Wednesday, March 20, 2019

SKINNER (1993) Blu-ray review

Skinner (1993) d. Ivan Nagy (USA) (88 min)

“He’ll get under your skin!” So goes the tagline for this twisted little slice of serial killer madness, with an Ed Gein-inspired drifter Dennis Skinner (Ted Raimi) moving into the spare room of lonely young housewife Kerry (Ricki Lake) and her boorish truck driver husband Geoff (David Warshofsky). Dennis spends his days stalking the streets of L.A., picking up streetwalkers and separating them from their hides (visualized in graphic fashion by the goremeisters at KNB) and nights endearing himself to the neglected lady of the house. But unbeknownst to anyone except the manager of the sleazy hotel across town (David Schiff), a mysterious, trenchcoat-wearing blonde named Heidi (Traci Lords) has her eye on the freaky bladeslinger, her horribly scarred body a witness to his savagery and the whetstone for her revenge.

Summarily dismissed as a tasteless Silence of the Lambs rip-off when it was released (despite the fact that screenwriter Paul Hart-Wilden had been shopping the script for years prior), this still-potent sickie from veteran television director (CHiPs, Starsky & Hutch, oodles of Movies of the Week) Nagy walks a curious, at times uneasy line between dark, moody shocker and goofy exploitation splatter flick. Shot in 2.5 weeks with its seedy narrative and lower-tier star cast (Lake was still “that Hairspray girl,” Lords was still “that former underage porn star,” and Raimi was still “Sam’s younger brother”), this was never going to be anyone’s idea of an Oscar-winning Hollywood production.

But when it was revealed that Nagy was the boyfriend of Hollywood Madam Heidi Fleiss (Nick Broomfield’s 1995 documentary was being shot at the same time as Skinner), the film was more or less doomed to VHS obscurity. Critics who did review it during its limited theatrical release decried its flagrant gore and mean-spiritedness, despite the fact that Nagy pitches the whole thing as a kind of sick sophomoric joke and Raimi’s and Lords’ unhinged performances seal the deal . (That said, it’s pretty hard to defend the sequence – then or now – where Dennis kills and skins an African-American co-worker, then proceeds to don the flesh and pursue his next unfortunate victim using an even more unfortunate SteppenFetchit dialect.)

Thanks to some impressive legwork by Hart-Wilden (revealed on his accompanying interview), the notoriously underseen shocker was literally rescued from the trash heap and is now primed to delight a whole new generation of gorehounds thanks to this high-def presentation from Severin Films, packed with fantastic candid and revealing interviews from cast and crew. We learn that Hart-Wilden (The Living Doll) actually shopped the script to Hammer Films among others before landing with Nagy and producer Brad Wyman, director Jeremy Kasten (The Wizard of Gore remake) assembled the disparate jumbled elements into a semi-coherent feature, and that Nagy (who passed away in 2015) formed the successful MacDaddy Adult Video brand after being unceremoniously booted from gentile Hollywood circles.


Brand new 4K scan from the original camera negative

“A Touch of Scandal” 2007 interview with director Ivan Nagy (20 min)

“Under His Skin” Interview with actor Ted Raimi (15 min)

“Bargain Bin VHS For A Buck” Interview with screenwriter Paul Hart-Wilden (17 min)

“Cutting Skinner” Interview with editor Jeremy Kasten (11 min)

“Hooker flaying sequence” out-takes and extended takes (12 min)

Trailer (2 min)

Skinner is available now on Blu-ray from Severin Films and can be ordered HERE:



  1. I picked this up a few years ago on VHS I really need to sit and watch it sounds like fun.

    1. It's a strange combo of sleaze and goofy over-the-top performances and gore. Worth checking out, if only for curiosity's sake!