When the sheriff of Plainfield, Wisconsin, entered the farm of Ed Gein in 1957, he found the assorted remains of 15 women. Their body parts had been turned into makeshift furniture and clothing, and one of the nine salted vulvas that Ed kept in a shoebox belonged to his overbearing mom, painted silver to mark it out.
Unlike those pulsing thrillseekers Psycho, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and The Silence Of The Lambs - - all of which draw loosely on Gein's crimes - - Chuck Parello's movie attempts to reveal the grubby mundanity beneath the sensation. Few liberties are taken with the facts, and much of the screen time is spent merely watching Ed (Steve Railsback) as he shuffles about his hick town, eating tins of beans `n' sausages and supping beer.
And yet this dirt-under-the-fingernails biopic is betrayed by sudden intrusions of `style' - - unnatural camera angles, tinted colours - - and blurts of unintentionally amusing dialogue, rendering it almost entirely ineffective. Avoid.