OnePlusYou Quizzes and Widgets


Ed Gein: The Butcher of Plainfield (2007)

I really recommend watching movies without sound. Or, in my case, without a proper soundcard. All the dialogue (or monologue, I can't tell) is the same (like static, only immensely more annoying), and if you turn it off and instead put in your favourite album, you can listen to great music and study people's faces. I swear, you notice much more about the acting that way. MUCH MORE.
*shivers at the thought of Basket Case*

Anyways, I am bored, don't want to work and need to ignore a certain beast that tries to gnaw all flesh off my hands for some reason. Hence I decided to sit through "Ed Gein: The Butcher of Plainfield", together with a few beers and music running.

Alright fiends, there we go.

I originally got this movie because I was intrigued by the prospect of Kane Hodder (of Jason Voorhees fame) playing the American Ghoul.

Kane Hodder really isn't the kind of guy you'd expect to play Ed Gein.
Let's face it, we all know Gein from the pictures, we all know the story of his trial and his psychological background. We have seen him - or one of the figures based on him - portrayed by various other actors, some more talented, some less. But Kane Hodder? Come on, you've got to be joking.

However, Hodder is surprisingly good. In my opinion, it's his portrayal of Gein which really carries this film. He has an outstanding presence in this movie - I was, frankly, amazed.

This Gein is... Let me put it this way: Kane Hodder plays intense. His eyes and hands alone manage to make him creepy - in a silent way. I can't even hear him, but the line of his jaw and his eyes and how he carries himself really convey the character wonderfully.
Seriously, he gets away from the Jason Voorhees stereotype I for one have associated him with ever since... well, Friday the 13th VII (Was it VII? I think so...).

In my opinion, this is the best "Gein" performance I've ever seen. One second, you see his eyes light up and what I suppose to have been a smile when he looks at a picture (supposedly his mother's), and then in a split second this changes to murderous rage that you can literally feel oozing from the screen.

And that is a point that doesn't appear to sit well with a lot of people.
Gein wasn't murderous. Gein wasn't a serial killer. Gein was... well, the North American Ghoul, sadly oppressed by his domineering mother. I could never really get to grips with Gein being listed as a serial killer, but hey, if someone is weird, then of course, just list him as a serial killer. Yes, I am looking at YOU, crimelibrary.com.

Anyways, I enjoyed the movie. If I want to know the true story of Ed Gein, I'm getting a book and a few articles and read those. I already know Gein's story, and I am arrogant enough to assume that I can get a better view of the real-life person by reading what he said in court, by reading the details of what he did than by watching a movie based on him.

And this is exactly what this movie is: It is based on Ed Gein, but it is not a faithful "reproduction" of what happened. I took it as a movie independent of the original, true story, and I guess that is what it is supposed to be. Frankly... "Ed Gein: The Butcher of Plainfield" has a lot going for it - a Gein that is intimidating and has difficulties controlling his impulses, flashbacks... Kane Hodder really creates the character anew.

Purists of historical accuracy may rant and rave that this isn't how Gein was - but did anyone for even a split second assume that Hodder would play the Gein we all know? I didn't. And I wasn't disappointed - this isn't the Ghoul from Plainfield. This is Kane Hodder in a really great role that is based on the actions of said Ghoul from Plainfield. That's why it's called "The Butcher of Plainfield". Note the word "BUTCHER". Long story short, this is, in my opinion, an awesome character.

Well, what else? I really enjoyed the inside of Gein's (or should I say "Hodder's"?) house. It was slightly oppressive, as if the presence of his dead mother was still lingering there. The lighting and choice of colours was also very good, I thoroughly enjoyed how these elements were subtly used to differentiate between the colourful, nice world of the small town Plainfield and the dimly lit world of Ed. The scenes set at the cemetary also look atmospheric.
Camera and editing also were enjoyable, I was especially fond of the camerawork. And by that I mean that I have at least one page worth of notes pertaining to it. However, I will spare you the details.

Another thing that I really enjoyed about this movie were the props. It looks very much like 1957 USA. I know, it should be normal that movies set in a different time should have appropriate equipment and props, but all too often, that just doesn't happen. As of this first watching, I could spot no inconsistencies.

Also, just one word: Woman Suit. Damn, that was two words... well, occasionally I am allowed such slips of the tongue. Or keyboard, whatever.
Anyways, I never thought I would actually enjoy seeing a Woman Suit. Needless to say, I did enjoy it. A lot.

That is pretty much the positive things I have to say about "Ed Gein: The Butcher of Plainfield".

The problems?

The gore. There is hardly any. I don't know if that is just my personal problem, but... I would have wished for more. Especially since the movie starts with a good pacing - 17 minutes into the film, we already had a woman hanging on a Gein Configuration (*drools*), graverobbing, two short glances (very tasteful, in my opinion!) of Gein's decorating skills, and one short-lived sidekick being hit repeatedly with a shovel and tied to a car (3 minutes later, the short-lived sidekick is a pleasantly bloody sidekick). I was positively excited and, of course, wished for more. Waited for more.

Once, we get treated to a bit more blood (after all, you have to prepare the human body before you can properly skin it), nicely done, but... it's not a lot. And, frankly, this movie could easily have done with more. The R rating could easily have been reached with a bit more. Not that I would ever agree with the MPAA on anything...

The blood looks more realistic than I am used to with the horror movies I usually watch. It looks satisfying enough, but could be a tad darker and... well. Dried blood does NOT look like syrup with red food colouring. Point. However, it could have been worse. Much worse. So, I'm not going to bitch about that.

However, I will bitch about the actors besides Hodder.

As I already mentioned, his performance is what really makes this movie (or rather the first half of it, but more on that later) a small gem. Wherever they got that blonde ...creature (Adrienne Frantz) and the annoying woman (Priscilla Barnes) from, they should have given them back. Maybe it was intention to make those two as artificial and terrible as possible, but damn, if it was, they did a wonderful job and easily outshone Hodder.

Let me dwell on Priscilla Barnes only for a moment. Her grin/smile made me sick, and the only thing I remembered her for was playing the equally annoying woman in "The Devil's Rejects".

Adrienne Frantz, however... Well, she is actually pretty. As long as she keeps her mouth shut, doesn't talk, doesn't smile, doesn't laugh or ANYTHING. She reminds me of that dumbass blonde Billie Piper which played the Doctor's companion in the 2005 and 2006 series of "Doctor Who". Whom I regularly wanted to slaughter in painful ways (Piper, not the Dr).
Miss Frantz evokes the same feelings in me. Let me give you the possibiliy to read some of my original notes:

"The blonde grinning girl that makes me want to skin her alive is terrible.
19 minutes, and I already want to kill her. AGAIN. Possibly the only annoying person in the cast. Yet.
41 minutes, and I once again want to rip her face off. Yepp, definitely. Repeatedly. With a spoon.
47 minutes: Cut open her face. Please, movie, cut open her face, remove her lips. She's better off as a fleshless skull anyways.
51 minutes: Those teeth.... they really need to be smashed out of her terrible, terrible mouth.
55 minutes: Annoying Blondie should be unconscious and bruised more often, makes her look good. Please die, bitch. NOW. Pleeeaaaase... or, even better, become part of the Woman Suit."

Maybe it's because I'm sober, but holy crap, that face annoyed me to no end. Seriously. A lot.

Well, now here we come to the point that makes the movie that began so promisingly into... uhm... a slow movie without Kane Hodder.

The movie is 1:25:30 long (at least that's where the credits start rolling). Any action and gore and actual storyline that started the very second the movie did is... gone? Forgotten? I don't know where it is, but it's not on the screen. After the 55th minute. We get treated to one (1) little bit of light gore that lasts for only a few seconds, and... well. That's it. No more Ed Gein/Kane Hodder for us anymore. What do we get instead?


A bunch of policemen running around, looking at each other, holding rousing speeches, driving cars, talking to other people, talking to each other... oh, and did I forget Emo Policeman? He's supposed to be our hero.

In short - there are too many policemen around. As mentioned above, I can't hear anything at the moment, so the interesting dialogues are lost on me. But holy crap, not even dialogues can make scenes like what we are forced to watch any more interesting. Yes, we got it that Emo Policeman is sad. Thank you movie, you can show us something else than the same guy talking to the same thing for 2 minutes. Thank you. CUT, DAMN IT!

85 minutes long, and you start getting bored after the 55th minute. That. Is. Not. Good. Especially since, at least in my experience, people who watch serial killer movies (or Ed Gein movies) usually know what happened and happens. So... when you call a movie "Ed Gein: The Butcher of Plainfield", you have only so many possibilities to end it. And we all know how it ended. Dragging that out for an eternity is not what should have been done.

This movie could easily have been about 20 minutes shorter. Michael Feifer could just have cut out most of the police-scenes (seriously... about 40 minutes are nothing but POLICE RUNNING AROUND!), cut out some of the monologues/dialogues and close-ups of policemen (I can't imagine that they add ANYTHING to the plot), added a bit more gore. Also, he could have given us more of More Kane Hodder, he's suspiciously absent after the 55th minute...
Less policemen would have been better. And more details of the inside of Gein's house - this way, we only can let our imagination run wild with the... four? five? times in which you see a short, fleeting glance at the interior.

Let me end this review with two things I wrote down during one particular scene:

"Hodder: Looks threatening with a shovel."

"Hodder: IS threatening with a shovel!"

6/10 because of Kane Hodder giving an intense performance. And JUST because of him.

Update after getting a soundcard (the 3rd this year):

I hate the voice of the blonde cunt. I hate her stupid words - "you always have my heart!", and her fucking giggling makes me want to hurt her badly.

Hodder's voice carries the subtle threat of a deranged psycho who is willing to use violence, even when speaking a simple sentence. THe graveyard scene is ...amazing.

And the flashbacks are intense... creepy and intense. The sound REALLY adds to them.

Still, the rating remains the same. I'm sorry, Mr. Hodder, not even your performance could make me ignore the second movie within this film - "CSI: Plainfield".

I would actually lower the rating after watching it with the abysmal dialogues that dominate every scene that does not feature Hodder. I only keep the original 6/10 because I admire his performance. The rest.... do yourself a favour and stop watching at about minute 55 - if you can make it till there.

It could have been a gem.

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