Ed Gein: The Butcher of Plainfield

Ed Gein: The Butcher of Plainfield is yet another horror film based on real life serial killer Ed Gein. It is also terribly acted, badly made and extremely dull.

Kane Hodder as Ed Gein

The real Ed Gein was arrested in 1957 after a series of gruesome discoveries on his farm including a skin suit and several other body parts. He has provided the inspiration for a number of horror films over the years from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre to Silence of the Lambs. This film dramatises the events leading up to his death and changes several details arbitrarily.

The action cuts between young deputy Bobby Mason (or deputy dipshit as I like to call him) and Ed Gein as he goes about his grave robbing and homicidal business. Bobby finds an abandoned car with blood spattered on one of the side windows and raises the alarm. Meanwhile Gein is robbing graves and murdering his friend Jack. While the police do nothing about the abandoned car Gein ramps up his murderous behaviour and a local woman who works in the saloon goes missing closely followed by deputy dipshit's mother.

Eventually the police get a lead when an eyewitness comes forward claiming he saw a woman's foot sticking out the back of Ed's truck. As Bobby learns of his mother's disappearance and rushes back to town he manages to crash his car and then leave his girlfriend alone by the side of the road. Gein bizarrely finds her and takes her away and everything finally unwinds as the entire Plainfield police force (which is about five men) descend on Gein's farm to arrest him and find some disturbing evidence.

Michael Feifer is the man who wrote and directed this. The side story he has constructed is ham fistedly wedged on top of the facts in a grating fashion, he even contrives to have Ed kidnap the daughter of the sheriff who is also the girlfriend of deputy dipshit. The direction is flat and lifeless and everything has that made for TV feel to it. The pace is irritatingly slow and there is little to encourage any emotional investment in any of the characters.

The biggest surprise of the film is Kane Hodder as Ed Gein who turns in a decent performance here and certainly gets marks for trying. Hodder used to play Jason Vorhees so he has big lumbering psycho body language sussed, this is the first speaking part I've seen him in and he manages to bring some human quality to this much maligned madman while remaining deeply scary.

The rest of the cast are unspeakably awful. Shawn Hoffman plays deputy dipshit and for some reason has decided to play the part in slow motion, like brain death is imminent. Adrienne Frantz is the dumb blonde girlfriend and of course Michael Berryman has to pop up as the unfortunate pal Jack, you'll remember Berryman from The Hills Have Eyes amongst others.

The film is thoroughly predictable and the slow pace coupled with the badly acted and appalling dialogue are enough to induce sleep despite it only lasting the horror standard of 90 minutes. The only thing that keeps you awake are the demented actions of Gein as he saws off limbs and dresses up in skin. The thing is these details have been referenced over and over again in horror films over the years. You have to ask yourself do we really need another film about Ed Gein? The obvious answer based on this showing is a resounding no.


Reviewed by Simon Hill

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