WARNING: The following post contains slightly graphic content. Proceed with caution if you are squeamish.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre is known as one of the most iconic films of all time. When the first film hit theaters in 1974 and it made almost $31 million dollars on a $140,000 thousand budget. Since then the film series has grossed over $235 million worldwide, and has even inspired video games and comics. The story line in the films mainly focuses on Leatherface and his psychopathic family, which leads many people to believe it is based on a true story. They wouldn’t be entirely wrong, although not everything that happens in the films is true, as they are only loosely based off real events.
Ed Gein was born on August 27, 1906 in La Crosse, Wisconsin and died on July 26, 1984 of lung cancer. Growing up, his mother Augusta was controlling and a very religious woman who isolated Ed and would tell him that all women were evil. He also suffered psychological and physical abuse from his parents. Classmates remember that one of Ed’s most unnerving habits was to randomly laugh out loud as though someone had told a joke that only he could hear.
It wasn’t until his mother passed away that Ed suddenly started to act on his morbid fascination with the female body. He started to study anatomy texts and accounts of the terrible experiments performed at concentration camps before eventually moving on to grave robbing. He would dig up female bodies who were buried recently in cemeteries near him, always choosing ones that were roughly the age of his mother when she passed. He would dissect their bodies and keep their sexual organs so he could make suits out of the skins.
In the Texas Chainsaw Massacre movies the character, Leatherface wore a mask out of human skin. Ed also wore the same mask but for different reasons than Leatherface, who wore it due to a skin disease. Ed Gein actually wore the mask because he desired to be a woman as well as a vest of skin complete with breasts and female private parts that he strapped above his own.
While Leatherface is definitely the most well-known fictional serial killer that was inspired by Ed, he has also inspired a few others such as Norman Bates from Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 movie Psycho, and Buffalo Bill from the 1991 film The Silence of the Lambs. Leatherface, however, would be the most accurate portrayal of the original man, Ed Gein.
For more information on Leatherface, the Texas Chainsaw franchise and/or Ed Gein, check out these links:
Or, checkout this video for even more information:
Kaitlin is in her second year of the Professional Writing program at Algonquin. She has a deep love for all things horror, paranormal, and is also a huge fan of slasher films. If these things interest you, follow Kaitlin’s blog posts!