The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra (2011)

Directed By: Larry Blamire
Written By: Larry Blamire
Starring: Larry Blamire
  Fay Masterson
  Brian Howe
  Andrew Parks
The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra

The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra is brilliantly created and genuinely amusing; occasionally it is laugh-out-loud hilarious and at other times awkwardly banal, creating a strange mix of cunning self-knowingness and utter stupidity. Not for everyone, this is a smart, quality piece of work.

1950’s B-Movies; they were diabolical. Crappy acting, appalling sets, senseless scripts and absolutely hilarious “monsters”. It is difficult to imagine anyone at the time found them terrifying or smart or awe-inspiring. But then I thought the original Tron looked realistic…

These archaic B-Movies of a dead era are laughable now, and ripe for the mocking. Whereas Scary Movie disrespectfully shat all over good and bad horror films alike, Larry Blamire attempts to lightly mock / lovingly homage this shoddy-but-loveable bygone B-movie, without being mean or disrespectful… and succeeds admirably.

The storyline is naturally bonkers. Scientist Dr. Paul Armstrong (writer / director Larry Blamire) and his wife Betty (Fay Masterson) are on holiday in a remote location, looking for a downed meteorite, which may contain the rarest of all materials; Atmospherium. Meanwhile the power-hungry Dr. Roger Fleming (Brian Howe) is searching for the mythical Lost Skeleton of Cadavra, which – if reanimated – would grant him endless power. Meanwhile again, a space ship crash lands and two alien travellers called Kro-Bar (Andrew Parks) and Lattis (Susan McConnell) find themselves stranded on Earth… and their mutant is missing.

When these three groups of people collide they quickly realize they all need the same thing; Atmospherium (incidentally, not Unobtainium – that’d just be f**king ridiculous). Our hero Dr. Peter Armstrong needs Atmospherium to “change the world for good”, our villain Dr Roger Fleming wants it to reanimate the evil Skeleton of Cadavra and Kro-Bar and Lattis need it to re-start their space shuttle and escape Earth. But who can win?! Faced with a mind-controlling corpse, an awkward dinner party, one giant fish-beast and four woodland animals metamorphosed into a woman wearing a onesy, it’s silly and hilarious stuff…

This is not for lovers of action or explosive Blockbusters and it’s not for those wanting their humour broad and offensive – this is made with an affection and gentle mockery that makes it immensely watchable and bizarrely sweet. It is deliberately shoddy, the continuity is terrible and the direction amusingly poor. The camera stays on close ups for a few more awkward seconds than necessary, the props look like something found in a skip outside Halfords and the “mutant” is a man wearing a shit carnival float. It’s brilliantly realized and superbly created. Some may find their attention wandering, but this is precisely what the 1950’s TV sci-fi movies were like – shown at some ungodly hour and watched by insomniacs and drunks, director / writer Larry Blamire perfectly recreates this long-dead style.

Essentially the success of this “homage / mockery” relies on the script and actors. Acting wise it’s a complete winner – they all play their roles perfectly, from the hilariously innocent Ranger Brad (Dan Conroy) to the obviously cannon-fodder Farmer (Robert Deveau), delving into their characters with the witless innocence of the source material… without a single knowing wink.

The script, however, is a mixed bag. The dialogue can be superb, rolling out lines like “You think the Earth people think we are strange, you think? It is strange how the ways of different people on different planets differ” and “I really think you could do with a break from all this scientist work; it’s almost as if you’ve been doing too much science”. Sometimes it can be repetitive and a little too obviously ridiculous, but mostly it’s smartly scripted and dryly delivered.

Only the voice of the Lost Skeleton of Cadavra itself betrays the film’s origins, mocking the other characters’ innocence and generally throwing out smart-ass comments instead of encapsulating the blinkered pomposity of the 1950’s B-movie bad guy.

Style often sacrifices substance in homage and spoof films and The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra is a rare example where style and substance are equal. Although it feels lacking in certain ways, it certainly works on a numbers of levels and will satisfy anyone with a solid sense of irony and a love of classic B-Movie sci-fi / horror. The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra is not for everyone, but it is genuinely very good. I look forward to The Lost Skeleton Returns Again

Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆

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