It’s All Fun and Games Until Ted Raimi Loses His Mind. . .and His Shirt
Dennis Skinner (Ted Raimi) is your average, everyday young man, but with a dark secret life. When he rents a room from a lonely housewife (Ricki Lake), he finds a trusting soul with whom he can feel safe. But a prostitute (Traci Lords) who knows Skinner’s secret is dead set on ending his path of destruction.
Let me preface this review by saying I will not be focusing entirely on Ted Raimi, contrary to what many who know me will expect. I will not be gushing over his rippling abs or sexy pecs which I would like to touch. I will not get all slobbery over his smooth back and surprisingly beefy arms which I would like to touch. Ted Raimi is not a delicious piece of man meat for me to paw. He is a legitimate actor, so you sick vultures can just back off.
I should also mention that this review is based off the DVD version, which oddly enough cuts about nine minutes of KNB EFX footage from the original runtime of 90 minutes. I call shenanigans on Simitar DVD for that. How dare you cut out all the gory goodies, and leave nothing but Ted Raimi without a shirt (oh yes!) and Ricki Lake in some of the worst outfits to come from the early 90s (oh no!)? HOW DARE YOU, indeed. So, humble viewer, if you are looking for the gore, you would do wise to track down a copy on VHS.
Now, having said all that, this movie is a testament to how good a bad movie can be. The story of Skinner is a simple one: boy meets landlady, boy dances with landlady while holding a sharp knife (nothing dangerous here), boy skins hookers for the lulz (that’s not the real reason, but it might as well be). Oh, one more thing: boy is chased by deformed Traci Lords who likes long walks in (not along) the water, shooting up, and wearing floppy hats. Why, she could be the girl of his dreams, if he wasn’t so jazzed about his landlady and she wasn’t so bent on killing him.
This has to be the best worst movie I’ve ever seen. It’s far more entertaining than, mainly because things actually happen in this, albeit for no apparent reason. The main character is fascinated with water. Why? No reason. It just provides us with images of Ted playing with water. Traci wants Ted dead. Why? No reason. Maybe she didn’t like him in . Ted and Ricki have sex (off-screen, thank god). Why? No reason, other than she probably isn’t getting it from her dirtbag trucker husband.
In addition to things happening, Skinner also has a rather groovy soundtrack from a band called Contagion. According to exactly one website, Contagion is Los Angeles’s premier industrial band. Thank god for them, lest we be saddled with a lesser industrial band like Nine Inch Nails. I suppose Cleveland, Ohio’s premier industrial band couldn’t cut the mustard on this one. Unfortunately for Contagion and for everyone else, much of the audio on this DVD is either horribly muddled or very echo-y. I would have to assume that when the dialogue drops out, that is when we find the answers to the questions above. There’s no explanation otherwise.
Skinner also has pretty much the most forehead-slapping title out there. I imagine the pre-production meetings went something like this:
“Gentlemen, I have an idea for a movie about a man who skins women. I’m thinking of calling this guy Dennis Johnson, but that isn’t punchy enough. I really want to beat my audience over the head with this.”
“Okay, how about, since he skins people, you name him Dennis Skinner, and you call the movie. . .get this. . .Skinner. Eh? Eh?”
Okay, I could be exaggerating, but honestly, it’s a little like naming a movie about snakes on a plane.
Skinner really just has to be seen to be believed. There is an incredibly tasteless scene where Raimi wears the skin of one of his victims and then imitates him. It’s just. . .so very wrong, especially when he pulls off the skin from his hand like a glove and. . .gives it to a dog. The punchline, as it were, comes later in the film when we find out the dog died from eating some bad meat. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry or barf. Perhaps all three.
Aside from all that, though, I do have to give Skinner 3 out of 5 stars. I know I’m biased, but Raimi does give a pretty good performance, even though his character just so gee-whiz-gosh-darn nice it’s hard to see him as a killer. Ricki Lake does her best with the material and costume choices. Traci Lords is… Traci Lords. Watch it if you dare!