From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Edward Theodore "Ed" Gein (August 27, 1906 – July 26, 1984) was an American murderer and body snatcher. His crimes, committed around his hometown of Plainfield, Wisconsin, gathered widespread notoriety after authorities discovered Gein had exhumed corpses from local graveyards and fashioned trophies and keepsakes from their bones and skin. Gein confessed to killing two women – tavern owner Mary Hogan on December 8, 1954, and a Plainfield hardware store owner, Bernice Worden, on November 16, 1957. Initially found unfit for trial, after confinement in a mental health facility he was tried in 1968 for the murder of Worden and sentenced to life imprisonment, which he spent in a mental hospital.
His case influenced the creation of several fictional killers, including Norman Bates of the movie and novel Psycho and its sequels, Leatherface of the movie The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Jame Gumb of the novel The Silence of the Lambs, and Bloody Face of the TV show American Horror Story: Asylum.
The story of Ed Gein has had a lasting effect on Western popular culture as evidenced by its numerous appearances in movies, music and literature. Gein's story was adapted into a number of movies, including Deranged (1974), In the Light of the Moon (2000) released in the U.S. as Ed Gein (2001), Ed Gein: The Butcher of Plainfield (2007) and Hitchcock (2012). Gein served as a model for several book and movie characters, most notably such fictional serial killers as Norman Bates (Psycho), Leatherface (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre), Jame Gumb (The Silence of the Lambs), and Bloody Face ("American Horror Story: Asylum").
At the time, the news reports of Gein's crimes spawned a subgenre of "black humor". Since the 1950s, Gein has frequently been exploited by transgressive art or "shock rock", often without association with his life or crimes beyond the shock value of his name. Examples of this include the song titled "Dead Skin Mask" from the band Slayer's album Seasons in the Abyss or "Nothing To Gein" from Mudvayne's album L.D. 50. Ed Gein: The Musical premiered on January 2, 2010 in Menasha, Wisconsin. Ed Gein's atrocities were also satirized in Blind Melon's "Skinned" off the 1995 album Soup which juxtapozed cheery instrumentation with semi-factual representations of Gein's crimes; arguably towards a comedic end.