This is also the name of a movie. Ed Gein (2000, rated R) is an account of the serial killer's life, starring Steve Railsback in the titular role. Carrie Snodgress plays Augusta, Ed's domineering and fanatical mother. The movie tries to remain faithful to the known facts of the case, and also tries to portray Ed as a complete human being. The director (Chuck Parello) resists the urge to turn this into a typical splatter film, instead focusing on what's going on in Ed's mind. There are only a few gruesome visuals, but this doesn't lessen the impact of the movie. The actors turn in good performances, and the movie is very well done technically.
According to The Internet Movie Database, this movie has also been called Under The Moonlight and In the Light of the Moon.
The movie does diverge from the known facts in some cases, and it also (necessarily) engages in some speculation and assumption. Almost all of these divergences are insignificant. If you don't want to know any spoiler information about the movie, you'd better stop reading.
- In actual fact, Ed was suspected of killing his brother Henry while fighting a brush fire. In the movie he is shown to definitely have killed Henry. He kills him when they are on a hunting trip, after Henry has some unkind things to say about their mother. There is a strange vision of a fire that you are shown, which may be intended to tie this in to the actual brush fire, but it isn't made clear. The fiery vision surrounds Henry, but does not actually touch him, which is consistent with the actual events. Evidently Henry's body was found without any burns on it, on an unburned piece of earth, and had bruises on his head. The movie does not depict how Ed got away with the crime, nor the discovery of the body. The next scene is at his brother's funeral. No indication is given in the movie that he was suspected of this crime.
- In the movie, Ed boarded up his mother's room at his farmhouse. In reality, he boarded up many rooms that she had liked to use, and preserved them in the same condition they had been in when Augusta was alive. Specifically, the parlor and living room were supposed to have been preserved in this manner. You are shown rooms in the movie that appear to be a parlor and living room, and they are kept in squalor like the rest of the house (other than her bedroom).
- In the movie, some children Ed was babysitting at his farmhouse stumbled across human remains in his bedroom. He explains them away as artifacts from the South Seas, such as shrunken heads. He quickly ushers them from the house. In reality, he was said to have shown these items to the children (rather than them stumbling across them). Evidently these children mentioned this to other adults, but the stories were not believed. In the movie, the kids aren't shown telling anyone.
- In reality, two young men later happened to see the preserved heads of some women at Ed's farmhouse, but allegedly thought they were Halloween props of some kind. The movie does not document any such event.
- In reality, there were several unexplained disappearances before Mary Hogan (a barkeep) disappeared (killed and taken to Ed's farmhouse). In the movie, other than grave robbings, the person you see Ed kill as an adult is Mary. This may reflect the fact that Mary was one of the only two people whose murder the police were able to charge Ed with, due to lack of hard evidence.
- In the movie, Ed shoots Mary at her bar, but does not kill her, and then brings her home. She is chained to his bed for an unspecified amount of time (it appears to be a few days) before he finds her dead one morning. In actual fact, as far as I can tell, there is no indication that she even lived to make it back to his farmhouse.
- In the movie, Frank Worden discovers the headless body of his mother in the basement of the farmhouse. In fact, she was found by him in the woodshed.