Reviews | Written by Andrew Pollard 15/10/2019

SKINNER (1993)


Special Features: Interviews / Outtakes and extended scenes / Limited edition booklet

As old favourites from yesteryear continue to get new 4K releases, the latest such offering to get a 4K lick of paint is Ivan Nagy’s Skinner. Long thought lost, let’s see how this 1993 effort holds up here in 2019.

Skinner centres on Ted Raimi’s Dennis Skinner, whose regular everyman appearance conceals the eerie fact that he likes to spend his spare time scouring the streets for people to skin. While he may have one of his former victims (Lords) on his trail, Dennis has taken up temporary residence with Kerry (Lake) and her work-away husband Geoff (Warshofsky) – although his burgeoning crush on Kerry sees this slicing ‘n’ dicing sort battling with the idea of letting the new apple of his eye see the real him.

Given that Skinner has never been widely available for UK audiences – be that on VHS, DVD, or Blu-ray – there was always going to be a certain sense of intrigue about this 101 Films release. In fact, due to the bankruptcy of Cannon Pictures back in 1993, Skinner was barely seen by anybody upon its initial release. While it’s always cool to see Ted Raimi in a leading role, though, the movie itself is only so-so at best.

Raimi himself leads the charge well and channels his best Norman Bates and Hannibal Lecter in a film that he credits as launching his career in B-movie pictures, but the general narrative of Skinner lags a little at times, struggles to truly build suspense, and the performances of the picture’s other key players is a total mixed bag. Traci Lords is great when afforded more to do than limp around, but Ricki Lake’s delivery often makes it hard to watch the scenes involving Lake’s Kelly. And given that Kelly is such a pivotal character who shares so much screen time with Raimi’s Dennis, the end result is one that pulls Skinner down.

Visually, there are some nice touches from direct Ivan Nagy, and special praise certainly has to be reserved for the gore served up by Skinner. In fact, Hammer Films actually turned down the chance to make Skinner due to the story being too disgusting for them. Don’t get us wrong, this isn’t a film that is overflowing with blood-soaked scene after blood-soaked scene, but Skinner is clever in how it spaces out its more intense moments and makes it impactful when the more gnarly moments are needed.

Fleshing out this 101 Films release, the look-back interviews – particularly the one with Ted Raimi – are entertaining and interesting, and then there are some extended scenes and outtakes included to round out the overall package.

All in all, Skinner doesn’t quite live up the notorious reputation it’s received over the years in terms of being a dirty little secret that horror hounds whispered about. It does have some nice cinematography and doesn’t pull back on the gore count, plus it’s always fun to see Ted Raimi given a headlining role, yet this is a movie that often feels too vacant or plain dull to really stay with you past a one-off viewing.

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