard to create. But all in all, 'Ed Gein' is a triumph. It's rare that a genre filmmaker like Parello chooses subject matter that could so very easily become nothing more then run-of-the-mill blood and guts fodder and actually turns it into an informative and engrossing tale. But he does. Railsback is the perfect choice for the role of Gein (think Carl from 'Sling Blade' meets Norman Bates and you got the idea) and he brings a sense of pity and childlike innocence to the role. 'Ed Gein' might not have the guttural punch of 'Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer' or the harsh suspense of 'Deranged' (also based on Mr. Gein), but it does one thing and one thing well: it tells the truth.
53 of 58 people found the following review helpful
on August 28, 2001
First off, let me say thank you to Chuck Parello for bringing us the first and only accurate film about the life and crimes of Ed Gein. This movie is top notch, even for low budget, and Steve Railsback plays Eddie to a "T." What an outstanding performance. Carrie Snodgrass is also brilliant in her role as Augusta Gein, the bible thumping tyrant mother. Truely award winning performances by both. The movie plays in the late 50's during Eddies murdering and grave robbing days, with constant flash backs to his childhood, growing up and losing his family members one by one. The film is about 95% accurate and ends after his arrest for the murder of Bernice Worden. (Collette Marshall in the film). Because the Wordens still actually live in Plainfield and their hardware store still stands, their names were changed for the movie. For anyone expecting to see a grisly bloodfest, this movie isn't for you. It was done in quite good taste, almost too good. I think they purposely kept the film's gore/scare level to a minimum, so as not to attract too much unwanted attention from people in Wisconsin and elsewhere. This film is not scary, not real creepy and not gorey. It could be considered the best "case study" ever done on Americas first "serial killer." Even the musical score is middle of the road, with no creepy under tones and no "stingers." That might disappoint alot of people expecting to be scared and grossed out beyond imagination. None the less, this film is one of the best movies I've seen and the ONLY movie on Ed you will ever need to see. Railsback's potrail of Ed Gein is almost unnerving, right down to the nervous twitch in his lip. Most of you will remember Railsback as Charlie Manson in Helter Skelter. Believe me, he is just as convincing if not more as the Wisconsin psycho. My only disappointment? Edddies farm house is much nicer and well lit then it should have been. Considering he had no electricity, and usually carried around a kerosene lamp, his farm house in this film is very well lit and the insane rubbish just isn't there. Bogey's rating: 11 beers out of a 12pk!
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
The strange case of cannibal killer and all around fruitcake Ed Gein of Plainfield, Wisconsin makes for an interesting book or movie, although it is not the sort of story you're likely to see as a network feature of the week. We've already seen several films based on the Gein phenomenon, like Robert Bloch's book (and Hitchcock's subsequent film version) "Psycho" and Tobe Hooper's "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre." Neither of these films attempts to tell the real story of Gein's numerous psychopathologies and actual crimes, and no film did until "Deranged" came out in the early 1970s. Even that movie, closer to what Ed Gein actually did but still fanciful in respects, couldn't capture the truly depraved incidents that unfolded in Plainfield during the 1950s. Finally, we were told in no uncertain terms, the film "Ed Gein" would peel the curtain back and really show us the actual monstrosities of the cannibal killer. Yeah, right. No film will truly show us the behaviors Ed Gein engaged in because no one knows for certain all of the atrocities he committed. Debate still rages today over whether the man was a raving lunatic or a cold, shrewdly intelligent beast fully aware of his actions.
Nonetheless, "Ed Gein" gives it the old college try. The movie spends a great amount of time examining the odd method of childrearing practiced in the Gein household. His mother Augusta (Carrie Snodgrass) is a woman dedicated to bible thumping and character assassination. The titular character (played by the always reliable Steve Railsback) and his older brother Henry (Brian Evers) spend most of their childhood and a significant amount of their adulthood sitting around Augusta listening to her drone on and on about her favorite biblical passages. Her greatest hits consist of those parts of the holy writings promising to bring justice and vengeance down upon the wicked, and for Augusta Gein the whole world is packed to the rafters with wicked people. Women especially come in for special scorn from this bitter old biddy, and she spends an inordinate amount of time warning her sons to avoid the "harlots" living in town. Her vitriol splashes on her husband too, an alcoholic largely reduced to surviving in a household you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy. After his passing, Augusta redoubles her efforts to teach the Lord's message to the boys. Henry tires of this nonsense, making plans to marry and move away. That he dies at the hand of his brother Ed during a hunting expedition is something the movie accepts as fact even though no one ever proved it.
Once Augusta Gein passes away, the tethers holding Ed to the earth break and drift away. He walls off her room like it is some sort of holy shrine, and he takes up reading books about concentration camp atrocities and primitive religious rituals. At some point Ed starts receiving mental messages from his deceased mother urging him to commit unspeakable atrocities, atrocities involving grave robbing and defilement. An inventive sort of chap, it's nothing for Ed to construct household items out of human bones and flesh after failing to resurrect the deceased through mental telepathy. Hmmm. But just as all human behaviors move to extremes unless checked, Gein's proclivity towards the bizarre soon escalates. Digging up corpses gives way to going out and procuring fresh bodies. Ed murders bar owner Mary Hogan (Sally Champlin) and drags her body back to his house for a whole new round of mayhem, an action fully justified in Gein's mind due to the woman's promiscuity. He later slays a local storeowner, a crime that is his undoing because of his own incompetence: he took the cash register and left a receipt book behind showing that he was the last customer to visit the store. The authorities discover a literal house of horrors when they enter the Gein farmhouse.
"Ed Gein" covers many of the smaller details of the Gein case. The movie even shows us a scene involving the two young boys who would come over to the farmhouse in order to pal around with Ed. On a much grimmer note, a very short scene reveals in horrific detail how Gein would dress up in clothing made from human skin, bang on a drum, and dance around outside at night. As yucky as this last situation is, it's about as horrific as the film gets. There are a few other unnerving sights and sounds, but "Ed Gein" is remarkably restrained considering the subject matter. The best aspect of the film has little to do with the gore and everything to do with the acting. Railsback does a good job in the role, capturing perfectly what all the written accounts of the man claimed: that Ed Gein often seemed like a child captured in a man's body. Carrie Snodgrass comes in for special mention, too. The late actress makes Augusta Gein look like the most frightening person on the planet. A few awkward moments in the film, in particular the cheesy CGI fire during Henry's death scene, doesn't take away from the performances turned in by Railsback and Snodgrass.
My impression of the movie is that the filmmakers strove to present a character study of this bizarre human being, with special emphasis on how he became such a depraved individual. The film also takes a position in the debate about Gein's mental state, namely that he knew his actions were wrong yet the voice of his mother he frequently heard in his mind overrode his inhibitions. "Ed Gein" brings us no closer to solving the enigma surrounding this aberrant person, but it's intriguing in that the movie is the closest thing we have on celluloid detailing his terrible crimes. Gorehounds, however, will probably express disappointment at the lack of grue.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on June 13, 2001
While the whole world was out getting mummified this weekend, I saw this impressive low budget shocker instead, and I'm glad I did...Character actor Steve Railsback is genuinely creepy as the title character and Carrie Snodgress(The Forsaken) is terrific as his mother. All of us are familiar with the story of serial killer Ed Gein, the man who actually penned that phase. We have seen almost all other movies based on his life-"Psycho", "Texas Chainsaw Massacre", and "Silence of the Lambs" being just a few of the over 40 films. There is nothing really surprising about the film, and hardly anything we, or at least I, didnt already know, but it is engrossing nonetheless....the performances, the screenplay, and just the whole dark mood throughout make it worthwhile. My only complaint was the cheesy fire effects, which looked terrible...however that was one mere second of a film that brilliantly goes inside the head of a brutal serial killer and makes us see just how twisted Ed Gein really was....the film really pleased me. I knew I was going to like it, but I had a feeling that it was going to make me feel sick because of all the twisted things Ed Gein is known for....the violence and the gore are handled with style however and they are all off-screen, much like "American Psycho", which was also based on the life of Ed Gein...this movie really is terrific and definitely recommended....my friend thought it started off slow, but it kept me on the edge of my seat the whole way through....there was not a slow moment throughout the whole movie and at a mere 85 minutes, it was at perfect length....whatever u do, see this movie....it's great....
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on February 23, 2006
I bought this movie and was not disappointed. After buying movies like Ted Bundy, Dahmer and Gacy, I was interested in seeing the true story of the first famous serial killer, Ed Gein. Steve Railsback gives an outstanding performance! He is wonderful for playing such characters. The movie highlights memories from his past with a very strict mother indicating that this is the reason Ed Gein murdered countless victims. There are many cool scenes in this movie. It's also interesting to know that Ed Gein's story inspired movies like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Silence of The Lambs and Psycho.We see a lonely, disturbed man who sees visions of his dead mother telling him to kill these women b/c they are all sinners. Ed listens to his mother and kills these women and brings them to his isolated farmhouse and mutilates the victims, making his own suits of human skin, and keeping trophies of his victims. In the end, Ed is caught and that's when the police discover the horror that awaits them in the Gein house. A wonderful movie for anyone interested in the Gein story. Definetly a movie worth buying!!
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on March 22, 2006
Being a horror junkie and having seen many many horror movies, I thought this movie was a very good dipiction of the life of one of the most insane serila killers of our time. The movie has some slow parts, but the acting is very good, and it leaves you with an uncomfortable feeling while watching it.
Like the other reviewer said only two known murders, but in the film you are led to believe that he murdered many more than 2.
This is a must see for the horror junkie and worth a spot in any horror collection.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Now this movie unlike "Dahmer" is more true than all of these serial killer movies that have been released and even if it does have parts where it's not true it's still scary.The names are true,the places are true,the murders are true(except for his brother that was never proved) but the film is creepy and Steve
Railsback does a great job as Gein.This movie is well done too,not relying on computers and wires for their special effects but using makeup and so on.The movie starts out with Ed Gein and his brother as a child with their woman hating mother.Now Ed grows to hate women and love his mother and only his mother and when she dies the last thing Gein loved was gone.But Ed begins to see his mothers ghost who tells him to kill.But Ed tries to raise his mother from the dead by digging up graves and using the skins banging on a drum,the movie is very creepy and disturbing and not for the weak of heart.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 2, 2001
Fans of Ed Gein's sad and bizarre life will be very disappointed by this sloppy, inaccurate attempt to capture the essence of one of the weirdest, outlandish human beings who ever lived. Some things -- the changing of the victim's names for the sake of their families -- can be overlooked and forgiven, but as for giving Ed an explosive personality and casting the rail-thin Carrie Snodgress as the obese-in-real-life Augusta Gein...these things are just unacceptable. The acting is only fair and the movie tends to focus more on Ed's interaction with Plainfield's citizens than it does on the childhood that eventually caused Eddie's dementia. Throw in some cheap-looking body parts and obviously fake blood, and you've got yourselves a messy, boring, falsified mockery of a movie.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on February 9, 2006
This movie is very gruesome. It explains exactally what Ed Gein was like and exactally what he did to his victims.Ed Gein was a serial killer who only had 2 known victims. His most grisly murder was of Bernice Wordon, of who's body was found hanging in his celler. This movie is 50 percent scary and 85 percent gruesome. It even has a warning on the front of the DVD lable that warns the viewer that it is full of grisly images and gore. This movie should not be watched by anyone under age 18.This is as good movie of which I liked alot. Watch it, but be prepared to become grossed out.YOU'VE BEEN WARNED!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 26, 2010
No need to just this insight into a fascinating psychotic Killer Ed Gein. I could talk forever about the perplexed mind and speculated motives from books as well. But this Movie is one of the best in style with BTK killer (SERIAL KILLERS IN FANCY MOVIE STYLE shooting we see here). Not same style, BTK in Kansas and more hyped modern movie style there, also worth checking out.
Ed Gein derives from a Northern Farmer Desolated realm of Winconsin. much more obscure, alittle town with around 632 citiziens only. Plainfield Cemetary surely must be forever haunted.
Well I will not reveal too much, but its a "Must" too see!
seen it many times, perhaps ten?
However find it stupid to READ the movie front DVD cover, Ed Gein described as First serial killer in America. Ohh they always been there, BTW. you forgot H. H. Holmes from Chicago, in the turn of the 1900 century, who killed in hundreds and Albert Fish operated before Ed Gein, The vampire of Brooklyn, a man with abnormal psychopathic S/M Sadistic mind, a Cannibal devouring children. Jane T. or the unknown infamous house-invasion Axe Butcher, crawling at night into houses from the streets of New Orleans, more than 100 years ago, plus countless clandestine Killers, often unknown to many people and medias and such!
Ed Gein was more of a collector and tried to ressurrect the dead. But killed only few compared to others?. And the psychosis and indoctrinating of his Mother played a huge role in this yearning within him. Very perplexed that there are not more valid information about this real living man, once upon a time. there are gateways to annihilation within this abyss.
More DVDS, with real analysing of criminal minds, like Ed Gein and others included, could be you should check out what i written of Dvds below, if this movie is for you?
America`s serial killers - portraits in evil. (A 10 episode Box-Set, get it at Amazon)
Most Evil - Doctor Michael Stone (Another Box-Set including Gein also, get it at Amazon)
PH.D Madsen (Copenhagen)