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Skinner Reviews

Unleashed onto home video after two years' confinement on the shelf, SKINNER is an underdeveloped, unpleasant psycho chiller. In need of extra money, Kerry Tate (Ricki Lake) rents out a spare room to Dennis Skinner (Ted Raimi) while her trucker husband, Geoff (David Warshofsky), is away on a job. Dennis seems like a nice, rather shy young man, but is actually a cruel psychopath who abducts and skins young women,having witnessed his doctor father performing a post-mortem on his mother when he was a child. He himself is being hunted by Heidi (Traci Lords), a previous victim who escaped, minus some epidermis, before he could kill her. She tracks him down and confronts him as he's prowling for prey, but he overcomes her and butchers yet another innocent girl. Despite Geoff's suspicions and her own discovery of some tangential evidence, Kerry doesn't suspect Dennis's true nature until it's too late. He takes her to the basement where he skins his victims, but is interrupted by the arrival of Geoff and Heidi. During the ensuing struggle, a security guard appears, mistakenly shoots Heidi dead and wounds Dennis. Although he's incapacitated, Dennis just laughs; he knows he'll be judged insane and eventually be free to stalk again. Given that director Ivan Nagy's involvement with Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss and Lake's talk-show success only came to light after SKINNER's production, its delayed release could be seen as felicitous. But factor in Lords's adult-film past and the backgrounds of the movie's makers are far more interesting than anything that turns up on screen. Almost entirely bereft of plot, SKINNER quickly degenerates into a series of stalk-and-murder scenes involving anonymous female victims, punctuated by such offensive comic relief as Dennis indulging in minstrel-show antics while clad in the skin of a black man. Instead of being scary, the clinical scenes of butchery (excised in the R-rated version) and shots of the half-skinned Lords injecting herself with painkillers are just gross and unsavory; no doubt this isn't the kind of exposed flesh Lords's fans are interested in. She and the other actors do what they can under the circumstances, but are generally undone by characters who are — to stay with the film's prevalent metaphor — only skin-deep. (Graphic violence, extensive nudity, profanity.)