Lionsgate // 2008 // 90 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // August 22nd, 2008
Terror runs deep.
When prostitutes attack! And digest!
Poor, sad, hopeless Jeffrey (Jack Dillon). All he wants is someone to love. But because he's so unbelievably pathetic he can't get a date. So he's turned to prostitution for female companionship. When the deeds are done, Jeffrey continues to pile up the points in the Pathetic Loser column by trying to convince the hookers to go out to dinner with him or talk or share feelings or be his girlfriend. Of course they all say no and/or laugh in his face.
Just when he starts contemplating suicide, along comes Pandora (Melissa Bacelar), a beautiful, curvy lady of the evening. After an evening of sensitive lovemaking, the two start talking and forge an emotional connection. Jeffrey falls in love with Pandora, the woman he's convinced is his soul mate.
One problem: she's a homicidal cannibal.
"This is who I am. Do not judge me!"
That line is uttered by Pandora, right after she handcuffed a drunken whore to a bed, murdered her and bit large chunks of flesh out of the dead body. She did all of this in front of Jeffrey, in an effort to open up to her beau and be completely honest and make the most out of what has the potential to be a meaningful and long-lasting relationship. To this, Jeffrey replies:
"I just saw you kill and eat a girl. Yet I don't love you any less. I don't know how I can accept this, but I will."
Hmm. Now up to this point, we were dealing with a pretty straightforward slice of indie horror. Pandora's a prostitute who kills and eats her clients. Cool. I can dig it. Even when Jeffrey and Pandora start their relationship I was still tuned into a gorefest, a more-than-serviceable one at that.
But after the encounter described above, the film fundamentally turned into something else -- a screwball comedy. Problem is, it's not intended to be one. Look, Jeffrey is pathetic, for sure. So pathetic even, that he seriously flirts with being an unsympathetic character. After the second time this loser tried to take a call girl to an Italian restaurant I was shouting at the screen "Dude, just sign up for frickin' eHarmony!" But to think a guy, no matter how lonely and horny he might be, is willing to overlook his girlfriend eating some girl's spleen in front of him...nah, too ridiculous, especially for a horror flick playing it straight.
Setting aside that game-changing-inadvertently-hilarious-tear-you-out-of-the-movie moment, Skinned Alive isn't a bad little gore flick. Graphic cannibalism can always be counted on for squirminess and director James Tucker isn't gun-shy about letting his lens play over Melissa Bacelar with her mouth full of goopy prosthetics. These well-executed blood effects should churn the stomach enough to keep the gore connoisseurs semi-interested -- if the overwrought romance doesn't drive them away.
A decent making-of featurette is the only aspect of note on an otherwise forgettable DVD release (fake widescreen and 2.0 stereo).
There was potential here, but Skinned Alive jumps off the rails. Even the nifty final scene can't redeem it.
Guilty. But we'll just give you a slap on the wrist.
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated R