Shock-O-Rama has always made me nervous. Usually, that glaring half-face logo is stamped onto some of the worst films I’ve ever had the displeasure of witnessing. Trite, tawdry little nightmares of blood-soaked story-deficient slop–this is generally what comes pouring out of Shock-O-Rama Cinemas in no small quantities.
And this time looks to be no different. Pulling up that standard threadbare bogey of persecuted witches who call down a curse on the overbearing Christian folk of the town they live in (like that old saw hasn’t been done to death by now?), we fast forward three hundred years to watch the curse come to fruition. The curse targets itself on the husband of one of the witches’ descendents as he plots to kill her to inherit her family’s wealth. The curse, meanwhile, carries itself out in the form of some really big and poorly realized monstrousity that kills just about everything it comes in contact with.
Even worse, for crying out loud, can we STOP the whole “evil corrupt Christian persecution of the noble, gentle and misunderstood paganists” plotline already? Just once I’d like to see the guys in the pointy hats replaced with Muslims or Mormons or something, just for variety’s sake if nothing else. That’d be interesting, at least–bunch of Jehovah’s Witnesses marching on the witch coven, screaming “Read the ‘Watchtower’, or I’ll chop your legs off!”
“Skin Crawl” also features probably the most awkward gang-rape scene I’ve seen in some time, looking for all the world like…like a bunch of bad actors playing out a rape scene. What acting graveyard did they dig these relics out of?
Falls in slow motion, muggers who stab their victims with no change in facial expression…”Skin Crawl” actually manages to get worse as it rolls along. At one point, the film actually–on camera, no less!–rewinds itself to an early scene and starts the narrative all over again, this time adding extra footage. I’m almost ashamed of this blatant use of filler. What’s worse is they’ll actually do it several times over the course of the movie!
I call it filler for a good reason–the net effect is that they gain runtime. Once you factor out the extra plot repetition, you lose about five minutes of runtime. And for a seventy-five minute movie, five minutes is an eternity.
Our sandwich of bad movie, with cheesy acting sandwiched between slices of stale plotline, continues on with truly rotten special effects. Monsters executed in an indelicate combination of CG that looks like it was whomped up on a twelve year old’s home computer and horrible costuming (check out what I can only guess is the burn makeup on our lead evil Christian’s face) make for a perfectly rancid result.
The ending, home to the only other deaths in the film, is almost pathetically out of place with the rest of the film. For crying out loud–other than the “witches’ descendant”s death–shown at least three times that I can remember–no one else manages to die until fifteen minutes are left on the clock. Son of a bitch…how does any self-respecting horror movie manage to go THIS long without any deaths?
The special features include a commentary track, cast and crew interviews, and trailers aplenty for: “Bacterium”, “Creature From the Hillbilly Lagoon”, “Chantal”, “Skin Crawl”, “Chainsaw Sally”, “Sinful”, “Shock-O-Rama”, “Feeding the Masses”, “Prison-A-GoGo”, “Bite Me!”, “Screaming Dead”, and “Suburban Nightmare”.
Yipes! Just, yipes. A cheesy, godawful little nightmare that proves that the rare hit from Shock-O-Rama proves that lightning can strike anywhere once. But much more than three times and you’re straying into really unlikely territory.