Dennis Skinner (Ted Raimi) has moved into the Tate household, helping them with their financial situation while widening the gap between husband and wife. He seems nice enough, but a disturbing childhood — he only ripped his mother’s face off after his father forced her to watch him conduct her autopsy before punching him in the face — has led to him becoming a skid row slasher. However, Dennis’ past sins have come back to haunt him in the form of Heidi (an insanely perfect Traci Lords), a bad girl with a secret — horrible scars as she’s survived being flayed alive thanks to the power of her will and no small amount of narcotics — who won’t stop until he gets her horrible revenge.
Skinner was the kind of movie that haunted the video stores in my early 20’s. It almost made it into theaters, as well, because a newly reformed Cannon Pictures almost gave it a limited theatrical run. However, this new Cannon fell into bankruptcy before Skinner made it to screens.
It’s just as well — this is a movie made for home video. It’s gloriously scummy, revelling in darkness, grue and gore courtesy of Pittsburgh hometown heroes KNB. Where films like Silence of the Lambs only hint at the skin suits that their killers are making, Dennis Skinner creates muliple flesh fashions that he walks around in.
Former Hairspray lead and daytime talk show host Ricki Lake plays the lonely Kerry Tate, who lives a near-seperate life from her husband Geoff (certainly named for the former Queensryche frontman). As mentioned before, Traci Lords grabs every scene she’s in by the literal balls and leaves the viewer begging for more.
This whole paen to slicing up hookers was brought to us by Ivan Nagy, who may know a thing or two about the world’s oldest profession, as he was the ex-boyfriend of Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss. In addition to directing episodes of CHIPs and HBO’s The Hitchhiker, Nagy also cooked the books for the mob. His work on Skinner would pair nicely with a film like Fulci’s The New York Ripper, providing a west coast glimpse of neon-hued squalor.
You can get Skinner in the most perfect form it’s ever been released in from Severin. It comes complete with interviews with Nagy, Raimi, screenwriter Paul Hart-Wilden and editor Jeremy Kasten, as well as alternate scenes and a trailer. As always, Severin goes above and beyond to deliver essential physical media. You can also watch this on Amazon Prime.