Digging Up The Facts
An Interview With Kevin Klemm Of The Ed Gein Collection
By Rick Whitlow
"At The Ed Gein Collection, we rob graves so you don't have to." That's the motto for Kevin Klemm's
company, "The Ed Gein Collection". Kevin builds life size corpses, skull candles and other unique
horror collectibles that would make any demented Halloween enthusiast happy. Appropriately named
after the twisted serial killer of the 1950's. Kevin is far from a psycho, but
his work retains
that twisted, "freshly dug up" look. Are the corpses real? You'll have to find that out for yourself.
In this issue, I had a chance to talk with Kevin about his company, "The Ed Gein Collection".
Read on and you'll get some insight into the man behind the corpses, as he talks about his
beginnings, the recent tragic events that have occured in our country, as well as current and
HauntSearch: How many years have you been creating life-size corpse props? Kevin Klemm: This is probably my
third year. The last two years I've been making them for sale. Before
that I was making them for my own Halloween yard haunt.
HS: So how did the name "The Ed Gein Collection" for your company come about?
KK: Well, that started out as a
sort of tongue-in-cheek joke. I was selling some of my skull bowls to a
dark art store here in L.A., and needed a name for my business. I
suddenly thought of ol' Eddie Gein because I read some where that he
made some soup bowls of out of skulls..... and hence the name. HS: How twisted (laughs) KK: Yeah, people seem to remember it (smiles)
HS: What do you make your corpses out of? KK: I start out with a medical
skeleton as my base and then build up from there using liquid latex and
other items for skin. I also add eyes to some and top it off with real
hair that I've saved from the household hair brushes. I worked for a
number of years on some low budget horror films and learned quite a few
tricks from the special effects guys.
HS: Real hair from the household hairbrushes? KK: Yeah, it sounds sick, but nothing looks and lays like real hair. My wife is
always rolling her eyes when she sees me collecting hair. I almost
ran into a problem with the police who found one of my corpses and
thought it was the real deal. If they had run DNA samples on the hair,
the corpse would have come back as me.
HS: That would have been funny to see the look on their faces had they done the DNA test
KK: I know, I would have loved it.
HS: You mentioned that you had worked on some low budget horror films. Would you like to share which films you have worked on?
KK: When I lived in Baltimore I
worked on a variety of films directed by Don Dohler. He's the guy who
made "The Alien Factor". I worked on "Galaxy Invader" and "Blood
Massacre" for him. Nothing that hit the
movie theatres. But it's funny, I was just in the Virgin Megastore and
saw a copy of "Galaxy Invader" on the shelf. I haven't seen that in
probably 15 years or so.
HS: I'll bet that brought back memories. Seeing a movie you worked on at a store.
KK: It did kind of take me back. I had a lot of great memories of that film.
HS: What are your feelings as it relates to the recnt tragic incidents that have taken place in the Maryland and Virginia areas?
KK: That hits really close to home.
My best friend's family lives in that area. It's really hard when you
have a business that deals in horror and corpses and their is so much
of the really thing happening all around us. I came so close to
cancelling my Halloween haunt last year in the wake of Sept 11th. What
changed my mind was my neighbor who told me that what the people needed
at that moment was a sense of normalacy. He talked me into keep the
haunt up for the kids and I'm glad I did. I had more than one parent
tell me thank you and that my house is all their kids talk about the
whole month of October.
HS: It has been a really scary
year. Well, just over a year. With all that's been going on, everybody
wants to put blame on the haunt industry. Saying that it's insensitive,
and that we should stop doing that. But what I think, is that if people
knew just how much joy this industry brings to so many people, they'd
realize that we're not doing anything bad. Just trying to give people
what they want.
KK: Exactly. I think that it's a
catharsis as well. We deal with death and horror on a daily basis and I
think Halloween is the one time of year that we can put our arm around
death and offer up a toast to all that scares us. We can face our fears
in a safe environment so to speak.
HS: How long ago did you move out of Baltimore?
KK: Fifteen years ago. I directed a
music video for a local band and some girl saw it and told her friend
who was a producer at Universal about it. He called me at home and
asked if I had ever considered moving out to California and I told him
yes. I was born there and was thinking of moving back. He told
me to look him up when I came out and maybe he could find some
directing work for me. As it turned out, he had left Universal by the
time I moved out there. I got a job with them anyway and I've been
employed by them for fifteen years this past August.
HS: A job at Universal...that's awesome!
KK: One Word.....Scorpion King! Ok, that's two words.
HS: What is your job there?
KK: I work in the Archives and
Collections department. It's funny that a guy with a film degree ended
up working behind a desk, but it's a cool gig. We handle all of the
contracts and any paperwork that was ever generated by the studio since
the 1920's. We also have the props from a lot of the films we did. It's
a lot of fun trying on the Hannibal Lector mask or The Rocks sword from
HS: It sounds like a job you enjoy very much
KK: Yeah it's cool. I guess my prop making business acts as my creative outlet now.
HS: You had mentioned at the
beginning of this interview about "bowls" that were fashioned out of
skulls. Are these strictly for show, or can they be used for, oh, say
eating a bowl of cheerios out of? (laughs)
KK: I've never tried it, but sure.
Mary Beth Hollyer at Rue Morgue Magazine told me she eats her Boo Berry
cereal out of hers every morning.
HS: Are those made from medical skeletons as well?
KK: Yes. They are anatomically correct human skulls. But not real of course (smiles)
HS: In addition to the corpses and bowls, what else do you offer customers seeking something out of the norm?
KK: Well, we have a line of candles
thats new this year. We have fashioned our skull bowls into a free
standing candle in both red and black wax and we have a dripping skull
candle. With that one we take a skull and age it and then add a
on the top. After a few candles, the wax drips all over the skull,
fills the eye sockets etc.. It looks really cool. I'm using a couple of
them for my buffet table at Halloween this year.
HS: Who are most of your clients?
Are they haunts looking for a distinct prop, or people who want a
creepy decoration to adorn their space?
KK: I think it's around 50/50. The
haunts are the ones that typically buy the corpse props. The skull
bowls and candles are by in large bought by people looking for
something unique for Halloween. I think people get tired of the same
old plastic skull decorations at Target or Walmart and they come to me
looking for something different.
HS: Can you name some of the haunts who feature your props?
KK: You know, off the top of my
head I can't remember names. I just remember one is in Florida, one is
in Texas and one was in St Louis is I remember correctly.
HS: You also offer shirts which were designed by Full Moon Studios, correct?
KK: Correct. Lee at Full Moon
Studios designed our t-shirt and all of our website illustrations. He's a great guy and a great artist! HS: Your corpses are the models for his shirts on the "Creepy T's" website. How did this come about?
KK: I had seen his t-shirt
illustrations on his website and loved his style. So I contacted him
about designing my website illustrations. I was looking for an EC
comics look and I knew he could come up with what I was looking for. He
was interested in seeing some of my corpse props, so I sent him a
couple of pictures. He liked them so much that he asked me if he could
use them as t-shirt models. I was flattered and told him yes. I can't
say enough good things about him. He and his wife run a class operation
over there. He and I are in talks right now about him custom painting a
casket for me to showcase one of my corpses in. Knowing him, it's going
to turn out great!
HS: For those who may not know, EC comics is the company that used to put out the old "Tales From The Crypt" comics right?
KK: Correct. I love that old artwork.
HS: Are all of your props hand-made?
KK: Yes, 100%. Everything from
construction to painting. It is all done by hand. It typically takes me
a week to make a corpse from start to finish.
HS: Are there any plans for new props/items in the near future?
KK: I've been really busy.
Typically when I come up with a new idea, I make it for myself first
and try it out at either our annual Halloween party or at my haunt.
Right now I'm in the process of making what I'm calling a "Candy
Corpse". I'm going to be unveiling it at the Transworld Halloween Trade
Show next March. Basiclly it's going to be a full sized corpse turned
into a giant candy bowl. I'm going to be using it this Halloween, and
getting some feedback from the Trick or Treaters. I'm almost done, and I have to say it's looking awesome!
HS: It sounds like a really unique idea.
HS: In wrapping up, I'd like to say thank you for your time and I wish you nothing but the best in the future