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Edward Gein: Horror Has a Face

First, I want to warn everyone that this article may not be safe for work (or even safe for life). Edward Gein was one of the creepiest, craziest, and most deranged individuals to have ever lived, and he is the core inspiration for countless horror characters, films, books, and plays.

Characters inspired by Edward Gein:

  • Norman Bates (Psycho)
  • Leatherface (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre)
  • Buffalo Bill (The Silence of the Lambs)


Who is Edward Gein?

Edward Gein was an American murderer and body snatcher. He would sneak into gravesites and exhume corpses, bringing their remains back to his humble abode. With these remains, he would fashion clothing, furniture, and other knickknacks. When investigated, Gein admitted to making as many as 40 trips to three local graveyards near his house, yet he claimed to be in a daze-like state during most of those trips.

Edward Gein
Edward Gein.

Similarity to Norman Bates:

  • Similar to the character seen in Psycho, Gein had an odd fascination with corpses that resembled his mother, and he would only exhume the graves of recently buried middle-aged women.
  • When Geins mother died, Gein remained in the house, yet he boarded up most of the rooms used by his mother. He lived in a small room next to the kitchen.
Norman Bates
Norman Bates.

Similarity to Leatherface:

  • Leatherfaces name stems from his masks crafted from human skin. When the police finally raided Geins house, they found nine masks of human skin, among other paraphernalia crafted from human remains.
  • In the original film depicting Leatherface, he wore three different masks, with each one representing a different personality. Edward Gein claimed that his fascination of masks fashioned from human skin came from his struggle with his sexuality and his personality.

Similarity to Buffalo Bill:

  • If you have seen The Silence of the Lambs, you understand the creepiness of Buffalo Bill, and you may also remember his infamous dress fashioned from human skin. Yup, that’s not just a fictionalized creation of someones morbid mind. An incomplete skin dress was found in Edward Geins house. If that doesn’t make your skin crawl, you have nerves of steel.
Buffalo Bill
Buffalo Bill.