Meet the mind behind the zombie head gumball machine

Artist Thomas Kuebler shares the inspiration behind his frightening and funny severed-head gumball machine.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
2 min read
Geinball Machine
It's both sweet and sinister. Thomas Kuebler

There's an image floating around the Web that is both disturbing and humorous. It looks pretty much like a petrified zombie head with a gumball machine where the brains should be and a lone gumball clinging to the tongue.

Geinball Machine eye detail
Stare into the eye of this gumball machine. (Click to enlarge.) Thomas Kuebler

This is not the sort of image you can forget once you've seen it. It's actually a sculpture created by artist Thomas Kuebler. "I grew up with an interest in monster movies, circus sideshows, and all things bizarre," Kuebler tells Crave. "My artwork often reflects that."

Though Kuebler's creation has spread around the Internet with zombie tags attached, the actual inspiration traces back to a real-life serial killer.

"The films 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre' and 'Silence of the Lambs' were inspired by the serial killer Ed Gein. As gruesome as it sounds, he was known to fashion furniture and clothing out of the remains of his victims. I imagined that something like this gumball machine could have existed in that scenario," Kuebler says. This also explains the "Geinball Machine" name the artist gave to the limited-edition sculpture.

Despite the ghoulish vessel, the gumballs definitely look good enough to eat. "The Geinball Machine is a functional gumball machine, but it was created primarily as a macabre piece of art or oddity," Kuebler says.

Kuebler's background in toy design and animatronics prepared him for his freelance artistic adventures into the the bizarre. His other works include demon skulls, Feejee mermaids, shrunken heads, goblins, and witches rendered in lifelike detail.

The artist periodically makes his creations available for sale through eBay, galleries, and art shows. Your next chance to get spooked out in person will be at the IlluXCon art symposium in Altoona, Pa., in November.

Geinball Machine full view
The Geinball Machine in all its glory. Thomas Kuebler