The 1974 film The Texas Chain Saw Massacre was one of the scariest movies of its time, and the protagonist Leatherface played by Gunnar Hansen will have given many people nightmares for years. The movie took over $30 million at the box office (that’s about $150 million in today’s money, so a huge success in the horror genre!).
What many will not know however is that the Leatherface character is based on a real person, the Ed Gein who in the 1950’s confessed to two murders in Wisconsin but achieved more widespread notoriety after it was discovered that Gein had also dug up bodies from a local graveyard and fashioned trophies and keepsakes out of their skin and bones. Gein was apprehended in 1957, found legally insane, and lived for 27 years in various high-security mental health facilities until dying in 1984 at the age of 77. He was also the inspiration behind other film characters including Buffalo Bill in The Silence of the Lambs and Norman Bates from Psycho.
Ed Gein: The Real Leatherface is a one hour long 2004 Biography channel documentary about the life and crimes of Gein, and his apprehension. It features contributions from residents of Plainfield, his hometown, a Psychiatrist, and two retired reporters who reported on his crimes at the time.