Always up for some good skin flicks, I never thought I’d be a fan of no skin flicks, but this was my kind of accidental double feature—two films about being terrorized by skinless beings! Let’s get right into Shed and Winterskin.
Shed is unlike anything you’ll see in horror these days, so if you’re bored with mainstream films and want a psychosexual otherworldly Halloween horror flick reminiscent of weird, low budget cult horror of the 1970s, I’d highly advise checking this one out.
I was immediately drawn in when a phone sex threesome is followed by an old guy dressed like Santa putting a “Keep Out” sign on his shed…right before having a bunch of young people over for a Halloween party.
That’s where the weirdness begins. I know I would never go to a Halloween party thrown by an old man with a fluffy white Santa beard. Oh…shit. I am the old man with a fluffy white Santa beard who throws Halloween parties.
Anyway, despite the Santa costume, this one lands in the Halloween section of my holiday horror page, not the Christmas section.
A choppy, trippy visual style and sustained suspense music give this film such an authentic gritty, dark, old school vibe that even the actors and their performances don’t feel contemporary.
Adding to the awesome oddness, Shed dares to unapologetically present a diverse group of weirdoes that likes partying with an old man, including a gay couple. They land the film on my does the gay guy die? page, but I wish they’d been in it more. Instead, the focus is on an interracial throuple having sex in a bedroom (2 girls, 1 guy). It’s like Ma with an edge.
Actually, it’s much more than that—and much different. It isn’t long before a couple decides to go out to the shed and see what’s inside. The film quickly establishes that whatever is in there needs skin…
If anything, I think Shed blows its load too soon then goes off on what feels like a drug-induced tangent. That definitely makes it unique, but it also puts an abrupt stop to the sense of dread and leads to rather repetitive and drawn out exposition. Don’t get me wrong. It’s still total insanity and delivers plenty of practical effects gore, it just starts to lose the sense of intrigue after a while.
Going into Winterskin I didn’t even realize it’s from Charlie Steeds, director of Escape from Cannibal Farm, but it’s not surprising considering it kept me just as enthralled. What’s fascinating about this film is that it could easily be presented on stage as a play, because it focuses specifically on two people trapped in a house in the snowy woods by a frightening presence outdoors.
As with Shed, Winterskin is also a little guilty of blowing its load too soon, for it shows us the skinless creeper in the kick ass opener. Of course, the foreplay also made me keep watching because I wanted to see more.
Next, a young man and his father hunting in the woods become separated due to the inclement weather. All that fur won’t help you now, daddy.
A woman who lives alone in a house in the forest takes the young man in for the night. Actress Rowena Bentley, who also starred in Cannibal Farm, seriously needs to become a household horror name. She’s fantastically witchy here and reminds me of a cross between horror queen Alice Krige and Jennifer Saunders of Ab Fab!
This crazy old bat is convinced something lurks outside the house at night—the skinless being we’ve already seen, of course. As she attempts to convince the young man of the threat on her doorstep, he suspects it’s more dangerous being stuck inside with her.
As their battle of wits rages on, the young man eventually sees for himself that there is indeed major validity to what the woman has been telling him. The segment when it finally infiltrates the house is so perfect that it reminded me of something right out of a Tales from the Crypt episode.
In fact, the entire story reminds me of a tale the Crypt Keeper might tell, and this easily could have been a 30-minute short. That’s not saying it runs too long, because it works just as well as is—and gets pretty damn gruesome, with quite a few surprises along the way.
If you’re looking for a different kind of double feature, both of these films are on Prime at the time of this writing.