Skinned Deep DVD Review
Written by Neon Maniac
DVD released by Hart Sharp Video
Written and directed by Gabriel Bartalos
2004, Region 1(NTSC), 97 Minutes, Rated R
DVD released on May 17th, 2005
Peter Iasillo Jr.
Forrest J. Ackerman
A normal American family stranded on a deserted highway by a flat tire is "rescued" by an insane American family of mutants. Gore , mayhem, a wedding, and senior citizen bikers ensue as the sole remaining victim tries to make her way to civilization and safety.
From beginning to end, you're going to keep thinking to yourself, "I've seen this movie before, only it was better then." It is hard to tell whether the movie is one big, cluttered homage to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre series (TCM 2 especially,) Mad Max, and just about any other family vacation gone awry movie; or just uncreative screen writing. After listening to the commentary and watching the 'making of'' featurette, the answer is: both.
Writer, Producer and Director Gabriel Bartalos is an experienced makeup effects man with a list of high profile credits including Leprechaun, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Frankenhooker, Darkman, and Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives among many others. Skinned Deep is Bartalos' first attempt at making his own film, and it shows. He seems to be reshooting scenes the way he would have liked them done in the original films, as well as introducing some bad guys that have probably been rattling around in his brain for awhile. He is never able to properly meld the two, and what he ends up with is a bizarre, often chaotic film with a plot thinner than newsprint.
The acting is what is to be expected in low budget horror, but not all of it is the actors fault. The dialogue is unnatural at points, and the character motivations are often boggling. For instance, as our heroine tries to make her big escape from the house, she continually yells, "Hello, is anybody there?" That is just the tip of the iceberg.
All is not lost, the film does have its strong points. The caliber of the makeup effects crew is probably better than any other low budget horror movie around, and they take the time to do their jobs right. Surgeon General, the poorly named but otherwise kick ass leader (he's the one with the goggle eyes and bear trap mouth) is very well done, suitably merciless, and would probably have a career in sequels if he had been introduced in a better film. (The other main mutants are forgettable at best. You've got Brain, a guy with a really big brain, and Plates, an angry dwarf that likes to throw plates.) Being a "horror comedy" there are also some very funny scenes, but for every joke that works there seems to be one that doesn't. Skinned Deep is also the only movie I've ever seen to have an Old Man vs. Midget Death Match. Never underestimate how entertaining that can be!
While Skinned Deep may not be the best horror movie around, it is not the worst. Skinned Deep has enough gore and creepiness to satisfy any low budget horror fan.
Video and Audio:
Skinned Deep is presented in a 4:3 Full Screen ratio and originally filmed on 16 mm film. Picture quality is inconsistent, lighter scenes look the best while dark scenes never achieve the proper black levels. There is plenty of artifacting through out. This is par for the course with low budget releases and was expected. One surprising thing about the picture is that many of the outdoor sequences appeared to be filmed by a camera with a very dirty lens; smudge marks are often found in the upper left hand corner of the screen.
The web site and promotional letter for the DVD says the film is 5.1 Surround. The DVD I received for review was Dolby Digital 2.0 Pro Logic. The sound was muddled at points and quite often the spoken dialogue was lost in the soundtrack music. Hopefully the final release of the film will be 5.1 and sound better.
Extras on this disc include English and Spanish subtitles, a cast and crew commentary, and a making of featurette that runs about 22 minutes. The featurette is interesting and gives a good look behind the scenes of Skinned Deep. The film is made by experienced special effects specialists, and they enjoy showing off their work and explaining how they do things. One question that is never answered during the 22 minutes is; why was Warwick Davis dressed up as the Leprechaun during all of his interview sequences?
(Neon's Movie Lounge contains a Zenith 42" Plasma EDTV, Oppo DV971H DVD player using a DVI connection, JVC 5.1 DD/DTS receiver and JBL Northridge E Series speakers.)