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At the start of Skin Crawl my wife walked down to the screening room (the lonely basement where I am forced to watch my horror movies) and looked at the first few minutes of the film. As she stared at the quality of the film, she shook her head and said that it reminded her of a PBS Masterpiece theater episode. (Minus any good acting or interesting dialogue naturally.) She then proceeded to head back upstairs shaking her head up every step. The last words that she said was, "Have fun". Now, at first I agreed completely with her. The quality was reminiscent of a PBS film and frankly the story wasn't making me want to watch it with much enthusiasm. Little did she and I know though, at the end of this low budget horror flick, I did have fun. Hell, I walked right back upstairs as the credits rolled, knocked the sandwich out of her hand and proceeded to laugh in her face. She missed a movie, while not much in the overall story, that had style and a great simple EC comic feel to it. Frankly, Skin Crawl was pretty damn good.
The film opens with three sisters sitting in their little shanty of a house. In come some ugly looking lawmen and take the blond of the group out. They proceed to rape her (which is the point where my wife split) and end up killing her. After some time has past, the remaining two sisters sense that their missing kin is dead. One (played by scream queen Debbie Rochon) heads out to bury her poor beat up sis. Once back they decide to cast a curse to get revenge on anyone that hurts or kills them.
Flash forward to Debbie Rochon lying in bed. (A descendent of the first Rochon) She rolls over to her husband looking for a little action. After getting shot down for some ass, we take it that their marriage is on the rocks. That morning she tells her husband that they need to talk when she gets home. He thinks she's going to divorce him, but before she makes it home she is killed by two thugs. What follows is a series of the same events unraveling from different perspectives. We see the view from the killers, from the husband, from the mistress and so on. This all leads up to the "curse" that was done years ago, giving the power for our dear victim Rochon to come back for revenge.
On the surface this looks to be a very shallow and simple premise. Let's put it this way;
- Marriage on the rocks
- Wife gets killed
- Murdered wife comes back from grave to exact revenge
- Roll credits
In all reality the idea IS simple and shallow. It's nothing new. We've seen the same premise in Creepshow, Night Gallery, Tales From The Crypt and even numerous EC comics. It's what writer/director Justin Wingenfeld does with the simple premise that makes the film so fun. Seeing everything unravel from different perspectives was a blast. I wish I could say more, but there are a few twists and turns that I don't want to give away. The cover action doesn't take place until the last few minutes of the movie and frankly I could have cared less. The movie itself was great and a vengeful zombie is just an icing on the cake.
Now, while I enjoyed this, this wasn't a flawless piece. Like I (and my wife I guess) mentioned earlier, the quality is straight digital. This is very jarring at first, but I think you will get use to it. For film purists the digital camera looks too clean and nice no matter how hard Wigenfeld tries to gritty it up. I understand in the day that we live in digital is the way to go, but it will still bother some. After some time watching this though, you do forget about it a bit and get past the quality. With the acting there were no Oscar winning performances, but nothing that I could point out as annoying.
Another thing that bothered me was how pointless the beginning was to the story. After watching the film it seemed like such filler. When you think about it, who would make a curse for all decedents to come back from the dead to exact revenge? How bout' making a curse to not die. With that in mind, where is the other sister's descendents? Two sisters set the curse up, so are there other zombies getting revenge? Sequel maybe? Bottom line is it wasn't needed.
While I liked the simplicity of the story, some might find it way to shallow. The ending really doesn't come as any type of twist or surprise, but for me it was fun watching the despicable characters interact from different points of view leading up to the obvious conclusion.
Oh, one more thing to point out; the boobs. Now, I've tried to be as high brow as possible for this review, but in all reality a major can giver comes in the nudity department. Seduction Cinema's Julian Wells is topless in about every scene, and in my book that is not a bad thing at all. I'm sure wearing a bra was uncomfortable filming, so I'm glad to see that Wigenfield took that to heart and cared about his actor's well being, and let her act without one.
Again, an overall ambitious and impressive first time effort from Wigenfield. While nothing earth shattering, I had a pretty good time with Skin Crawl. It was simple, slight gore without being over the top corny and with the different viewpoints on the same situations Skin Crawl was given some style making this an easy 3 1/2 out of 5.
Added: Monday, March 26, 2007
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