Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Ed Gein ... the musical?

By Ron Franscell

Ed Gein wasn't your ordinary grave-robbing, corpse-grinding, necrophiliac, cannibalistic, would-be serial killer. He could carry a snappy tune, too!

You might recall Eddie. In the late 1950s, cops investigating a local murder in Plainfield, Wis., stumbled upon a startlingly grotesque scene in Gein's farmhouse. Yes, they found their murder victim dressed out like a dead deer, but that was the easy part. They also found a mask made from the face-skin of another local woman; human skulls made into bedposts and soup bowls; four disembodied noses; socks, lampshades and baskets made of human skin; shrunken heads; a box of female genitals; and a belt made from nipples.

In a surprise verdict, Eddie was judged insane. Go figure. He died in 1984 in a Wisconsin insane asylum.

But like all good freaks, Eddie isn't really dead. He lives -- nay, thrives -- in our cultural consciousness. In both books and film, he was the inspiration for Norman Bates in "Psycho" and for Jamie Gumb in "Silence of the Lambs." His affinity for human-face masks was even aped by Leatherface in "Texas Chainsaw Massacre."

Now, Eddie will be the main character in "Ed Gein, The Musical," an indie film by Appleton-based DaviesRussell. It's being shot in Omro, Wis., because the citizens of Plainfield simply weren't interested. Go figure.

Co-producer Dan Davies says his movie will be historically accurate ... but will also feature lots of comedy and "plenty of great music." Oh yeah! Broadway-style show tunes with stirring lyrics like "I'm in love ... she's all cooked up!" and "I truly love you ... you smell of formaldehyde."

Ed must have some strange power over musical minds. Former Marilyn Manson bassist Gidget Gein took his name from Eddie. And there's also a grindcore band called "Ed Gein." Consider their 2003 album, "It's a Shame a Family Can Be Torn Apart by Something as Simple as a Pack of Wild Dogs," featuring the hit single, "The Marlboro Man is a Douche Bag."

Somewhere down deep inside where only God and Eddie Gein have explored, I want to be offended by this, but I just can't. If we can celebrate Sweeney Todd and John Dillinger, then Eddie deserves his screen time, too. In fact, I've got this tune stuck in my head:

Her hands are tasty and her knees are sweet
her pituitary gland is a tasty treat.
Who do you turn to when you need to sup?
... I'm in love ...
she's all cooked up


You can now follow Ron Franscell, author of THE DARKEST NIGHT, at Facebook and Twitter. He is now working on his next book, an exploration of mass-murder survivors' experiences -- without music.


Jim Thomsen said...

Can't be any worse than "Backdraft: The Musical" from "Waiting For Guffman." And, of course, the play that started the craze ... "Springtime For Hitler."

Jim Thomsen

Jill said...

And I thought "Rocky Horror..." was weird.