Wednesday, November 12, 2014


SKINLESS (2014) 

Release Date: November 18th 2014 

Duration: 80 Minutes
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen
Audio: Englisg Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo
Director: Dustin Mills
Cast: Brandon Salkil, Allison Fitzgerald, Erin R. Ryan, Dave Parker

Since director Dustin Mills arrived on the scene with THE PUPPET MONSTER MASSACRE in 2010 he has pumped out no less than six micro-budgeted horror films shot on a shoestring but dripping with a love of horror and plenty of goo. This time out we have a a medical researcher named Pete (Brandon Salkil) who is searching for nothing less than the cure for cancer from his modest basement laboratory. He is joined by research partner Dr. Alice Cross (Erin R. Ryan). Pete happens upon a breakthrough when he discover an enzyme in the belly of a flesh-eating parasitic worm which he believes he can program to eradicate cancer the cells.

It's an exciting time for the duo until they approach their financier for additional monies to fund the project and move on to the next stage - animal testing. The financier  (Dave Parker) is not so willing to cough up additional funds as he's seen very little progress in the area of research. 

With success so close Pete is crushed by the set-back and reveals to Alicia that he has cancer and has a growth on his shoulder. He suggest that they test the new drug on himself but his research partner is just not having it and wants nothing to do with it. 

Obsessed and driven by self preservation Pete injects himself with the serum and awaken the next day to find the growth has miraculously healed. He calls Alicia and the financier to announce the great news and as he waits he discovers that an unfortunate side effects of the parasitic enzyme is that it dissolves his skin rather quickly. Alicia and the pacifier arrive at his house and find Pete bandaged up and wearing a mask and goggles looking something like DARKMAN. The enzyme not only having affected his skin but also his mind and he has a new hunger for flesh. Things quickly spin out of control as Pete further deteriorates and spirals into madness putting his research partner in harm's way as he fights his new found hunger while his deep-seated amorous feelings for her come to the surface.

Shot on a shoestring budget Mills makes the most of what he has with some truly gory flesh-melting special effects that should please the gore hounds among us, some serious low-budget body horror up on the screen. Some of it can look cheap at times - and it certainly is - but still quite a fun watch loaded with gross visuals. Watching this I was reminded of the awesome film THE INCREDIBLE MELTING MAN, another fun film with a disintegrating protagonist you should check out. 

There's some full frontal nudity throughout which I can certainly appreciate which only serves to further push the body horror elements once things turn south for a few young ladies and if you crave the sight of someone shitting into a bucket SKINLESS has got that fetish covered, too.

The cast is pretty damn good, not exactly a-level acting but just right in there roles, particularly Brandon Salkil as Peter (who is also the co-writer on the film) and Erin R. Ryan as his sympathetic research partner. They had a decent chemistry together and di a fine job. 

To get the full measure of enjoyment from this nasty slice of micro-budget horror I think you need an appreciation for true low-budget cinema. This is a film shot on the cheap with a few thousand dollars and it can be a bit rough at times in both the visual and audio department. The audio on the disc was not the greatest and I found myself adjusting the volume quite a bit during my viewing, not all the audio was clearly discernible and the levels seemed to jump around. The composition of the shot were nicely done with some decent lighting but there were contrast issues and the image just is not very sharp and for those of you jaded by HDTV with razor sharpness this just might be a bit of a chore to sit through. 

Always a pleasure to sit down for a Dustin Mill joint which rarely disappoint. Mills is one of the most entertaining micro-budget directors out there right now and SKINLESS (aka THE BALLAD OF SKINLESS PETE) is a blast from start to finish with copious amounts of gore, and nudity. Was surprised how straight this was payed with very little of the humor I've come to expect from a Dustin Mills production, it doesn't hurt the film and Mills proves he's got what it takes to play it straight with this indie body-horror feature, can't wait to see what's next from the talented Mr. Mills.