Skinned Deep is a low-budget horror movie directed by a makeup effects wizard in the early 2000s. It takes its cues from several other horror movies and has a ton of fun with its over-the-top kooky characters and settings. It's a laughable horror movie great for those midnight screenings with friends over alcohol. There are some amazing bonus features here and a decent A/V presentation from Severin. Recommended.
There are several directors out there who got their start in the practical visual effects world that propelled them to super-stardom in directing their own films. The likes of James Cameron, Peter Jackson, and Guillermo Del Toro are part of that small club and all have numerous Oscars. There are quite a few other filmmakers that fall into this category, but none have made it as big as those three names. One is Gabriel Bartalos who has made a big impact in numerous iconic horror movies as a makeup and special effects maestro. It wasn't until 2003 that Bartalos transitioned in the director's chair with his film Skinned Deep which pays homage to those '70s and '80s grindhouse slasher flicks. With its dark and twisted humor and some surprise cameos, along with some fun gore and practical effects, Skinned Deep is a rather silly, yet fun midnight movie.
Bartalos is been a part of some amazing horror movies over the years, including Jason Lives, Leprechaun, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Frankenhooker, and even Army of the Dead. His special effects and makeup work have created some truly memorable moments in the horror genre. In 2003, he decided to take his knowledge and put his time spent on film sets to use and made Skinned Deep, which is a cross between Texas Chainsaw Massacre, House of 1000 Corpses, and The Hills Have Eyes. Skinned Deep mixes those elements of a crazy family in the woods, murdering innocent civilians for no other reason than to kill others. It's easy to see how much love there is with Bartalos and this genre as his camerawork and special effects enhance the movie, however, Skinned Deep is made on such a small budget that it can't help itself but look silly and hilarious all the way through. Even the performances are downright laughable and Montone. But maybe that's the charm of his grindhouse flick and what it tries to convey.
Skinned Deep follows a family who is traveling across the country on vacation when their car breaks down in the middle of nowhere. The local gas station attendant invites everyone to stay at her home with her family while the car is being fixed, which they oblige. This family is anything but hospitable though as the vacationing family soon finds out through blood and guts. Clearly, Bartalos was going for a family similar to that of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and House of 1000 Corpses with each member having a different ailment. In this film, the always impressive Warwick Davis plays a character named Plates who loves to throw plates at people. Then there is Brain, a guy with a giant brain sticking out of his head, and of course the Leatherface of the bunch - Surgeon General, a maniac with weapons and a metal mask with teeth. Nobody is safe here.
The funny thing here is how fast-paced this movie goes and how over-the-top it can get. Within the first few minutes of the movie, its character list dwindles down, leaving a survivor to navigate a maze of torture and gore to escape. Bartalos certainly has an eye for the camera, and maybe with a bigger budget the film would have looked better, but here, it's done cheaply, but nevertheless with an impressive aspiration for fun camera shots that rival Sam Raimi. Skinned Deep is not for everyone, but for those looking for a rocking good time at midnight, this is a fun one, because it makes no effort to preach or be anything other than what it is - a true grindhouse horror movie with comedy and Warwick Davis.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Skinned Deep brands itself to Severin Films and comes with a Blu-ray Disc that is housed inside a hard, black plastic case. There is no insert of any kind or digital copy. The cover artwork features the main villain Surgeon General that is illustrated. It looks great.
Skinned Deep comes with a 1080p HD transfer and has an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 that keeps its full-frame grindhouse look all the way through. The movie was shot on 16mm and was scanned in at 2K from the original camera negative for this first time ever uncut print of the film, according to the filmmakers. The result is a decent-looking image that is made to look like it's from the '70s. Colors are a bit muted here, especially in the interiors of basements and underground torture spaces.
When outside, colors are more vibrant with greens, oranges, and blue skies. Red blood is always wonderful in any lighting element. Black levels are somewhat deep but can have some amount of crush on them. The detail is soft mostly keeping the filmic grindhouse look intact. Closeups of the makeup effects do show their rubbery and faux applications from time to time. There are some issues with dirt, grime, hairs, and other pixelation from time to time. It's all part of the show though and looks as good as it can given the source.
This release comes with a DTS-HD MA 2.0 audio mix and does a good job with its zany sound effects. They are rather goofy but are robust and loud with some decent directionality. Dialogue is clean and clear, but is flat for the most part and can sound a little tin-canny in certain scenes. The score adds elements of suspense as well. There were no other audio problems noted here.
There are about 40 minutes of extras here, all of which are worth watching and might just be better than the movie itself. The commentary track is wonderful as well. Severin advertises a CD soundtrack included here, but there was not one included.
Skinned Deep is one of those horror movies where everyone will no doubt root for the villains rather than the victims or heroes. The villains are just so cartoony and violently fun and weird, that it's difficult not to have fun with them. And it's clear that Bartalos loves the horror genre and maybe if he was given a bigger budget, Skinned Deep would be a new horror franchise in theaters. With decent enough audio and video presentations and some excellent bonus features, this one comes Recommended!