Texas Chainsaw Massacre may be a Hollywood work of fiction but the true spook factor is that Thomas Hewitt, Leather Face, is based on a real killer.
Ed Gein of Wisconsin committed two known murders but was found innocent due to reasons of insanity. The gruesome part was what the authorities found in Gein’s home. Lamp shades, suits, necklaces made of human skin. Bowls, kitchen utensils, and tools made of human bone. Reality may be more wicked than fiction. The chainsaw welding lunatic of Texas Chainsaw Massacre may not be the true story but the truth of Gein’s acts give goosebumps. Edward Theodore Gein born on Aug. 27, 1906 committed these horrendous acts in the 1950′s. A time looked back by many a politician as being a period associated with the American Dream. Gein suspected of killing his own brother as his first victim in March of 1944. Shortly after his mother died of multiple strokes leaving Gein alone. Gein, after arrested, admitted to and identified his first shooting victim as Mary Hogan in 1954. Bernice Wooden disappeared on Nov. 16, 1957 in Plainfield, Wisconsin. Gein was suspected of being involved in the disappearance and surely enough the first gruesome sight when authorities entered the Gein house was that of Wooden’s corpse hung upside down decapitated and gutted like an animal.
The most iconic discovery was that of shrunken heads which Gein said were purposely sent by a cousin who served in World War II but later were discovered to be made of real skin that was carefully peeled off of cadavers so Gein can use as masks. Gein would later admit to being a grave robber, digging up women who he thought resembled his dead mother. The American Nightmare was born. Many characters have been based off of grotesque items found in Grein’s lair.
Psycho’s main character Norman Bates who kept his dead mother with him and continued hearing her demands even after her death.
James Gumb, Buffalo Bill, from The Silence of the Lambs who, as Gein did, wore the skins of women to mimic transsexual transformation. It is unknown if that was the reason for Gein, or if it was just to mimic his mother, but he did have a suit made of skin from women.
Texas Chainsaw’s own Thomas Hewitt who wears a mask composed of human skin and committed horrendous murders.
In reality, Gein died July 26, 1984 of respiratory and heart failure due to cancer in Goodland Hall at the Mendota Mental Health Institute. Buried in Plainfield Cemetery his gravesite was frequently vandalized over the years. Souvenir seekers chipped off pieces of his gravestone to take home. The bulk of it was stolen in 2000 and recovered in 2001 near Seattle. Presently displayed in a Wautoma, Wisconsin museum.
For those who don’t have a chance to visit the Museum check out the newest Texas Chainsaw 3D open in theaters now.