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The Skin I Live In: movie review

Almodóvar's latest film 'The Skin I Live In' is a black comedy that has shades of sci-fi and horror.

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Elena Anaya and Antonio Banderas attend the Cinema Society premiere of 'The Skin I Live In' on Thursday, in New York.

Peter Kramer/AP

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Pedro Almodóvar goes dark and deep and demented in “The Skin I Live In,” a black comedy that is even more perverse than usual for the Spanish director.

Antonio Banderas plays a famous plastic surgeon who has been developing a way of strengthening human skin using animal genes.

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Jeered by the medical community, he retreats to his mansion on the outskirts of Toledo, where he perfects his theories on the beautiful Vera (Elena Anaya), a woman, wrapped in a body stocking, who he keeps captive while performing experiments in his private operating theater.

Almodóvar has always had a flair for transforming Hollywood kitsch.

Here he mainlines sci-fi and horror.

You can pick out the many references to everything from “Frankenstein” and "Vertigo" to Georges Franju’s French horror classic “Eyes Without a Face.”

Almodóvar’s creepy derangements take too long to come into focus; the first half of the movie, especially, is unnecessarily confusing.

But it all achieves a loony unity by the end, even though what is being unified is not altogether palatable.

Grade: B+ (Rated R for disturbing violent content, including sexual assault, strong sexuality, graphic nudity, drug use, and language.)