Laura Clifford Robin Clifford
Dr. Paul Armstrong (writer/director Larry Blamire) and his wife Betty (Fay Masterson, "Eyes Wide Shut") make their way into the California Hills of countless bad horror/sci fi flicks in search of a fallen meteor containing atmospherium, stuff that 'could mean a lot of science.' Ensconced in the 'old Taylor place,' the Armstrongs will receive strange visits from Kro-Bar (Andrew Parks, "Donnie Brasco") and Lattis (Susan McConnell), stranded space aliens with a missing mutant (Darren Reed) in need of atmospherium to fix their ship and Dr. Roger Fleming (Brian Howe, "The Majestic"), another scientist who needs it to reanimate "The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra."
Larry Blamire wears his heart on his sleeve for the ridiculous B movies that Mystery Science Theater 3000 embraced, but while he often hits his targets dead on, "The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra" eventually grows tiresome. Camp is something that generally must just be - rarely is its purposeful creation successful.
That said, there are pleasures to be had here. While Blamire himself doesn't completely get into the spirit of things as Paul, the rest of his cast, save one, is delightfully adept at delivering his stupendously silly dialogue. Masterson is aces as a supportive Stepford wife who finds her each and every affectionate exchange with her husband the stuff of conspiratorial hilarity. On the flip side, she keeps a straight face playing Beauty to the Beast that is the Mutant, a three-eyed monster seemingly assembled from a rubber mask and kitchen accessories. Also excellent are Parks and McConnell channeling their inner Coneheads and Jennifer Blaire as a sinuous creature created from four woodland animals as a cover wife for Fielding (and can she dance!). Howe, however, is miscast, seeming more like a cwoodsy hiker than a buttoned-up lab man with a dubious agenda. In smaller roles, Dan Conroy as Ranger Brad displays the cheerful blandness of atomic educational shorts and Robert Deveau provides doom-laden directions as 'The Farmer' destined for horrible mutilation. The titular skeleton (as himself!) is a life size marionette supplied with a voiceover that interrupts the action like a high school principal over a PA system.
Blamire shows an enthusiast's knowledge of the cheesy effects, sets and models and retro genre music that he is spoofing, but "The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra" may have worked better as the pilot for a 1/2 hour series on the Sci-Fi Channel than as a feature. Still, this one could develop cult status with the MST3K crowd.
"The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra" is preceded by Ub Iwerks' 1937 "Skeleton Frolics," a nicely colored if not particularly memorable 10 minute short featuring after hours skeletal hijinks, mostly of the musical variety.
Robin did not see this film.
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