|Even the movie poster spoofs old movies!|
Hollywood has produced some truly abysmal movies that no one in their right mind should ever have watched. Indeed without comedic commentary, such as from the guys at RiffTrax, many movies would be completely unwatchable. Sci-Fi/Horror B-movies of the 1950's were particularly bad. In 2001 an independent film was released spoofing these 1950's era bombs. The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra captures the feel of those cinematic atrocities while also making fun of them.
Dr. Paul Armstrong (Larry Blamire) is a scientist studying alien rock formations that have crashed on earth. When Armstrong and his wife Betty (Fay Masterson) learn that a cache of Atmospherium, a radioactive mineral found in meteorites, has been found in the desert, they set out to find it. But they've got competition. Dr. Fleming (Brian Howe) a rival scientist is also after the Atmospherium and plans to use the high-powered substance to bring a cave-dwelling creature back to life. Meanwhile, Lattis (Susan McConnel) and Kro-Bar (Andrew Parks) are aliens from the planet Marva who have crash-landed on Earth and need the Atmospherium to get their spacecraft back into the air. Hoping to foil the plans of Dr. Armstrong, and aware of the arrival of the aliens, Fleming steals a "Transmutaron" from Kro-Bar that allows him to create Animala (Jennifer Blaire), a sultry neo-beatnik who will crash the Armstrong's cocktail party and sow seeds of marital discord between Paul and Betty, making it easier for Fleming to recover the valuable rock formation and revive The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra.
The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra is every bit as corny and cheesy as it sounds. We've got aliens, killer mutants, evil scientists, a cursed skeleton, and a wanton woman made out of a combination of animals. There's just about every terrible 50's B-movie trope you can think of in this movie. It's got such a classic B-movie quality to it that you'd never have guessed it was made in 2001.
I looked up the actors in this movie on IMDB.com, and it turns out that many of them have been in major motion pictures. They aren't inexperienced actors, but you wouldn't really know that from watching this movie. Here, they are actors portraying characters who are supposed to be depicted by bad actors from old Sci-Fi/Horror flicks. They do it so remarkably well; it's uncanny! That's certainly a indication that these actors are good. They perfectly emulate a ridged, forced, and laughable acting style and manage to spoof it to the point that their delivery is hysterical.
What really sells this movie is the script. It's beautifully written and is positively saturated with irony, redundancy, and illogical dialogue. The lines themselves sound flat out stupid, but in the hands of these actors it makes them sound very funny. Here's a line from Dr. Armstrong early in the movie: "Seriously, Betty, you know what this meteor could mean to science. If we find it, and it's real, it could mean a lot. It could mean actual advances in the field of science." I don't know how Blamire manages to keep a straight face during delivery of that kind of dialogue. The whole script sounds a lot like that. I'll include the trailer at the end of the review so you can see some of it in action. The female characters in the movie are all conform to 1950's gender roles. Betty in particular is incredibly stupid and can't seem to wrap her mind around anything that doesn't involve fixing dinner or making martinis for her husband. This is done with a great deal of irony about 1950's gender roles, not to be condescending to women.
The special effects department must have had a pretty easy job. The effects were so perfect. They beautifully emulated the visual effects from the old B-movies. There were poorly drawn raygun bolts, miniature spaceships flying around on strings, and a big rubber monster costume. Admittedly I was disappointed that a zipper was not visible on the back of the monster. Even the music and title sequence was magnificently done! It was so campy and cheesy. It just looked so much like an old movie that it was actually impressive. It was even shot in black and white!
While the jokes and satire are prevalent, the joke does start to get old after a while. The redundancy in the dialogue is funny, but eventually starts to feel like it's delivering the same punch line over and over. Towards the end the movie starts to drag a bit.
The Lost Skeleton of Cadavrais a fun movie, an outstanding satire, and a great spoof of 1950's Sci-Fi/Horror B-movies. Having said that, I think this is only going to appeal to people who enjoy campy movies, have a fondness for old B-movies, or have a very weird sense of humor. If you don't fall under any of those categories, you'll probably just find it irritating. I recommend watching this sometime. It's currently (as of publishing this) on NetFlix Instant Play. What have you got to lose?
Here's the trailer, you really must watch this:
Here's the trailer, you really must watch this:
Do you have a favorite old black and white 1950's Sci-Fi/Horror B-movie? I got a kick out of Teenagers From Outerspace. Comment below and tell me about yours!