The Lost Skeleton Of Cadavra

A pitch-perfect parody of poverty row horror/sci-fi pictures of the 1950s, Larry Blamire's meticulous takeoff could easily be taken for the real thing, which is both its genius and its Achilles heel. In addition to being as charmingly silly as the films that inspired it, it also reproduces the inevitable dullness produced by murky photography, minimal action,...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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A pitch-perfect parody of poverty row horror/sci-fi pictures of the 1950s, Larry Blamire's meticulous takeoff could easily be taken for the real thing, which is both its genius and its Achilles heel. In addition to being as charmingly silly as the films that inspired it, it also reproduces the inevitable dullness produced by murky photography, minimal action, cheapo special effects and long stretches of expository dialogue. Scientist Paul Armstrong (Blamire) and his perky, bubble-headed wife, Betty (Fay Masterson), rent a cabin near the remote spot where a meteor recently landed. Nearby, Dr. Roger Fleming (Brian Howe) is looking for the fabled lost skeleton of Cadavra Cave, whose legendary power Fleming hopes to harness for his own ends. And in the nearby woods, two aliens from the planet Marva — Kro-Bar (Andrew Parks) and his wife, Lattis (Susan McConnell) — are taking stock after the emergency landing that damaged their spaceship and allowed their dangerous mutant to escape. Dr. Armstrong locates the meteor, which contains a substance called atmosphereum. Atmosphereum just happens to be what the skeleton requires to regain its strength and conquer the world — cue the power-mad skeleton laugh! — and the substance that powers Lattis and Kro-bar's spaceship. Dr. Armstrong, in turn, hopes his research into the nature of atmospherium will advance his scientific career. So everyone converges on the Armstrongs' cabin: Kro-Bar and Lattis awkwardly pose as regular Earth folks while Fleming secretly borrows their shape-altering "transmutatron" and changes "four different forest animals" into feral seductress Animala (Jennifer Blaire) to bolster his cover story. Adopting the relentlessly loopy logic of desperate screenwriters, Fleming reasons that it will seem more plausible that he's been stranded by a car crash if he's accompanied by his "wife," even if she's a total weirdo in a beat-girl unitard. The persistently polite Armstrongs ignore Animala, Lattis and Kro-Bar's peculiar behavior, but after local forest ranger (Dan Conroy) stops by with the news of a mutilation murder nearby, even they realize something very odd is going on. Blamire's poker-faced pastiche, which was shot in Bronson Canyon (a location whose otherworldly terrain was much-exploited by '50s genre filmmakers), is both affectionate and knowing, which makes it more fun than such smugly superior send-ups as DON'T ASK, DON'T TELL (2002). It was released with Ub Iwerks' inventive 1937 animated short Skeleton Frolics, which features seven minutes of highly inventive graveyard high jinks.

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  • Released: 2004
  • Rating: PG
  • Review: A pitch-perfect parody of poverty row horror/sci-fi pictures of the 1950s, Larry Blamire's meticulous takeoff could easily be taken for the real thing, which is both its genius and its Achilles heel. In addition to being as charmingly silly as the films th… (more)

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