Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Starring Joshua Nelson, Melissa Bacelar, Alan Rowe Kelley, Jack Dillon
Directed by James Tucker
Distributed by Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Ah, Lionsgate. Sometimes you just confuse me. Take this little film for instance. It was originally titled Eat Your Heart Out. Now that’s not exactly the greatest name for a movie, but in the context of the film it was fitting. Especially considering the wonderfully dark humor sprinkled throughout. What to do? Change the title to something completely generic and plaster some semi-cool artwork on the box. The hitch? Neither of them has anything to do with the flick itself. But who cares, right? *shakes head*
No one in this movie is skinned alive. Not even close. Nobody’s freshly removed face is draped over barbwire to dry-out. There’s just none of that. What we do have here, though, is a bit of an indie winner.
Pandora (Bacelar) is a whore with a mission — eat the flesh of her Johns as a means to survive. Things are going great for our coital-loving cannibal until she eats the retarded brother of a vengeful man known only as The Stalker (Nelson). This dude is out for blood, and thus he begins a hunt that leads him all over New York City. Enter Jeffrey (Dillon). He’s a lonely guy just looking for love. Old Jeff spends day after day getting it on with various call girls until he meets one that just steals his heart (we’re talking figuratively for now), and that girl is Pandora. Stunned by Jeffrey’s sweetness, she too falls in love instantly and decides to stop hooking to marry him. Of course there are two things keeping them from total happiness — her hunger for flesh and the stalker’s relentless pursuit.
Skinned Alive has a few things going for it. First and foremost is the acting. Everyone rises to the occasion to turn in performances that are truly engaging. There wasn’t a single false note hit in the whole affair, and in the low budget horror world that’s no small feat. Of special mention here is Alan Rowe Kelley, who shows up as Mama, the pimp. His screen time may be short, but Kelley wins the day for not only gleefully exhibiting his monumental sleaze factor, but for delivering one of the film’s best and funniest lines. A great cameo for sure.
Then there’s the overall feel. Director James Tucker knew what he was making here and, as a result, ends up delivering a dark comedy that’s as sordid as it is ambiguous. You’re never really sure who or what Pandora is, and that’s a good thing. I just hope she ends up coming back for a sequel and brings more flesh-eating whores with her!
And what of the gore, you ask? Well, there’s plenty of it being thrown around, but sadly, some of the effects end up on the rubbery-looking side of the fence. Still, I’ll take the stretchy fake flesh motif over lame-ass CGI splatter any day. It’s easy to forgive this and the flick’s other shortcomings when you consider the absurdity of what’s going on. I really dug it, but wow, did I feel like I needed a shower afterward. That’s a true compliment!
Uncomplimentary however is Skinned Alive‘s DVD treatment. All that’s to be found here is a brief making-of featurette and the usual boatload of Lionsgate trailers. A commentary would have been really nice, but alas, this ship has sailed.
Looking for a good old-fashioned throwback to when low budget horror movies had nuts the size of grapefruits and actually delivered some shock for your buck? Add Skinned Alive to your recipe book. While far from perfect, it sports enough tits, gore, and overall lunacy to keep even the most jaded of fans watching.
3 1/2 out of 5
1 out of 5
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