13 Terrifying True Stories Behind Hollywood’s Scariest Horror Movies

Published August 26, 2022
Updated November 15, 2023

Psycho, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Silence of the Lambs

Ed Gein Photo

Ed Gein, the inspiration for Leatherface and Buffalo Bill.

Many horror movies based on true stories have undoubtedly drawn from this demented individual.

Indeed, three of the most iconic and terrifying horror movies based on true stories are all loosely related to one demented murderer: Ed Gein.

Listen above to the History Uncovered podcast, episode 40: Ed Gein, The Butcher Of Plainfield, also available on Apple and Spotify.

Gein’s demented use of human body parts and his unusual relationship with his mother were used as inspiration for Leatherface in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Norman Bates in Psycho, and most of all, Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs.

Gein was known as a shy and strange child, partly due to his mother’s treatment of him and his brother. She often confined them to their farm, read to them from the Bible, and taught them that the world was inherently evil.

His brother died under suspicious circumstances when Gein was 38 and shortly after, his mother passed as well, leaving Gein to turn their farm into the creepy house of horrors that he dreamed of.

When a local hardware store owner went missing, police had enough evidence to search Gein’s home. The carnage that they found shocked everyone.

Some of the graphic things found inside Ed Gein’s home.

Gein became known as the Butcher of Plainfield after police searched his home and found not only the decapitated body of the hardware store owner but a score of human body parts used in various, graphic ways.

There were skulls impaled on the posts of his bed, kitchen utensils made from bones, and household items like chairs and a wastebasket made from human skin. They also found leggings made from human skin, masks made from faces, a belt made out of nipples, a lampshade made from a face, and countless other horrors.

Ed Gein's Skin Chair

Getty ImagesGein’s chair, upholstered in human skin.

Gein admitted to murdering the hardware store owner and to visiting the local graveyard to exhume the bodies to use for his demented experiments. He also revealed his motive behind his crimes.

He said that after his mother died he began to create a “woman suit” so he could become his mother and crawl into her skin.

This is one case where the reality of horror movies based on true stories is undoubtedly scarier than the Hollywood version.

Caroline Redmond
Caroline is a writer living in New York City who holds a Bachelor's in science from the University of Florida. Her work has appeared in People, Yahoo, Bustle, Entertainment Weekly, and The Boston Herald.
John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.