2. Buffalo Bill, Leatherface & Norman Bates

What exactly do these iconic movie villains have in common, I hear you ask? Severe mother issues and an obsession with brutal murder and/or using human remains for masks, meat or clothing is what ties the three together, mostly. That, and that they were all inspired, in varying degrees, by real life murderer Ed Gein.

Also known by such lovely monikers as “the Butcher of Plainfield” and “the Plainfield Ghoul”, Gein is only considered responsible for two murders – far less than the body counts of the characters he inspired – but what makes Gein most interesting is his other extracurricular activities.

When the authorities searched Gein’s house, it became apparent that he enjoyed using human remains for decoration. Inside his home they found human bones littered around and human skulls on his bedposts, as well as bowls made from skulls. Gein had used human skin to fashion a wastebasket and a lampshade, as well as to cover the seats of numerous chairs. He had also fashioned a corset out of a female torso and a belt from human nipples. Gein admitted that he had spent approximately five years exhuming recently buried bodies in order to use them to create his paraphernalia.

It’s not hard to see why a man as frighteningly deranged as Gein would inspire numerous cinematic murderers, as his crimes were both stomach-churningly evil and utterly unique. Different aspects of his personality and crimes were incorporated into each character – his desire to be literally inside the skin of another person inspired Buffalo Bill, his creation of human “masks” using actual faces inspired Leatherface, and his murderous obsession with his own mother inspired Norman Bates.