Ed Gein: The Gruesome True Story that Inspired The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Have you ever wondered about the events that inspired The Texas Chainsaw Massacre movies? Here's the Texas Chainsaw Massacre true story and everything you need to know about it. Updated: 7/10/17.


texas chainsaw massacre true story 

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre True Story

The real-life model for terrifying horror movie psychos like Leatherface, Buffalo Bill, and Norman Bates was a man named Ed Gein, whose actual exploits were even more shocking than the movie plots they inspired. Who was this man and what did he do that made so many filmmakers fictionalize his story over the years? Read on, if you dare…


texas chainsaw massacre real story - Ed Gein

Edward Theodore Gein was born in a small Wisconsin farming community in the early 1900s, and is one of the most notorious serial killers from Wisconsin. Gein’s mother Augusta was a controlling, domineering, and deeply religious woman who isolated Ed and taught him that women were evil. The two lived alone after the deaths of Ed’s father and brother. After her death, Ed began to act on his morbid fascination with the female body.


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He studied anatomy texts and accounts of the terrible experiments performed by the Nazis in concentration camps. He then moved on to grave robbing…digging up recently buried female corpses from nearby cemeteries. He chose the bodies of women who were roughly the age of his mother at the time of her death. He dissected the bodies, keeping the sexual organs and making “suits” out of the skins (the inspiration for Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs).


the texas chainsaw massacre real story of ed gein

At some point he moved on from grave robbing to murder, choosing middle aged women similar to his mother as his victims. The reclusive Gein’s presence in town was connected to the disappearance of one local woman, and when authorities went to his isolated farmhouse, they discovered a true house of horrors. The farmhouse was filled with Ed’s ghastly souvenirs. Here are some Ed Gein crime scene photos of his house.


Ed Gein and the chainsaw massacre real story

Among the discoveries: a decapitated and gutted female body hung upside down in the kitchen (the most recent victim); bowls made out of skulls; lampshades, chair upholstery, and a wastebasket made from human skin; nine skinned faces of women hanging on the bedroom wall; a belt made of nipples; skulls on the bed posts; leggings and a corset made from skin; and a box full of female private parts. This is only a partial list.


texas chainsaw massacre story - human flesh

The remains of at least 15 female bodies were found at the house. Gein told authorities he enjoyed dressing in the female skins and masks and pretending he was his mother. He spent 10 years in a mental hospital until he was declared fit to stand trial. He was found guilty of murder…and also criminally insane. He spent the rest of his life in two different mental institutions, dying at the age of 77 in 1984.


is the texas chainsaw massacre a true story

Gein’s disturbing legacy lives on in famous movies like Psycho, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and The Silence of the Lambs, as well as Deranged, Three on a Meathook, Motel Hell, Maniac, Ed Gein: The Butcher of Plainfield, and Ed and His Dead Mother (a dark comedy with Steve Buscemi).

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