Skinned Deep (2004)


Day 4 of 31

Director: Gabriel Bartalos
Starring: Les Pollack Aaron Sims Kurt Carley Linda Weinrib Forrest J Ackerman Eric Bennett Warwick Davis. USA. 1h 34m

I’m not quite sure where this year’s 31 days of Horror is going but things are going to get strange. You have been warned! I found this hidden gem in the bargain basket for 50p in a drastic closing down sale due to the Dr Satan’s henchmen looking character on the cover and the awesome title, this method of picking a movie is somewhat dodgy but in this particular case it paid off.
skinned deep

It defines the term off the wall, it seems to have inspired brash films like Dear God No! (2011) and has no excuses for its behaviour what-so-ever, and I adore it’s disregard for the rules.

Beginning with a false start, the scary Death Machine (1994) styled toothy guy on the cover slashes a random stranger on the highway in the rain.. After the credits we’re introduced to a typically boring middle of the road American family who are travelling across country and stumble on an out of the way,  family run stop, but this is no ordinary family. To be honest I don’t really understand if these people are related or just a few survivors from a crashed circus bus? There is a runaway Golden Girl who plays mom, Warwick Davis appears as a real poisoned dwarf called Plates who throws plates at people and generally acts like a Gremlin at all other times, Brain/Brian (Jason Dugre) is a strange mutated guy who has a large pulsating brain that protrudes like a giant afro, and his favourite pastimes involve running through the city naked and riding his motorbike… The Dr Satan/Death Machine guy is also part of the family but seems under some control when at home and there is another guy in the basement but I’m keeping this secret…  Sooooo… the two families meet, the typical American family are all slaughtered over dinner by the circus freak family apart from the pretty teen daughter Tina (Karoline Brandt) who; after catching Brian/Brain’s eye and he gets to “keep” her in spare bedroom, it’s okay though, he puts some paper down for her.
Tina makes several escape attempts, goes on a freaky date with Brain, some aged bikers turn up and shit goes down involving a cactus garden and plates.. And some other “things” occur… until Surgeon General (Dr Satan/Death Machine guy) finally makes it into the basement to meet some headless bodybuilder who’s the mastermind behind all this.

It’s hard to know how someone ends up making a film like this, it’s certainly not your typical horror, but it does include a lot of typical horror elements, after all the crazed family in the middle of nowhere isn’t a unique story in itself, it’s aced by similar films such as  House of 1000 Corpses (2003) and Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), but none do it with such a high degree of comedy and without this thick layer of surreal oddball character. The budget is obviously low but the Director, Gabriel Bartalos doesn’t let this hinder his creative streak and some amazing effects are created especially with Death Machine Guy and the headless “Creator” in the the basement.
Overall the film feels like a fuked up nightmare from an underground graphic novel series, probably written by someone high on meths and struggling with life. It’s pretty unpredictable and even though it’s corny as hell at times it’s a great find and a film I thoroughly enjoy every time, from the aged bikers fighting in the cactus garden to Brain running down the strip ballsack naked.. there ‘s just so much to enjoy.

If the film did attempt to be serious for a moment, it would have rivaled Texas Chainsaw with uber violence, outlandish characters and a very disturbing plot, would have yielded some tragically dark and zany cinema, without any shame , sense or reason but something to sit back and chill to to get a laugh and a fright?




Rating 7/10

R House of 1000 corpses (2003), Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
L – Bizarre Horror films. Dwarf Flicks
A – What did I just see? And other films you have to see to believe.
5s – Warwick Davis


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