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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Skinless
Skinless
Other // Unrated // November 18, 2014
List Price: $16.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Kurt Dahlke | posted December 5, 2014 | E-mail the Author
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Skinless:
I'd just like to take this opportunity to say how happy I am to be able to write a review for a movie named Skinless.

No, I'm serious. This has to be one of the best horror movie titles of all time, and it's a pretty significant change from the movie's original title, The Ballad of Skinless Pete, which in its sauciness maybe better describes the tone of the movie, but fails to sell it on any level to Joe Six-Pack just a-lookin' for some gore. Skinless is a challenging movie, with two near-fatal flaws, however, it is also whacked-out lovable in all the right ways. Skinless is your obnoxious, ADHD-addled nephew, who just set your spouse's Christmas sweater on fire while finding your lost car keys. Or something.

Listen to the story of Dr. Pete Peele, a genetic researcher hoping to prove his mettle and save his own skin. You see, Peele has skin cancer, but he's found some sort of wormy parasite that he thinks can cure his disease. If he succeeds, he'll go down in history, and save his own life. If he fails, all of his skin will fall off and he'll manage to get beautiful young women to strip naked and spend much of the movie in that state. So you see where we're headed.

Skinless is a hell of a lot of fun. It is so low budget, if it were a person, it couldn't afford a month's rent in a two-bedroom apartment in Queens NY. However, with smart editing and camera work, it makes that months rent look like - if not a million bucks - at least like two months rent. And that rent money was spent strictly on '80s-style gore effects that will warm any old-school horror fan's heart. Plus, it's got naked women! And men! Peele himself (Brandon Salkil) parades around proudly in the altogether. But it is only in the film's climactic last third that co-star Erin R. Ryan gets so naked, for so long, that you drooling men in the audience need begin considering where to mail your thank-you notes to writer/director Dustin Wade Mills.

Weird thing is, you'll probably also chastise him for remaking David Cronenberg's The Fly and hoping no one will notice. That's fatal flaw number one. This movie is The Fly. A researcher wants to rush his experiments. He has trouble with financiers. He's in love with his nominal assistant. He impetuously tests on himself in an impassioned frenzy, and soon begins dissolving. Even the ending [Spoiler Alert - sort-of] is virtually identical to Cronenberg's. You might almost be inclined to forgive Mills for this affront, if his lead didn't totally cop Goldblum's mannerisms from The Fly, which MAKES NO SENSE, since Goldblum was trying to act like a fly! Why would Peele, who's lost his skin, twitch and jerk like a fly, and actually pretty much talk exactly like Goldblum as well? My only guess is that Mills et al were hoping their target audience was too young to remember that towering achievement in body-horror.

But it's all good in the end, if only for the outrageous budget gore, gratuitous peeing, zombie dog, implied face-ripping, bloody mucous in the hand, and - as my notes indicate - 'so much nudity.' Skinless is no masterpiece, but it is smart enough to know exactly how to exploit its limitations. It's splashed with blood and chock-a-block with boobs and butts. Too bad about that Cronenberg fixation, but this one has to be Recommended.

Oh yeah, the other fatal flaw is that Skinless is SO LOW BUDGET it's almost completely impossible to buy into the idea of a cancer researcher doing his best work in the laundry area of his basement. But if you can get past that, there's tons of nudity and gore.

The DVD

Video:
The movie enjoys an expansive 2.35:1 ratio presentation, and looks pretty good for its origins. Colors are fairly rich and details acceptable. Lighting is used ingeniously to cover any deficiencies in FX or otherwise, with a lot of lights pointing straight at the camera J.J. Abrams-style. I didn't notice any serious compression or transfer problems, but you the viewer will certainly understand this a low-budget video production.

Sound:
Stereo Audio is OK as well, though nothing fancy. Music and dialog are mixed accordingly, and everything is acceptably discernable without being terribly dynamic or exciting.

Extras:
Skinless comes with a couple extras, not the least of which is a nice and earnest Commentary Track from director Mills. It's always nice to hear the secrets and stories of those working in the trenches of independent film. You also get about 20-minutes of Production Diaries, which include both Mills explaining how to make blood and gore, and members of his cast answering on-camera message-board questions from fans. You also get the cutest horror movie menu screen ever seen. OK, so that's it for the extras, but they are nice supplements to the movie.

Final Thoughts:
Skinless is no masterpiece, but it is smart enough to know exactly how to exploit its limitations. It's splashed with blood and chock-a-block with boobs and butts. It has a Cronenberg fixation - the plot is suspiciously similar in many ways to Cronenberg's The Fly, but this one makes up for it in youthful brio, clever low-budget gore, and plentiful nudity. Recommended.

- Kurt Dahlke

~ More of Dahlke's DVD Talk reviews here at DVD Talk I'm not just a writer, I paint colorful, modern abstracts, too! Check them out here KurtDahlke.com

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