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Ed Gein
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Ed Gein (2000)

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Plot Summary:
"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."

Reviewer: Nathan Roscoe @horrorasylum
Review Date: 18 February 2002 My Rating: out of 5


# History - in the form of lurid paperbacks - has sought to paint Gein as a monster whose perversions knew no bounds. Films such as Psycho and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, have painted him as a disturbed individual who could only connect with reality through murder, mutilation and cannibalism. Ed Gein doesn't try to counter either of those points of view. What it does is portray a human being, a person with hopes and fears, thereby making him a character with whom the audience can, if not identify, then at least relate to in an attempt to understand his actions. This is a character study of possibly the most infamous serial killer of our times.

Ed is a loner, socially awkward, living alone on an isolated farmhouse and is renowned for his religious beliefs. In archive footage at the beginning, one of the townsfolk describes him as a 'nice guy', and it's that impression that Ed Gein seeks to underline. It wasn't an act. Ed was genuinely affable, even sweet. Until he shot you and dismembered your corpse.

Not an easy character to make sympathetic, but Railsback manages it in a performance that is both touching and creepy. The quality of acting is exemplary, with Carrie Snodgrass as Ed's harpy mother being a particular highlight. The script gives a genuine psychological insight into how someone can be driven to commit acts which most people would have trouble even thinking of - let alone doing. It's also injected with a certain amount of wicked humour ('Eddie', says a young boy, 'I think my Dad's right - you shouldn't be babysitting us anymore').

The depiction of mutilation follows the 'less is more' approach (as evidenced by the '' certificate) but this comes off as a coy, and the most infamous aspect of Gein's crimes, the 'birthday suit', is given a brief scene to unfortunate comic effect.

Although this won't be everyone's cup of tea, it's powerful - with a strong message that just because someone is capable of the most horrific acts, it doesn't automatically make them a mindless slavering zombie.

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