Reviewed by: Chris Monroe
Fay Masterson (Quantum Project, The Man Without a Face)
Brian Howe (Catch Me If You Can, K-Pax, The Majestic)
|Producer||F. Miguel Valenti|
Here’s what the distributor says about their film: “It’s 1961 and Dr. Paul Armstrong (Larry Blamire) and his lovely wife Betty (Fay Masterson) head into the mountains in search of a recently fallen meteor containing the rare element atmosphereum. Paul needs it to help him with his science work, but Betty’d just as soon have a vacation. Also in the area, sinister Dr. Roger Fleming (Brian Howe) asks trusty Ranger Brad (Dan Conroy) the whereabouts of Cadavra Cave, mysterious home to rumors of a legend of the Lost Skeleton.” That night, both parties witness what appears to be yet another meteor falling. Immediately after, a local farmer is killed by a horrible, unseen thing. Is there a connection? Indeed there is. The second meteor is actually a disabled alien spaceship with a strange couple from the planet Marva, Krobar (Andrew Parks) and Lattis (Susan McConnell). These aliens discover they also need Atmosphereum to power their really high tech ship, and notice their horrible pet mutant (Darrin Reed), which they travel around with for some reason, has escaped. Unfortunately, Dr. Fleming discovers he also needs the atmosphereum to bring to life the dreaded Lost Skeleton of Cadavra which he finds in the cave.
After the aliens disguise themselves as Earth people with the aid of their “transmutatron,” Dr. Fleming swipes it and morphs four different forest animals into his own ally—the beautiful cat-suited Animala (Jennifer Blaire). Now everyone’s after the atmosphereum and the Armstrongs find they have their hands full, capturing the mutant, stopping the evil scientist, and vanquishing the power-mad Skeleton who wants to rule the world.”
The “abra” of the cadaver of this bare-bones budgeted science-fiction parody, Lost Skeleton of Cadavra, is that it endows laughs to a field of bone-dry material using extreme tongue-in-cheek humor. As an embracingly “B” movie, it earns an “A” for authentic comedy and successful spoofing of its genre.
As the writer and director for this lampoon, Larry Blamire has cast himself as the lead character, Dr. Paul Armstrong, who goes out into the country with his wife Betty (Fay Masterson) to “do science.” They are in search of a meteor that has recently hit the Earth containing “atmospherium,” but run into conflict when another scientist Dr. Roger Fleming (Brian Cox), and two aliens from the planet Marva (Susan McConnell and Andrew Parks) are also on the hunt for this same cosmic element.
To caricature the texture and feel of these 1950s-type shows, certain rudiments of the science fiction genre are intentionally employed, namely black and white photography, overly stilted dialogue, bad acting and cheesy special effects. Even if one is not very familiar with all of the references, the jokes are so clearly done (sometimes over done) that anyone could still have fun and enjoy them.
Having committed to this style of movie and the dictates of this era of entertainment, there is also no foul language or nudity added. There is an episode where the Mutant (Darren Reed) attacks someone, but it is amusingly shot from his point of view and refrains from showing any of the actual violence. Another character, Animala (Jennifer Blaire)—created by Dr. Fleming with the alien’s “transmutatron”—entrances the scientist Paul with her “rock dance” in order to steal the atmospherium. But, again, it’s as risqué as anything from a 1950’s show.
To further exemplify the tone of this era, there is a moment where the scientist Paul is troubled and exclaims, “God have mercy on us all.” Like everything else, it is purposefully delivered with affectation. The plot itself also adheres to the convention of the genre and finishes off with a simple, moral message.
The speech of the aliens is reminiscent of the kind of humor found with the Coneheads from Saturday Night Live and the atypical comedy of this piece—like that of Waiting For Guffman—is a refreshing break from more safe, commercialism too often used in cinema. Perhaps it’s not worth paying full price, but if you need a good, clean laugh, it’s worth at least the cost of admission at a matinee.
Violence: Minor | Profanity: None | Sex/Nudity: None