Anyone who has been following Roger and I over the past year is fully aware of the fact that it takes quite a bit to impress me, when it comes to independent horror cinema. More often than not, I am left disappointed, wondering why I’ve wasted my time with yet another low-budget piece of crap. Lately, however, I’ve had some luck finding some real diamonds in the rough, including films by the likes of Ryan Nicholson (Collar), Lisa Palenica (Isis Rising), and a few others. With that said, I think my search is finally over for that one true indie masterpiece and that masterpiece is Dustin Mills’ Skinless.
Dr. Peter Peel is on the verge of a new medical breakthrough, one that could be the be-all end-all cure for cancer. He and his partner, Dr. Alice Cross, however, can’t seem to convince their investor to fund the project any longer. With no other viable options, Dr. Peel decides to skip animal trials and go straight for human testing, using himself as the guinea pig. His own case of cancer is cured, but not without some really awful side effects…
I can usually tell what kind of ride I’m in for, within the first few minutes of a film. I know some may find that hard to believe, but there is much to be told from the opening scenes of any movie. Right away, you can see the type of quality acting that is going to be presented before you. Gladly, I knew I was in for a treat because Brandon Salkil, who also happens to be a co-writer for the film, was fun and charming right off the bat. His witty sexual jokes and care-free attitude won me over instantly. He continued to shine throughout, transforming from the intellectual doctor, to the disturbed and confused loner, and finally, the creature who contained only an essence of his former self.
I’ve seen plenty of new filmmakers go for the throat with the amount of blood and guts they use in their films, hoping to skip all the important stuff just to have a higher score on the shock scale. With Skinless, things are much different. Director Dustin Mills has created a truly great experience filled with tons of gore, but also a coherent story. Speaking of the gore seen throughout the film, I have to say that it all looked rather marvelous. I’m assuming the budget wasn’t very high for this film, but the special effects looked amazing, nonetheless. Done with about 99.9% practical effects, this film, originally titled The Ballad of Skinless Pete, is one of the best looking indie films I’ve ever seen.
Skinless has it all — horror, sci-fi, and even a tragic love story. It is a modern-day ode to great films like The Fly (both original and Cronenberg version), while still remaining highly original and very entertaining. It doesn’t take long for the ‘action’ to begin and you will be immersed in the film for its entire 80 minute runtime.
In a past review, I referred to James Cullen Bressack as “a master of low-budget cinema.” While that still remains true, Dustin Wayde Mills may very well be the king. Not only did he direct the film, but he also co-wrote the script, edited it, produced it, and most surprisingly, scored it. There is virtually nothing the man can’t do and if his other films are anything like this one, I will highly enjoy myself as I run through his entire filmography.
Do yourself a huge favor and pick up a DVD copy of this film. It will officially be available from MVD Visual and Whacked Movies this Tuesday, November 18.
I give this film 4.5 dogs named Itchy out of 5.