An unhappily married woman who needs extra money rents a room in her house to a seemingly friendly and likable guy named Dennis (who she soon finds herself falling for due to the fact that her husband treats her like garbage). What she doesn’t know is that he is actually a deranged killer who enjoys skinning his victims and wearing their skin for shits and giggles. Will she figure out his secret before it’s too late or is she setting herself up to become just another of his many victims?
Despite the fact that it has some pretty well-known people such as Ted Raimi, Traci Lords, and Ricki Lake attached to it Skinner is one of those movies that just sort of came and went without anyone really paying any attention to it back in the early nineties. I was familiar with it as I remember seeing it on the shelf at the local video store back in the day but since I really hadn’t heard a whole lot about it I went into it with low expectations and expected it to be nothing more than just your average mediocre timewaster at best. Much to my surprise it was much better than that and I ended up really digging it for a number of reasons.
Without a doubt the main reason I liked this movie is because of Raimi’s performance. I have always been a huge fan of the guy and I think that he just kicks all kinds of ass in general. He never fails to put his heart and soul into the roles he plays and he really knocks it out of the park this time around. He does such an awesome and convincing job of playing a total nut job in this film that you may actually believe that he really is mentally deranged. It is obvious that he had a blast playing the part and even though he is actually the antagonist of the film that we are supposed to hate I couldn’t help but really like him and I found myself rooting for him as he went about stalking and killing his victims (wow, what does that say about me I wonder?). He owns every scene that he is in and the bit where he is walking around wearing the skin of one of his male coworkers that he has killed is priceless (the voice that he uses and the things that he says during this scene had me laughing my ass off).If you ask me Ted was the perfect choice for the part and I don’t think that the film would have been nearly as good had someone else been cast in the role.
Even though Dennis is a pretty easy-going and nice guy at times he is also one vicious son-of-a-bitch behind closed doors. As a result the film contains some pretty brutal scenes and I was surprised by how graphic some of them were. The one that comes to mind immediately involves Dennis skinning one of his dead victims as he “tells” her all about his warped past. While he explains to her the reason why he is so messed up in the head he proceeds to cut open her back and peel the skin away. From there he actually rips her face off and puts it on like a mask ala Leatherface from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The scene is actually pretty disturbing as well as gory as hell, and I can imagine that it has really freaked out some viewers out there who have weak stomachs. Being the gore hound that I am though, I loved it and thought that it was one of the best parts of the movie.
I also thought that the rest of the cast did a terrific job as well. Ricki Lake is good as the lonely and mistreated wife that rents out a room to Raimi’s character. She is a sad and pitiful character and I couldn’t help but feel bad for her due to the way her asshole husband treats her (which causes her to develop romantic feelings for Dennis at one point since he treats her much, much better in comparison). I also dug Traci Lords’ character as well. She is Dennis’ first victim who managed to somehow survive but has been horribly scarred (both physically and mentally) as a result of the encounter. She is obsessed with making him pay for what he did to her and spends most of the movie stalking him and trying to kill him (when she isn’t busy hanging out in a sleazy hotel and shooting up with Morphine). She is just as mentally unstable as he is, and Traci does a great job of bringing the character to life.
I really enjoyed Skinner. It had a lot going for it and was just an entertaining little flick in general. I love the ending and think that what Dennis says to Traci Lords’ character after their big confrontation is nothing short of brilliant (and realistic). To be honest I am a little surprised that no one ever made a sequel to it as the conclusion leaves the door wide open for a continuation of Dennis’ story. Check this movie out if you get a chance, you won’t regret it.