Friday, September 24, 2010

Time to Skin the Lightning Bugg...

Check the calendar kiddos: it’s time for the monthly Lightning Bugg’s Lair/Deadly Doll’s House Exchange Program! This month, I assigned Mr. T.L. Bugg one of my absolute favorite films, Stuart Gordon’s 1987 horror fairy tale, Dolls. Head over to his fine establishment of a blog for his take (which better be dripping with praise or the fluorescent lamp WILL be turned to high) as I tackle the less esteemed, yet still...interesting 2004 indie, Skinned Deep.

Quick Plot: Like about 31% of all direct-to-DVD horror, Skinned Deep revolves around a group of ‘normies (in this case, a family a few waiting lists spots away from eligibility in The Biggest Loser) whose car breaks down in the land of mutant backwoods carnivores. The perfectly unsightly nuclear family are invited to dinner with a seemingly kind old lady and her sons:

 the Surgeon General (a gas masked cousin of Dr. Satan with a rather groovy bear trap mouth)

Brain, the sensitive overall clad shy one with an enormous noggin

and my favorite, Plates, the dish-tossing dwarf played with typical panache by a pasty faced Warwick Davis.

In a pretty kickass (yet incredibly silly) scene, 3/4 of the family is brutally slaughtered and the teenage Tina taken captive to be Brain’s future bride. Don’t worry: it’s much less dirty than it sounds.

Sure, the kind-hearted mutant gets a fantasy Basket Case-like streaking scene in Times Square (something that apparently got the very game Jay Dugre arrested since unlike Cameron Crowe, director Gabe Bartalos wasn’t about to splurge on those filming permits) but Brain treats Tina like a lady. He even takes her to a public park filled with people whom she could probably have hitched a ride with and teaches her how to ride a motorcycle, something that in no way could possibly have any bearing on anything else that might happen later in the film.

Meanwhile, the mutant family makes a few more enemies when an elderly gang of bikers (one member being the late Forest Ackerman) stop for some coffee. When one geezer decides to put the moves on Granny, she responds accordingly by having her children brutally slay him, later leading to his grizzled gray haired pals riding back to town to take some vengeance. And get blown up, attacked by plates, and have heart attacks. Whatever happened to bingo halls and early bird specials?

By now you probably realize that Skinned Deep is no Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It is, however, about on par with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation or perhaps more fittingly, the Dan Akroyd directed Nothing But Trouble. Yes, these are comparisons that should send chills down the spines of most discerning filmgoers, but there are plenty of cinema-nonsnobs with a weird sweet tooth for this type of terrible fun.

And seriously, that’s what this movie is. Warwick Davis seems to have full reign of doing whatever the Hoth he feels, from a touchdown dance in front of an old shirtless man to an extensive political monologue about why senior citizens suck. It’s that kind of movie, and as long as you’re in the mood for it, it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

(For the record, this man clearly does not suck. I mean his acting kind of does, but look at that grin!)

High Points
This might make me an evil person, but I automatically give a handful of bonus points to any film unafraid to murder its underage characters

Low Points
You know, when female nudity is displayed in most films, the audience gets really excited because most of the time, it’s somewhat impressive. Why is it then that most of the men who take it all off on camera are generally just...well, I give them points for bravery

I often complain when low budget releases don’t include subtitles and generally, it’s for a very simple reason. The audio of Skinned Deep is terrible, loud in some scenes and barely audible in others. Thankfully, the DVD includes a necessary subtitle option that simply must be on to get half the film

Lessons Learned
Cardinal rules of T names remain in place. Just as any character named Tiffany is inevitably a slut, the heroic Tina follows her name in being your typical bitch

It takes about 8 seconds to choke to death on sand

A heart attack is best explained as your heart exploding into chunks

Vegetable print dresses flatter no woman, least of all Bette Midler’s much less attractive mutant cousin (who by the way, isn’t playing one of the mutants)

The Winning Line:

“Coffee. Make mine black.”
Um. You don’t make coffee black. It comes that way. You make it un-black by adding stuff to it. Hence, when your waitress is holding an urn, you don’t need to say anything else

Skinned Deep will please a particular sort of horror fan, the type who relishes the zany washed down with a gooey glass of gore. It’s not a good movie--okay, it’s a terrible terrible film--but at the same time, it never shies from its wackiness and delivers the goods with a whole lot of heart. The DVD includes an audio commentary and a behind-the-scenes feature with a style of its own. Just watch Warwick Davis behind interviewed while wearing his Leprechaun makeup. That in itself is kind of super.


  1. Well that looks fun. I just bought this a week or so ago actually. The Gabe Bartolos / Warwick Davis combo was just too good to pass up... also the $2 price tag. I think it might be time for me to move this one up a bit in my stack of DVDs and try to squeeze it into this weekend.

  2. John, where do you find rare $2 movies? I'm jealous! Though I'll probably never watch this one again, it's easily worth the price of a latte, especially with some genuinely fun special features. Enjoy!

  3. Reading the review and looking at the screen captures, I thought of Nothing But Trouble. This looks ridiculous and right up my alley.

  4. So glad I'm not alone in somewhat enjoying the awfulness that is Nothing But Trouble. Ahh, Pavlovian acceptance of those random movies that would air on HBO every other afternoon after school.

  5. Hot diggity-damn! If our main Surgeon General doesn't look like a distant cousin of Balsac the Jaws of Death from GWAR! This movie looks like a gigantic syrupy bowl of gore and goofiness... and I can certain down a bowl of that slop every now and then!

  6. This film started off alright, what with the "Ha! You missed me death" being a high point, but for a film pretty much selling itself on the Surgeon General character (which interesting enough was created by a special effect student), he really doesn't feature strongly enough and would have been better, just to cut out the other annoying family members.

    Love the idea of trading films to review and would welcome a chance to join in your exchange program, should you welcome in any other blogs, to join in the fun. :)

  7. MIkey: Every once in a while, I forget about GWAR until something random occurs to bring them back. I wouldn't be surprised if the director was a fan.

    Elwood: I forgot about the "Ha! You missed me!" deathscene, which did make me really happy. And the Surgeon General was a little oddly fitting, since he was generally scary compared to his family, who were just wacky old fools. And I'll keep you in mind for a future exchange. So many movies out there to be shared...

  8. Fangoria was behind Skinned Deep? I guess I need to follow Fangoria more often because right now they just came out with 8 great films last Tuesday. I've been dying to see Dark House for awhile. So happy Netflix has it now.

  9. A few of those Fangoria films sound promising, but I'll probably wait for some fellow blogging feedback before I venture into that pile. I've been burned by AfterDark far too many times.