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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

Skinner (1993)
(Blu-Ray & DVD Dual Format)


Starring: Ted Raimi, Ricki Lake, Traci Lords and Richard Schiff
Distributor: 101 Films
RRP: £TBC (Blu-Ray & DVD Dual Format)
Certificate: 18
Release Date: 23 September 2019

Dennis Skinner would seem to be a normal friendly and unassuming man, but in reality he is a psychotic killer who skins his victims and wears their faces and - often a full body interpretation – to become that person (like you do). Prior victim Heidi is attempting to track him down. Getting steadily closer, she soon discovers he is a creature of habit. But Dennis is staying in a room rented to him by trucker’s partner Kerry. She feels deserted and Dennis has designs on her. It’s a coupling which doesn’t bode well when Dennis attempts reveal to her his true self. Will Heidi catch-up with him in time for a final reckoning...?

This film was thought to have been lost (we should be so lucky!), but the master was painstakingly tracked-down and is now presented in a new 2K restoration, after being screened at London’s FrightFest film festival. Traci Lords as Heidi is one of the worst performances I have ever seen. It’s quite simply awful, dry and characterless. Ted Raimi is the brother of The Evil Dead and Spider-Man director Sam Raimi. Ted’s portrayal of Dennis would appear to be too laid back and friendly for this role, but I suppose that’s the point really; the character is your ‘everyman’ and only changes when he dons the skins of his victims. The most believable character in this story is Kerry, played by the very attractive Ricki Lake, best known for her long-running TV show which she presented to great acclaim, and her role in the film Hairspray.

Albeit this film has allusions to Leatherface from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, at least there is an explanation for Dennis Skinner’s actions. It is revealed that when his mother died, his pathologist father performed the post mortem and pulled-off her face in front of him. He later returned to her body to wear her face. There is a scene wherein a mouthy work colleague is boasting of how he used to be a boxer and would have put down Mike Tyson with little difficulty given the chance. When he threatens Dennis, we later see our killer walking down the street wearing a complete suit of the man’s skin. He is mimicking the man both in accent and movements. Because this man was an African American it is now considered to be a tasteless racist moment, though it should be considered that the script has the man ridiculed in retaliation for being threatened, rather than any cultural difference.

It’s nice to see these post video nasty low budget movies – particularly when thought to be lost – but this one from 1993 is nothing to write home about. For curiosity’s sake it’s worth seeing once, but I doubt it will stand repeated viewings. I’ve given this an extra point for the special features. A Touch of Scandal is an interview with director Iván Nagy, wherein he tells the intriguing story of how he fled Hungry to America, took up photography and moved into directing low-budget films – before being involved in a scandal and falling-out with the industry. Other extras include Interviews with Ted Raimi, Screenwriter Paul Hart-Wilden, and Editor Jeremy Kasten; the Flaying Sequence outtakes and extended takes (overly long and dull), and a Limited Edition Booklet about the search for the film master.


Ty Power

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