Ed Gein

Wicked (Wisconsin) Wednesday Pt. 13: In the Light of the Moon/Ed Gein


Now I would be lying if I didn’t say that this title reminds of me some dramatic French romance film. In the Light of the Moon sounds so cozy. This is a film that should have a synopsis something like, “He thought he had everything: a job, a flat in the city, more money than anyone could want. But there was still something missing – love.”

But alas, it’s another week of Wicked Wisconsin Wednesday and it is yet another week where I am subjected to yet another poor movie based on Ed Gein. This Spanish/Portugese production (which also goes by the more apt name Ed Gein in Australia and the States) was released in 2000. It’s possibly the best-known film based on the killer’s life. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the more uninspired.

The film opens up with some old footage of neighbours and friends of Gein getting interviewed by the news. It’s a nice, eerie way to set things up. It then moves on to a young couple getting freaked out by hearing something in the cemetery at night. Despite the title, this couple is not the romantic centre of the film. But like most Ed Gein movies, it picks up near the time of his mother’s death. Viewers only see his family life through flashbacks.

Two boys stop by at Gein’s one morning. These sorts of scenes always serve as a reminder of how human and normal Gein was to most people. He was a bit odd, but still well-liked by many in the community in Plainfield. It isn’t long before the youngest boy stumbles upon some heads in Gein’s room – which he claims are relics from the war (this is a nice true story that was a nice touch here).

The casting of serial killer-regular Steve Railsback is quite good: he’s polite, but just the right amount of sinister. He is often made fun of behind is back by various men for being a bit strange. He hits the right spots to make you feel a bit of sympathy while being reeled into his disturbed mind. The flash backs of his interactions with his mother Augusta are pretty good at enhancing the depth of character for Gein (even if they are some of the more silly scenes of the movie). Unfortunately, this is where the movie starts to fill in the gaps of history.

Here Ed is seen killing his brother George, which was never proved. It’s over the top and a bit cringe-worthy to watch. Here the film seems to stop. Or perhaps it just got too predictable, which I guess is to be expected considering this is a biopic of sorts. But knowing a story doesn’t mean it has to be done in the most boring manner possible. The use of the momma/Ed scenes start to become more frequent as the film goes on to show the progressive decline of Gein’s mental health. Unfortunately, this is pretty dull to watch.

burningbushHow the rest of the film plays out is as much as one would expect. It’s pretty light on the gore and detail here, leaving much to the imagination. But somehow it doesn’t really engage the mind. Rather, it puts it to sleep.

The acting is over the top, the facts are being toyed with, almost every scene is about three times more dramatic than it needs to be, but Ed Gein isn’t so bad. This movie mostly just suffers from lack of imagination. It plays everything so straight, and that includes the scene with the super bad burning bush effects.

This is not the best Ed Gein movie (that award still goes to Deranged). Though it is still heads and shoulders above that other “Ed Gein” movie with Kane Hodder. The film is just not that effective in making you feel anything. There is some sympathy towards Railsback’s Gein, but that’s about it. Just a little mild disgust and discomfort. I quite looked forward to it ending about half of the way through. If it wasn’t for Railsback, this probably wouldn’t be worth anyone’s time to go out of their way to watch.

Wicked (Wisconsin) Wednesday Pt. 8: Ed Gein: The Butcher of Plainfield


Another week. Another Ed Gein. What is it about serial killer biopics that makes people produce so many shit movies. This week I was stuck watching yet another film based on Gein because apparently I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel now (not like I’ve been picking from the cream of the to begin with). This is not the 2000 Spanish film that also goes by the name In the Light of the Moon. Noooo. I don’t even get to watch THAT version. Instead I got the treat of watching this 2007 shitfest – Ed Gein: The Butcher of Plainfield.

This film centers around a deputy a small town in Wisconsin. Ah yes, you must remember the deputy that was so involved in solving Gein’s case, right? No. Well, he’s the main character and Gein’s kidnapped his mother and girlfriend! The plot chugs along slowly with a version of Ed Gein that is so confounding it constantly distracts from the film. Actually, I have no idea what this movie was about. I think it takes place in a ghost town in the deep south because everyone has a funny accent and every set looks like it was abandoned decades ago.

Ed Gein has such an atrocious script it barely holds attention at any point. Despite the gore in places, it hardly seems horrifying because Gein’s motivations are never given. In fact, if the viewer knew nothing about the real story they might not have the faintest clue what is happening. I don’t think the point of a movie is to ever make the audience groan in pain or boredom. There are scenes that actually evoked a full-on eye roll from me. Yes, it turned me into a snobby 15-year-old.

What is so infuriating about this movie is that half of it isn’t even true. This is a film with Ed Gein’s name painted across the top and it isn’t even about the terrible things he did. Did this movie and Deranged get their titles mixed up? Kane Hodder (best known for his turn in several Friday the 13th films and the Hatchet trilogy) plays Gein and this was a totally perplexing casting choice. Hodder doesn’t look a thing like Gein. He’s big, tall and menacing – nothing like the thin 50-year-old Gein was when he committed his two murders. They even put Gein’s actual picture in the opening credits. Did they think the audience would be stupid to think this actor would be believable as the same man? Why give them the chance to compare?

There is definitely sorely lacking in this movie, and that’s a total misunderstanding of Gein’s psyche. He wasn’t some hard-ass who enjoyed beating people up. Getting the story this wrong… might as well just make it about something else completely, but you know. Movies. How do we make money? Usually I try not to be too hard on movies, but it is completely disrespectful to everyone involved in the real horrors of this story to have some sort of sick make-believe be written about it.

I usually don’t have ratings in my reviews, but I would like to give this shit show a total 0 out of 5. Or maybe 1/2 a star because it had a beginning, middle and end. This is this worst un-fun movie I have watched in a very long time. And that’s coming from someone who had to watch Black Cadillac.

Wicked (Wisconsin) Wednesday Pt. 7: Deranged or Deranged: The Confessions of a Necrophile


“It is a human horror story of ghastly proportions and profound reverberations. But because it is human, perhaps we can learn something from it… something of ourselves, of our own fears and needs. But please, let me warn you… the events have been recreated in detail. Nothing has been left to the imagination. It is not a story for the squeamish or the fainthearted. Now that you stand warned, we can proceed with our story.”

Ed Gein has become almost a part of Wisconsin folklore. A man seemingly only ever alive in legend. His evil spirit seems to whisper through the trees at times. He haunts the subconscious of every small farming town. But his story is about a demented part of the human soul that still seems to fascinate people all these decades later.

There are a whole slew of films inspired by this notorious Wisconsin’s resident. Three of the most iconic killers in cinema (Leatherface, Norman Bates and Buffalo Bill) all take their inspiration from this twisted, sick man. Plainfield, Gein’s hometown, was about an hour from where I grew up as a kid. Both of my parents were quite young in 1957, but my dad still remembers that November. It is one of the few things that keeps this horror story based in reality.

Deranged: The Confessions of a Necrophile isn’t a fun one, you can probably assume that by the title, but it can sometimes be a bit of a funny film. Just watch the cheerful trailer for yourself:

What this trailer is sorely lacking is that AWFUL organ music. I don’t mean awful as in “songs by an organ player who has taken three lessons,” I mean the most disturbing organ music you will hear in a horror film. It sounds like you walked into a church where everyone has started to decompose, and that’s sort of what this movie feels like.

Ezra Cobbs (played by the compelling Roberts Blossom) lives on a farm with his mother Amanda, who has been paralysed by a stroke. This part of his story is much like Gein’s (in fact, the two are pretty much exactly the same, which begs the question as to why they decided to change his name anyway). Ez is dedicated to his mother, who has essentially manipulated him his entire life. This woman is terrible. Her life motto is, “the wages of sin is gonorrhea, syphilis and death.”

But after spewing her twisted idea of “religion” one more time, the old woman bites the big one. This was one of the first films Tom Savini ever worked on. This scene alone has his finger prints all over it. The bright colour of blood in the 70s mixed with pea soup is pretty appalling.


It becomes obvious that the loss of Mama will take a toll on Ez. At her funeral, he has an exchange with his neighbours Harlan and Jenny Kootz. Harlan remarks that Amanda looks like she is sleeping. But of course to Ez, she really is just sleeping – waiting for him to wake her up and take care of her once more.

Life for Ez without Mama is not easy. It is to write him off as someone who is just nuts (which he is), but this is the mind of a many who was clearly mentally abused by his mother for his entire life. Despite how terrible of a woman she is, he can’t realise that because he worships her. He keeps her room nice and writes her letters every day, but Mama isn’t pleased.

She keeps tormenting Ez’s mind. He abandoned her… So a year after her passing, he digs up her grave and brings her home. All while feeling massive guilt for letting her be buried in the first place.


With mother and son being reunited, Ez begins his work “restoring” his mama back to her former glory. He gets the idea to begin digging up graves and starts to take bits from the female corpses and create a new flesh for his mother. But it isn’t long before his bosses, the Kootzes, recommend he starts to take ladies out.

When Ez starts to ponder their advice, he remembers a name his mother mention to him on his deathbed: Maureen Selby. Why can Ez trust her? Because he’s a fat heifer. This was one of the funniest moments in the movie, for me. Perhaps it just brought me joy to hear someone be called a heifer. Life is strange like that. He agrees with the Kootzes and goes to meet Maureen.

Now these scenes with Maureen at terribly strange. Like with the Kootzes, Ez is super open about how crazy he is, but no one listens to him. When he tells Maureen he talks to his mama, she isn’t concerned because she talks to her ex-husband. The two begin to grow fond of each other, but that is until Ez remembers the advice his mother gave him: ” stay away from filthy, black-souled sluts with pus-filled sores.”

Only a mother’s love.

But Ez’s obsession with women only grows, and spoilers – this one doesn’t have a happy ending. If you know Gein’s story, Ez’s isn’t too different. There are some macabre scenes that occur – many horrific but many also treading that line between horror and comedy. The scenes with the Kootzes are full of suspense. This soft world that Ez lives in is never cruel to him, but no one (especially Ez) seems to understand how sick and twisted his mind is.


This movie is bloody disgusting. I’m glad I planned my meals around it because all the rotting flesh is enough to make you feel just a bit ill. Ezra Cobbs is a sick man, but you can’t help but feel something for a man that has been so disturbed by the only person he ever really loved. Deranged surprised me by how much I enjoyed it. There is a lot of style here for a horror film released in ’74 and it really tries. Roberts Blossom gives a haunting performance of a man totally unhinged but a victim to his own mind. It actually affected how I felt afterwards – which is a lot to be said about a cheap b-movie.

Initially, I was very hesitant to pick this one. The full title worried me immensely. But without ruining anything, there is no necrophilia here in the sexual sense. Demented stays true to the story it is trying to tell. There are many films based on Gein’s life, but I’m happy I chose this one. I can’t believe it but I actually was moved by this movie. I recommend it gladly to anyone willing to watch a b-movie with a taste for style, comedy and something truly horrible.