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Directed by Christopher Alan Broadstone
Black Cab Productions

Death, it turns out, is a smug prick. In MY SKIN, he’s convincingly portrayed by Tony Simmons (a dead ringer here, in both looks and bellowing, growling voice, for a gaunt, tightly wound Vernon Wells), and he’s having a bad day. Seems this broken-hearted sap named George went and killed his estranged wife, fucking up the collection date Death had planned for her. She was supposed to go in the fall of 2032, and there she is, tits up, with a plastic bag over her head and blood splashed everywhere, 30 years ahead of schedule. Well, the surprisingly well-dressed grim reaper does not take this sort of indiscretion lightly. So he muddies up the murder scene with George’s fingerprints and other incriminating artifacts, all from the safety and comfort of his own office. Then he calls the fuckin’ cops on George.

All of this is evil enough, even for death, but he throws salt right into the gaping wound by calling George up and informing him of everything that just happened, and everything that’s about to happen. Like I said, he’s a prick.

My Skin is 13 minutes long, and it makes every second count. There must be a thousand cuts in here, and they all add to the mounting tension. It is a taut, flawlessly executed hellride that lingers in the dark rooms of your mind for a much longer period than it’s brief running time. It’s stunning, and seems even more so when you consider that it’s really just a goddamn phone call.

My Skin also boasts a killer soundtrack by composer Brian Sussman. "In the Moonlight", the end-credits song, sounds like a moonstricken Glyn Styler stumbling home from the traveling carnival after along night of drinking with the freaks. Perfect.

Also included here is another short, SCREAM FOR ME. Ok, nobody’s asking for a subtitle, but if they were, I think "When Psychos Collide" would do nicely. In this nail-biting lesson in intensity, a disturbed young fella (Gabriel Sigal) is choking some poor woman (Lora Cunnigham) to death in a lonely hotel room somewhere. For a fruitcake, he’s awfully psycho-analytical about his deviance, and as he strangles the women, he acts out his childhood anxieties about his sexed-up parents, providing a rambling, tear-choked narration that neatly explains how we’ve come to this wretched scenario. "Scream for Me!" he keep insisting of his semi-conscious victim. "Scream for me!" Fucker’s seen to many live Iron Maiden videos, I think. He digs his fingers deeper into her neck. "Scream for me!" Brother, you’re cutting off her oxygen- she can’t scream for you.

With a splintering crash, the door of the room slams open, and in stomps what at first appears to be a cop, but is actually an enraged redneck (Tony Simmons, unrecognizable from his My Skin role). Seems this guy wanted the victim- a stripper named Irene, it turns out- all to himself, and Mr. Mommy here is fucking up his night. Even worse then a mere cock-blocking, it turns out that Irene is no more, having finally succumbed to the vicious grip around her neck. Well, listen, mirrorshades here came for some fuckin’, and one way or another, he’s gonna get some. I don’t want to give away too much, but suffice to say, that skinny little bastard finally gets to hear some screaming. Too bad it’s his own.

Scream For Me harkens back to the glory days of the Cinema of Transgression, when all the way was the only possible direction to go in. It is wildly menacing and wholly unpleasant, and in a scant 22 minutes, packs enough violence and horror to satisfy even the most jaded death-tripper types among us. The fact that it does so without showing anything more explicit than some graphic choking and a very naked redneck is a testament to the formidable craftsmanship of Christopher Allen Broadstone. The set is a claustrophobe’s nightmare, the lighting is effectively murky, save for odd splashes of bright red and sickly greens, and the performances by Simmons is convincing enough to get you to check your locks after watching it, lest you find yourself being duck taped to the floor by some bleary eyed trucker with death on his breath.

And hey, just so you don’t get to thinking you’ve just seen a very arty snuff film, there’s a ‘behind the scenes’ featurette included, rife with missed cues, flubs, and queasy laughter. A nice, leavening touch to an otherwise pitch black collection.

I am sure I will not be the last to say it, but on the strength of these two stunningly effective shorts, it is clear that C.A.B. is a deranged genius, and if given the opportunity, he will most likely go ahead and make a full length film that will literally scare people to death. These two are certainly a good start. For fans of horror- or just fine (albeit envelope pushing) indie filmmaking, it’s a must see. Highly recommended.