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Ed Gein: Psycho! Paperback – 1 Sep 2001
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|Paperback, 1 Sep 2001||
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"...he's right: it's a sick world, getting sicker... Paul Anthony Woods is a good researcher, and should be applauded for his nerve." -- Dr Steven Carver, from the University of East Anglia, Norwich, England
The life of Edward Gein is a dark legend. When the police raided his mid-western American farmhouse in November 1957, they found a gruesome cache that roused the Eisenhower era from its slumbers. Furniture constructed from human body parts, masks made from real faces - even a 'skin-suit' sewn together using the remains of deceased women. The madman had created a macabre private world from the depths of his imagination. Obsessed with his religious fanatic mother, the anatomy of women who reminded him of her, and the fundamentals of death itself, he graduated from grave robbery to murder. In a short time, he also entered modern folklore. In more than four decades since Gein was locked away in a mental institution, his story has bled its way into popular culture: Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960) based the mother-fixated Norman Bates on the oedipal Gein; The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) replicated the nightmare world of his isolated farmhouse; The Silence of the Lambs (1991) featured a grotesque 'skin transvestite' based on Gein. Summer 2001 now sees the UK release of Ed Gein - the first time filmmakers have dared tell the story without a leavening of fiction. Ed Gein - Psycho! is a cult favourite, re-telling Gein's story in the style of the pulp fiction that his case inspired.Selling over 25,000 copies in the USA, it has been updated for a UK edition which includes an illustrated analysis of Ed Gein (2001). With 50 illustrations, ranging from shots of Gein's arrest and personal documentation through to stills from the new film, the book is an exhaustive trawl through the crime case that became ingrained in popular legend.
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"Ed Gein--Psycho!" does document the crimes Gein, though much of the material is apocryphal, but the book is as much a study of the fascination with and even worship of Gein. A significant portion of the book is devoted to the films mentioned above and to the merchandise that seeks to capitalize on the Gein notoriety. Unfortunately, what could be an insightful sociological study is instead a rather insipid and sometimes uncomfortably close to admiring look at the killer and the phenomenon that is the interest in him. For readers who are squeamish, the full-page photo of the eviscerated body of one of Gein's victims should be most uncomfortable. Even for those who are not so squeamish, it becomes necessary to question the degree to which this book further exploits the victims while canonizing their killer.
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