In his own bizarre way, late Wisconsin farmer Ed Gein has probably inspired more unforgettable Hollywood movies than Joan of Arc or Billy the Kid. Never heard of Ed Gein? Well, if you ever saw Alfred Hitchcock's classic 1960 thriller "Psycho," or the 1974 cult slasher, "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," or the 1991 Oscar-winning film, "The Silence of the Lambs," you've already gotten a taste (excuse the pun) of what serial killer-cannibal Gein was really all about. "He has inspired so many iconic films," marveled producer Hamish McAlpine, whose new, unrated psychological thriller, appropriately titled "Ed Gein," opens Friday at the Galaxy in Hollywood. "I think serial killers hold a fascination for all of us." Though other films have patterned their archvillains after Gein, McAlpine points out, none has ever told the true story of Gein, a serial killer-cannibal who preyed on women in rural Wisconsin in the 1950s. "He was a farmer who basically went to pieces when his mother died," McAlpine explained. "He would literally scour the obituary columns of middle-aged women and go out with his pick and shovel and bring them home. It got so bad that in no time flat, he was eating them and making furniture out of them. . . . He then started on his neighbors. He lived in a small town called Plainfield. By the time the second woman had gone missing, you didn't need to be a rocket scientist to figure who was the most likely culprit." McAlpine said the filmmakers made a conscious effort to avoid exploitation. "You don't see him hacking off pieces of flesh or anything disgusting like that," the producer noted. Directed by Chuck Parello ("Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer"), the film stars Steve Railsback (who played Charles Manson in "Helter Skelter") as Gein and Carrie Snodgress as Gein's mother. McAlpine said "Ed Gein" is part of a planned trilogy that he plans to film that includes serial killers Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer. As for Gein, McAlpine said, he has become embedded in America's subculture. "Apparently there are 182 [Internet] Web sites devoted to Ed Gein," he noted. "There is even an Ed Gein fan club. You can buy Ed Gein memorabilia. You can buy a bust of Ed Gein, Ed Gein ashtrays and even Ed Gein calendars."