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The 1990 Horror Skinned Alive: Gets Under Your Skin

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BY October 24, 2020
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There are some horror movies out there that don’t give anything away with their titles. I’m talking about movies like Midsommar or The Lodge. And then there are movies like the 1990 horror Skinned Alive. You pretty much know from the beginning what you’re going to get. But what else is there?

A Brief Plot Summary of the 1990 Horror Skinned Alive

Crawldaddy (Mary Jackson), who, despite the moniker is actually a woman, is the matriarch of an unusual family. Together with her children, Phink (Scott Spiegel) and Violet (Susan Rothaker), they travel the country peddling their fine leather goods. I’m sure you can guess from the title which animal they procure their leather from. Anyway, they’re somewhere in rural Ohio, busy practicing their trade, when their van breaks down.

However, mild-mannered Tom Miles (Lester Clark) and his wife Whinnie (Barbara Katz-Norrod), offer them shelter. That’s lucky for Crawldaddy and clan, but unlucky for the Miles family. All is not lost–or skinned alive–though. The Miles’s neighbor, Paul Hickox (Floyd Ewing, Jr.) is a cop. Well, he was a cop. Now he’s mostly an alcoholic. He’s able to put together what Crawldaddy and her kids are using to make their goods, but will he be able to stop them?

To find out, you’ll have to stay tuned for the climax of the film, when Hickox and the family meet in a violent confrontation. There will be blood, but there’s a lot of blood on the way, too.

Whose Idea Was This?

Jon Killough directed the movie, with a script he wrote with Mike Shea. This movie is his only directing credit, although he would go on to write 1992’s Galaxy of the Dinosaurs. And Killough didn’t just direct the movie; he had a hand in multiple departments. For example, he did production design, he operated a camera, he edited the movie (and did additional editing), and also handled the sound effects as a foley artist. And as if that weren’t enough, he appears in the film as “The Hitchhiker.”

As for the actors, they’re a varied bunch. Mary Jackson, who played Crawldaddy, is probably best known for her role as Emily Baldwin on the homespun classic series The Waltons. As for Susan Rothacker, she has only one credited role after this. It appears that she went on to a career outside of show business. Scott Spiegel, on the other hand, continued appearing in films. Thanks to a high school friendship with director Sam Raimi, Spiegel appeared in most of Raimi’s films. He’s also become a film producer, forming the company Raw Nerve with director Eli Roth and Boaz Yakin. Raw Nerve’s produced such movies as Roth’s own Hostel.

Audience Comments for the 1990 Horror Skinned Alive

As the title indicates, this is not a subtle movie. It’s what we’d call “trash horror,” actually. So viewers know what they’re going to get. But do they like it? Well, it depends. Many folks didn’t like it. They had the usual complaints you see with low budget horror–bad acting, bad jokes, etc. It seems like an homage to Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre that a horror movie fan made and that’s probably what it is. However, it doesn’t quite hit the mark or achieve the highs of its inspiration. On the other hand, though, if you like gore and bloody special effects, then this might be a movie for you. Multiple folks mentioned the gore, either as a selling point or just a point of notice.

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Salomé Gonstad is a freelance writer who grew up in the swampy wilds of south Alabama. She now splits her time between the Appalachian wilds (of Alabama) and the considerably more refined streets of New York City. When she's not yelling about pop culture on the internet, she's working on a supernatural thriller about her hometown. Also, we're pretty sure she's a werewolf. Email her at

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