The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra

It's easy to make a bad movie. It's harder to make a good movie, and arguable more difficult to make a "good" bad movie, which is precisely what The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra is. It is a goofy send-up of old-fashioned, low-budget science fiction films, the kind that were skewered on Mystery Science Theater 3000. This is the kind of movie that literally looks like a bunch of people got together one afternoon when they were bored and filmed this. Writer/director Larry Blamire does a remarkably good job of making this movie fun, full of hammy acting and obtuse dialogue.

Blamire doubles as Dr. Paul Armstrong, a scientist in the pursuit of "science." He and his wife Betty (Fay Masterson, Venus and Mars, Eyes Wide Shut) are off for the weekend in a cabin. A meteor has crashed nearby, and Paul hopes it contains atmospherium, a rare element that will contribute much to "science." Little does he know that Kro-Bar (Andrew Parks, Donnie Brasco, The Mirror Has Two Faces) and Lattis (Susan McConnell), two aliens, have crash landed on Earth. They need atmospherium to repair their ship. They also lost a mutant, who is presumably behind a horrible mutilation.

To finish off the party is the evil Dr. Roger Fleming (Brian Howe, Catch Me If You Can, The Majestic), who is searching for atmospherium to bring the lost skeleton of Cadavra to life. He steals a device from the aliens that allows him to change four forest animals into Animala (Jennifer Blaire). Oddly enough, everybody ends up inside the cabin for dinner. The story makes no sense whatsoever, which is precisely Blamire's aim. The acting is stilted, and the big laughs come from the loopy dialogue (the lost skeleton is something of a smart-ass).

Sadly, Blamire's story runs out of steam partway through. It is funny watching this, but the script loses its inspiration about halfway through, and then the laughs come intermittently. This shouldn't detract much from the film, since coming up with a full-length feature on such a flimsy premise is quite a feat, and the plusses of The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra outweigh its minuses. The best part is the game group of actors, willing to make themselves look and act ridiculous for the sake of the film. This includes bad dancing, scenes of laughing that go intentionally long, and an all-around epidemic of ditziness. Once the skeleton comes to life, it's up to the good guys to save the day, capped off with one of the more bizarre fight sequences in recent memory. The special effects are equally low budget, usually accomplished with camera tricks. When the skeleton walks, a few times it's because Howe is holding it. When it crawls, one can see the strings moving it's limbs, and when it's seated and gesticulating, a pair of hands appears just at the edge of the screen, holding more strings. It's all done on purpose, and evokes a nice feeling of nostalgia. It's a nice, cheesy diversion.

Mongoose Rates It: Not Bad.
1 hour, 30 minutes, Rated PG for brief mild language.

Back to Movies