Autodidact: self-taught

Jan
02
2014

Skeleton, Inc.

by V. L. Craven

Skeleton, Inc.

Skeleton, Inc. was supposed to be a reality television series about the Villemarette family and their business, Skulls Unlimited International , but it was deemed too graphic and disturbing. Still, at least we get the pilot, in which they render a Barbary Lion from recently deceased carcass to a fully articulated skeleton. It’s pretty impressive. And not for the faint-of-heart or weak-of-stomach.

And if you think a fully-grown lion is scary, a skinned one looks like something Clive Barker wishes he could invent.

Skeleton, Inc.

See you in your nightmares.

In the show they don’t hold back–we see everything from the skinning process, where they remove the entire hide in one piece, to the disemboweling, the flensing (removal of muscle from bone), the boiling (the way you remove most flesh from bone) and Dermestid beetles  (the scavengers that will get whatever’s left after flensing and boiling). They also talk about the challenges of working with dead things in a place like Oklahoma, where the heat is trying to decompose your subjects as fast as possible. (If maggots bother you, be forewarned. Someone leaves something out in the heat and…it doesn’t go well.)

The only bit that got to me was the way the brains were removed, which involved a heavy-duty suction device and was not a pleasant thing to witness. As stomach-churning as that bit was, the machine was invented by the owner of Skulls Unlimited, Jay Villemarette, so I still had to admire the man’s ingenuity, you know, whilst holding down my lunch.

Skeleton, Inc.

Way to go, Jay! Now pass me a bucket.

The majority of the people featured were Villemarettes–there are three sons and then one daughter who works in the office with their mother. I was a little bummed out that the daughter wasn’t more into it, as it would have been fantastic if she’d been right up to her shoulder in lion entrails with her brothers, but perhaps that would have happened if the show had been picked up  for an entire series.

Also in the pilot episode the family had to repair a cracked Humpback Whale pectoral fin. They were clearly trying to inject some sense of urgency into the situation, which was a little awkward, but it was still interesting to watch people wrestle with something so massive.

There was only a little information on the actual company, but I would have been interested to learn more. There’s some info on the site, but it would have been cool to have a tour of the warehouse in the show, especially of all of the human skulls they have. They ship all over the world and have an incredible number of specimens, some one-of-a-kind, some educational reproductions of extinct species and all sorts of other things.

I highly recommend checking out the episode (I saw it on Netflix) and browsing around their site.

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