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    The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra

    Old skull

    "The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra" is a sendup of 1950s B horror movies whose affection for the genre could send you on a fun research trip to your video store.


    Just as its title suggests, "The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra" is a silly movie, on purpose. Writer/director/star Larry Blamire parodies with obvious affection the sci-fi creature features that were so popular in the 1950s. He cheerfully cribs from the highs ("It Came from Outer Space"), the lows ("The Man from Planet X"), and the lowest ("Robot Monster"), not condescending to the genre, but not aiming to make an appreciably better film, either. The result is a black-and-white comedy that is fitfully funny, and — like a lot of the B-movies that inspired it — about a reel too long.

    Written and directed by: Larry Blamire.
    Cast: Fay Masterson, Andrew Parks, Susan McConnell, Brian Howe, Jennifer Blaire, Larry Blamire, Dan Conroy, Robert Deveau, Darren Reed.
    Cinematography: Kevin F. Jones.

    Related links: Official site
    To his credit, Blamire, who is also a playwright and painter, gets the movies he lampoons. He understands the conventions; even better, unlike some of the screenwriters of the B's, he also knows a thing or two about scene construction. As the film's lead, suave Dr. Paul Armstrong, he plays The Scientist, the heroic man of knowledge, progress and reason at the center of the story. The banalities he exchanges in the opening shots with his perky wife Betty (Fay Masterson) as they motor through a California landscape (Bronson Canyon, a favored location for B directors) neatly encapsulate a decade's worth of mumbo-jumbo that somehow passed as the "scientific" setup for nearly every plot. Armstrong has tracked a meteor that landed close to their cabin in the woods. The rock contains the extremely rare element "atmosphereum," which he knows could greatly benefit mankind and lead to "actual advances in the field of science."

    The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra  
    Also on the trail of the elusive substance are three others — well, three and a half, if you count the skeleton — including an alien couple, Krobar and Lattis (Andrew Parks and Susan McConnell), in need of atmosphereum to repower their crippled spaceship. They join forces with greedy Evil Scientist Dr. Roger Fleming (Brian Howe), who does the bidding of the legendary long-lost Skeleton of Cadavra that he has found conveniently in a nearby cave. The Skeleton requires atmosphereum to regain his powers and fulfill his plans for worldwide domination. In between issuing imperious demands, he likes to nap.

      The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra
    The movie begins to get genuinely funny with the arrival of its femme fatale, who is quite literally a sex kitten. Dr. Fleming realizes he can't attend dinner at the Armstrongs — and get access to the meteor in Paul's study — without a date, so he uses the aliens' handy gizmo, the transmutatron, to reconfigure the molecules of forest wildlife into the beguiling Animala (Jennifer Blaire). Looking like one of the Hollywood Cover Girls from "Cat-Women of the Moon," Animala slinks, purrs and upstages everyone when Fleming presents her as his beatnik girlfriend Pammy. The aliens, too, have adopted human-like disguises, and the scene where the three couples sit down to dinner provides the film's most extended laughs.

    There's also a Mutant (actor's name withheld out of consideration for his artistic sensibilities).

    "The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra" could have been funnier if Blamire and his game co-stars hadn't been so enamored of what was bad about the Fifties B's: shots that are held too long, hammy outbursts that break the mood, and too much screen time devoted to unbelievably cheesy monsters. Just replicating these flaws doesn't necessarily generate giggles; a more antic sendup, like in "Matinee," or a better articulated point of view, like in "Ed Wood," simultaneously tap into nostalgia and provide entertainment in their own right. But Blamire clearly shows promise, and if his feature debut sends audiences to video stores in search of titles like "Invaders from Mars," "Earth Vs. the Flying Saucers," or "Attack of the 50-Foot Woman," he may very well have laid the groundwork for an out-of-this-world sequel.

    FEBRUARY 20, 2004

    Reader comments on The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra:

  • Hah ;)   from Kuba, Aug 11, 2004
  • [no subject]   from charlie whisner, Sep 1, 2004
  • Lost Skeleton   from Katie, Nov 25, 2004
  • Thumbs up   from Dan, Dec 22, 2004
  • The little guy   from Jozeph, Apr 20, 2005
  • Rower!   from Berk, Dec 2, 2005
  • Follow up Film to Skeleton!!   from Lucky Girl, Jan 21, 2006

  • Post a comment on "The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra"