Skinned Alive: Ultimate Edition (1990) (Tempe Digital) Blu-ray Review + Screenshot Comparisons


Tempe Digital is at it again, bringing us one of the all time classics in the form of Skinned Alive. This Ultimate Edition is packed with special features along with a brand new 2K scan that will make fans drool. 

Studio: Tempe Digital
Release Date: February 1990 (video premiere) / September 15th, 2020 (blu-ray)
Run Time: 81 mins
Region Code: FREE
Picture: 1080p (1.33:1 aspect ratio) (original aspect ratio), 1080p (1.78:1 aspect ratio) (cropped version)
Sound: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English Dolby Digital 5.1, Thai Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English and Spanish
Slipcover: Yes
Digital Copy: No
Starring: Mary Jackson, Scott Spiegel, Susan Rothacker, and Floyd Ewing Jr.
Written by Jon Killough
Directed by Jon Killough
Rating: Not Rated (strong graphic violence, graphic nudity, language, and some drug use)

THE FILM




Crawldaddy and her two kids have been traveling cross-country selling fine leather apparel when their van breaks down in a small town in Ohio. Tom and his wife decide to put them up for the weekend. However, their neighbor Paul, a disturbed ex-cop and a drunk discover that Crawldaddy's dysfunctional backwoods family has been killing people and skinning them alive to make their leather goods! Crawldaddy and her kids continue to find victims while fighting amongst each other (utilizing an impressive combination of vulgar yet hilarious insults), meanwhile Paul's personal life spirals out of control. It all builds to a final climactic confrontation.

I worked in the video store industry during the 2000s. Starting at Hollywood Video before moving on to Blockbuster, I lived movies for almost an entire decade. There were a ton of VHSs, DVDs, and Blu-rays that passed through my stores but one always stood out: SKINNED ALIVE.

The film, which was released on VHS in 1990, saw a new lease on life in 2002 with a brand new remaster to usher in the film to a new generation. This film, however, always eluded me. It was always rented out and by the time it would come back in stock, there were five other films that vied for my attention.

Thankfully, Tempe Digital decided to remaster the film for the blu-ray crowd which will hopefully introduce the film to a new crowd. 

So, was the film worth the wait? Yes and no. I am always thankful to see a film that I have never seen before from filmmakers I respect. I have loved the previous Tempe Digital blu-rays and I figured that this would be no different. 

The film is kind of a mixed bag. The biggest draw to the film are the three bad guys. These guys (or is it gals and a guy) are ruthless and they are entertaining as hell. The leader of the group, Crawldaddy, is so memorable that we really want to see another film with her in it. 

The gore is great as well. I wasn't sure if the film would actually have at least one person skinned alive (there are tons of films where the title is just an outright lie) but the film lives up to its title and so much more. I was actually very impressed with much of the effects work here with an effect or two not working as the filmmakers had planned. 

The film looks good too. There tons of films out there that look like they were shot through a trah bag but SKINNED ALIVE actually looks good. Shots are framed fairly well with the director knowing how to shoot his actors. There is a chase scene through a cornfield that I really liked. 

I did not like our hero, though. I thought he was very bland and not someone we want to root for. It’s not that he is a bad guy or anything like that. He is just so plain that we don't care about him. He doesn't do anything to win us over. 

The film also feels long. It runs 78 minutes or so but feels much longer than that. The pacing seems a bit off and I wonder if there were any scenes that could have been added or deleted to help the flow of the film. 

SKINNED ALIVE is still a film worth checking out, despite my misgivings. The gore is on point as are the performances from the three villains. I did like most of the film with the only negatives being the blandness of the hero and the pacing. 

THE PICTURE AND THE SOUND




SKINNED ALIVE was given a new lease on life with a fresh 2K from the 16mm A/B roll cut negative film elements. The 1.33:1 frame picture looks great. There are some great colors on display here with everything feeling very natural. Skin tones are accurate and detail is nice. This presentation is very pleasing. 

The widescreen (1.78:1) version that is included as a bonus disc (BD-R) has all of these improvements but is slathered with DNR. The picture does not look good and I was disappointed with this until I realized that this version was made for people who don't care about OAR and HATE film grain. Bookwalter has done this with THE DEAD NEXT DOOR and ROBOT NINJA and I get why he did it. It’s a shame that he had to do to boost sales but that is how the world works now. No one wants to wear a mask and they still hate the black bars.

The film’s soundtrack is presented in both 5.1 and it sounds good. Dialogue is crisp and clean and the film’s score comes through very well. 

There are also subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing in English and Spanish.

SCREENSHOT COMPARISONS 


Original 1.33:1

Cropped 1.78:1

Original 1.33:1

Cropped 1.78:1

Original 1.33:1

Cropped 1.78:1

Original 1.33:1

Cropped 1.78:1

Original 1.33:1

Cropped 1.33:1

THE PACKAGING 



THE MENUS 


Blu-ray 


THE FEATURES


Disc 1: 2020 Restored Version

Audio Commentary by writer/director Jon Killough, moderated by Tempe Historian Ross Snyder of Saturn’s Core Audio and Video

Audio Commentary by producer J.R. Bookwalter and make-up effects artist David Lange

Carving Up 30 Years of Skinned Alive (16m 11s, HD, 1.78:1)

Call Me Daddy You S#!tHead: Remembering Mary Jackson (10m 20s, HD, 1.78:1)

Prissy Boy Phink: The Scott Spiegel Interview (8m 2s, HD, 1.78:1)

2020 Location Tour (5m 7s, HD, 1.78:1)

Restoration Grindhouse (9m 11s, HD, 1.33:1)

Still Galleries:

                -Artwork and Promotional Gallery (5m 24s, HD)
                -Behind the Scenes Gallery (5m 4s, HD)
                -Production Stills Gallery (7m 8s, HD)

Trailers:

                -Skinned Alive (1m 57s, HD, 1.78:1)
                -Robot Ninja (1m 25s, HD, 1.78:1)
-The Dead Next Door (1m 47s, HD, 1.78:1)
-Platoon of the Dead (1m 15s, HD, 1.78:1)
-Poison Sweethearts (1m 31s, HD, 1.78:1)

Disc 2: Original 1990 VHS Version

Audio Commentary by Doug Tilley and Moe Porne of The No-Budget Nightmares Podcast

Roommates:

-Episode 1 (24m 24s, SD, 1.33:1)
-Episode 2 (31m 2s, SD, 1.33:1)

1987 Joy Circuit Music Video (5m 56, SD, 1.33:1)

Cut to the Bone: Dissecting the Making of Skinned Alive ()

Behind the Scenes (7m 13s, SD, 1.33:1)

Camera and Wardrobe Tests (11m 3s, SD, 1.33:1)
About the 2002 Remastering ()

Original 2000 Trailer ()

Trailers:

-Ozone
-Kingdom of the Vampire
-Zombie Cop
-The Sandman
-Polymorph
-Bloodletting

Disc 3: Widescreen Version of SKINNED ALIVE

This version of the film is the same as the one found on disc 1, but is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio so that the image fills (mostly) a widescreen tv. I have talked about this version of the film in THE PICTURE AND THE SOUND portion of the review. This disc was included as a bonus for those who preordered the blu-ray from Makeflix.com.

Disc 4: The Soundtrack

Here we have the film’s (almost) complete soundtrack with the score portions being handled by Bookwalter while the songs are handled by various artists. Every track here sounds really great and is a welcome addition to the SKINNED ALIVE collection. This cd was offered up as a discounted item for those who preordered the blu-ray. This cd is available separately on Makeflix.com.

So these are some damn fine special features. My favorite is Restoration Grindhouse where Bookwalter talks about the 2K restoration that SKINNED ALIVE received and it is really interesting. Bookwalter has done featurettes like this before on his previous blu-ray releases, but they are always welcome additions to the special features line up. The retrospectives are very nicely done too as are the interviews. We also get two episodes of a cable show that aired in Ohio which was something that I was not expecting and the episodes here are interesting. 


THE WRAP-UP 




SKINNED ALIVE is an uneven TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE style horror film. The film is way gorier than the original TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, but lacks its style and grace. The film contains some great performances and gore but falls flat when it comes to the character we are supposed to be rooting for as well as its pacing. The blu-ray is wonderful, though. The picture and sound quality are really spectacular and the special features package is more than worth the price of admission. JR Bookwalter threw in some really great bonuses for those who preordered the blu-ray and this made the whole thing more enticing. 

THE SCREENSHOTS 


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