Wednesday, February 7, 2024

The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra

I Sleep Now!

What's it about?

In honor of its 20th anniversary, tonight's nostalgic pic is "The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra" (Fragmighty/Transom Films/Valenti Entertainment, 2004). Dr. Paul Armstrong (Larry Blamire) and his wife Betty (Fay Masterson) are on their way to a rented cabin in the middle of the woods. His mission: To find a meteorite made from the radioactive element atmosphereum for the advancement of science.

"Do you know what this could mean for science? It could mean actual advances in the field of science!"

Meanwhile, another scientist named Dr. Roger Fleming (Brian Howe) is in the forest looking for the nearby Cadavra Cave, the rumored resting place of the fabled Lost Skeleton of Cadavra (Larry Blamire again), which it turns out can only be revived by a radioactive element, atmosphereum.
Our villain.

Keep an eye on that science kit.

Meanwhile, a couple of aliens from the planet Marva named Kro-Bar (Andrew Parks) and Lattis (Susan McConnell) crash land on Earth, with only one thing that can repair their ship: The radioactive element known as atmosphereum.
I'm getting serious "Plan 9 From Outer Space" vibes.

Meanwhile, the aliens' mutant (Darrin Reed) escapes their ship and begins terrorizing the countryside, and it is highly radioactive with atmosphereum.
Yes, it's as funny as it looks.

Meanwhile, using the aliens' technology, Dr. Fleming creates the femme fatale Animala (Jennifer Blaire) to help him infiltrate the Armstrongs' cabin to steal the atmosphereum.
She's made from four animals!

Who will get the atmosphereum? Will the Lost Skeleton conquer the world? I don't know. Oh well.

Some background

This film is writer-director Larry Blamire's love letter to the low-budget sci-fi horror schlock of the 1950s, and it is virtually indistinguishable from the "Z movie" offerings of the time. Filmed with his family and friends on a budget of almost nothing, and partially on location at Bronson Canyon in Griffith Park, Los Angeles, CA (a popular cheap filming location for B movies -- and a few episodes of "Star Trek") with an era-appropriate black and white film grain.

Family: Jennifer Blaire (Animala) is Larry Blamire's real-life wife.

The good

The real star of this film is the script; it's so utterly ridiculous and the dialogue so circular, it instantly evokes the overwrought, earnestly stupid screenplays of the 1950s. The performances and line delivery are all extra hammy and appropriately bad, very fitting for the material. Little touches like Animala's hypnotic go-go dance elevate this to one of the funniest movies of the 2000s.

The filmmakers really knew what they were working on.

The soundtrack is mostly canned samples from old films, which works quite well.

The bad

Not everyone will appreciate this movie, and its middling critical reviews can attest to that fact. There's no high action (actors are seldom put into precarious situations that would require stunt people), and the dialogue's repetitive nature and the slow pacing (things that are hallmarks of this genre) can get old expediently if you're not into it.

The pinnacle of Hollywood special effects: You WILL believe that a skeleton can walk!

There also seems to be a percentage of the population that can't stand watching black and white movies, and if you're one of them then you're not going to have a very good time. Oh well.

Relatively safe for kids

This film is PG for (completely bloodless) deaths and some extremely light innuendo.

The intense mutant v. skeleton fight might be too much for younger viewers (maybe probably).

It is probably quite fine to watch with young children, though the reason this film is so funny will probably fly right over their heads probably. Oh well.

Where can you find it?

I reviewed my DVD copy, but "The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra" is available to stream for free on Tubi, and is available to rent/buy from multiple providers including Apple TV, Amazon Prime, and YouTube/Google Play.

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