The Movie Killers That Were Inspired By Ed Gein

Biography says this of Edward Theodore Gein: He "wasn't actually a serial killer — he only admitted to killing two women." So there you go. That's all. Not such a bad guy.

With that nice and contextualized, what did Gein get up to? There were those two murders, of course — bar owner Mary Hogan in 1954, and Bernice Worden, a hardware store proprietor, in 1957. Worden's disappearance wound up being Gein's undoing. Her son was the local deputy sheriff, according to History, and a brief investigation led law enforcement to Gein's residence, where, via Penn State's the Serial Box, they found — deep breath — four noses, human bones and bone fragments, masks of human skin, skulls fashioned into bowls, chair covers made from human skin, a belt made of nipples, and many, many, many more examples of his premium cable-worthy down time hobbies. The reasoning behind his actions were a little nebulous, but centered largely around an obsession with his mother, and a desire to create a "woman suit," allowing him to don a female form.

If that all sounds passingly familiar, it's just because Hollywood has been eating lunch on this story ever since.

It writes a bad guy wearing skin or else it gets the hose again

The whole thing starts in 1959, when novelist Robert Bloch, who lived less than 50 miles from the town where the Gein crimes took place, published his most famous work, Psycho, the story of one Norman Bates and his panoply of mommy issues. The story would be immortalized a year later in Alfred Hitchcock's seminal work of the same name.

Fourteen years after that, two films came out in close proximity: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Deranged. Deranged was based largely on Gein's life, exploring the tale of a killer and skin upholstery enthusiast. Texas Chainsaw Massacre featured a killer adorned in a human skin mask, not unlike the ones found on Gein's property. That film even dubiously promoted itself as "based on a true story."

And of course, no list of fictional people-suit wearers would be complete without Jame Gumb, AKA Buffalo Bill, the all-croaking, all-dancing serial killer from Thomas Harris's Silence of the Lambs. Portrayed by Ted Levine in the horror movie adaptation, Bill was based on several prominent murderers throughout history, including Ted Bundy, Ed Kemper ... and yes, Ed Gein.