Ed Gein: The Butcher of Plainfield
Starring Kane Hodder
Notorious serial killer Ed Gein has inspired many films since his reign of terror in the 1950’s; The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Psycho being the most obvious. Ed Gein was a man who had a strange relationship with his mother (keeping and talking to her corpse as if she were still alive). He dug up decaying bodies, had sex with them and then mutilated the remains. Then moving on to fresh meat, he often made trinkets from the body parts of his victims and even wore a top made from the skin of one lady’s torso. So could Michael Feifer’s 2007 film ED GEIN THE BUTCHER OF PLAINFIELD really capture the true evil of this sadistic and sick individual? I felt not. The film was not bad as a standalone offering but I don’t believe it ever showed us the real complexities of Ed Gein‘s character.
There are many things I liked about The Butcher of Plainfield; Kane Hodder, although bearing no physical resemblance to the real Ed Gein, pulls off the role of psychopath very convincingly.
The film looks good and I have no problems with the direction, lighting etc. There are also many things I don’t like; the sound effects and music score are too loud in places and often impede the dialogue. The story puts too much emphasis on rookie cop Bobby Mason (Shawn Hoffman) instead of concentrating on Ed Gein. Although we do get some understanding of the kind of crimes Gein committed, as a horror fan I wanted to live the fear of his victims and be sickened by his actions. There are moments of real nastiness, but for me they are too few and far between.
Ed Gein was a sick, sick individual and if you’re going to make a film about his crimes then that has to be conveyed in all of its stomach churning detail. The Butcher of Plainfield spends too long building the characters of Bobby and his girlfriend Erica (Adrienne Frantz). I know that we need to care about them but remember the name of the film? Ed Gein - and that’s who we want to see with most screen time. If this film had been called anything else, with no connection to Gein, I would have declared it to be an average horror worthy of a watch and I guess that is how it should be judged. I cannot help however, being disappointed in it. I wanted to relive the life and crimes and get inside the head of this madman and I didn’t feel that this was achieved.
What a shame, yet another horror film that could have been…but wasn’t!