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Home > Psycho: The Lost Tapes of Ed Gein (2023): A Review

Psycho: The Lost Tapes of Ed Gein (2023): A Review

Psycho: The Lost Tapes of Ed Gein (2023): A Review

A Deep Dive Into the Mind of a Troubled Man

What do classic horror films like Psycho and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre have in common with newer classic horror films such as Silence of the Lambs, House of 1000 Corpses, and The Devil’s Rejects? The terrifying actions of Ed Gein inspired these films and so many more. Very few killers in history have been the inspiration for such nightmares. MGM+ has now released a four-part documentary discussing Ed Gein and his effect on society, community, and culture called Psycho: The Lost Tapes of Ed Gein. This documentary is a much deeper dive into the life and history of this troubled man, along with never-before-heard tapes, including commentary from experts, historians, and community members who knew Gein. The docuseries, directed by James Buddy Day, is also known for Catching a Serial Killer: Bruce McArthur (2021) and The Shocking Truth (2017) series. Also, Day served as executive producer. Released September 17, 2023, Pyramid Productions and Roots Productions produced it. 

A Never-Before-Seen Look at Ed Gein

Psycho: The Lost Tapes of Ed Gein starts by discussing the interview on the lost tapes. The interview occurred right after Bernice Worden, the second woman Gein killed, went missing. It’s a story of abuse, loneliness, sadness, and insanity. As the police question Gein, he answers questions with indecisive answers and little emotion. His answers are more like a child’s, and it is obvious that his simple mind knows he’s been found out. He had what the doctors called malingered amnesia. This type of amnesia is feigning loss of memory of crimes the perpetrator has committed. His answers were full of claims that he didn’t remember, or the memories were fuzzy. Ed Gein’s life eventually ended after spending years going from one insane asylum to another. He never caused any problems whatsoever in these hospitals. So, the question is, how could this have happened? Was he just insane and bored? Or was he just insane and lonely? 

Special guests like The Last Podcast on the Left discuss how this tall tale has impacted American culture. Gein’s mother, Augusta Gein, was a very strict Lutherine. Gein was not close to his brother or father, so his whole emotional life (and every other part) was affected by his mother. She spent a lot of time teaching the kids about the Bible’s more severe commands and enforcing suffocating rules on them that bordered on abuse. He was so close to Augusta that people have always wondered how far the abuse went. Throughout, the series increasingly studies Psycho and how it and films like it have formed the horror genre and impacted society. Much of the fourth episode discusses more films inspired by Gein. 

Ed Gein historian and author Scott Bowser gives a tour of the cemetery in Plainfield, Wisconsin. New information among astounding secrets appears throughout each chapter. Secrets of cannibalism, and is that deer or human flesh? Everyone thought he was an ordinary guy, albeit odd, but harmless. He was having dinner with his neighbors at the same time as cops were searching his house. How did all this happen? The plot is coherent, and although it does jump here and there, there is enough connection to make sense. The setting and atmosphere were often cold, snowy, or black and white, matching the feelings the stories provoked.

Psycho: The Lost Tapes of Ed Gein (2023): A Review

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The Eye-Opening Cinematography is Everything

The cinematography used pictures and videos from the fifties to describe the culture of the community and country. The visuals fit perfectly with the grainy, aged recordings. Segments with historians, experts, and podcasters move to scenes with lots of browns and natural wood colors to provide a professional, expert quality to match the people interviewed. At this point, it’s probably difficult to have a ton of footage of Ed Gein and his life, but it would have been great to see more footage or images of him and his family. The cinematography included using different black-and-white pictures of Ed Gein as he was between courthouses and jails. It helped to hammer home the creepiness and seriousness of what he did. There was an interesting picture of a woman who was thought to be Ed Gein’s mother, where she was smiling. That picture was especially bone-chilling, as you don’t often see portraits of people of that time smiling. Her smile appeared warm, when the known information about her was not warm. There isn’t a lot of variety of images.

Interestingly, sometimes the docuseries felt like the documentary of a 90’s rock band. It was occasionally fast-moving scenes, and with the focus on popular films, it couldn’t hide the vibe. However, the information contained within was much more serious. What was captured best in this film is the psychology of Gein at the time. 

What You Should Know About Ed Gein

Overall, Psycho: The Lost Tapes of Ed Gein is an eye-opening film that blows up Gein’s story like a bomb. Ed Gein will always be an enigma, but there is so much more to understand now. For fans of true crime, serial killer documentaries, or horror films like Psycho, this film is a must-see. 

Stream Psycho: The Lost Tapes of Ed Gein, premiering September 17, 2023 on MGM+.

Psycho: The Lost Tapes of Ed Gein (2023): A Review

Psycho: The Lost Tapes of Ed Gein (2023) Official MGM+ Trailer

Source: Dead Talk Live

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Elke Simmons' writing portfolio includes contributions to The Laredo Morning Times, Walt Disney World Eyes and Ears, Extinction Rebellion (XR) News/Blog, and Dead Talk News.

Cailen Fienemann is a current student at Le Moyne College pursuing her BA in English and Communications with a film studies minor and a creative writing concentration.  Though uncertain about her career end-goals, any job that allows her to write is a cherished one indeed.