Toledo isn't exactly known as a mecca for filmmakers. But horror film writer-director Dustin Mills hasn't had any problem making movies. To date, the guy has released a handful of videos and films. He'll be in town with the cast to attend the screening of Skinless, which shows at midnight on Saturday at the Cedar Lee Theatre and at midnight on March 15 at the Capitol Theatre.
"It's an interesting town," he says of Toledo. "I don't think anyone here knows I exist. I have a sizable fan base, especially in foreign markets. I have fans in Japan and Belgium and Germany and throughout the U. K. I don't have any fans in Toledo. The thing I like is that I found great actors like Brandon Salkil and Dave Parker and that helps me bring the monstrosities to life."
In many ways, Skinless follows horror film conventions. After oncologist Peter Peel (Salkil) discovers a possible cure for skin cancer, he decides to test the cure on himself to convince an investor to start manufacturing the serum. Predictably enough, his experiment goes horribly awry and he turns into a "skinless" monster of sorts. Mills came up with the concept when he was working on another movie.
"There's a scene in that movie where a guy is exposed to a bath salt and he's all red and has no skin," he says. "My buddy who was playing the part put a mask on and was wearing a hoodie. He was being all creepy. We built a story that was a twist on the mad scientist story. It was about a guy who loses his skin and becomes a monster. But it was just born out of goofing around."
While the plot doesn't exactly have a lot of twists and turns, the characters are more developed than the stock ones you get in most B-movies.
"I just wanted to create characters the audience cares about," says Mills, who admits he prefers "fantastical stuff" to horror. "The reason you keep watching is that you want to know what happens to these people you like."