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The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra

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Written and Directed by Larry Blamire

Nowadays, kids don’t have to watch a bad movie if they don’t want to. What with DVD players in their bedrooms, cell phones that work as walkie-talkies, game consoles, portable Internet access, and up to 500 channels on TV, they can now be entertained endlessly by many alternatives. If they don’t like a movie they’re watching, their limited attention spans and seemingly infinite choices keep them from having to suffer through it, but, dear reader, let me take you back to a previous century before every interest or hobby had a niche channel devoted to it on cable, back before you had to flip over a laserdisc to finish watching a movie, back to when the comforts of your bedroom had to be left behind if you wanted to steal music. It was an entertainment dark ages where the only ray of hope that shined were seven VHF channels and an odd assortment of UHF channels, oases in a desert of static and white noise, always shifting position as you changed towns. “What’s UHF?” you say. Be glad you have to ask. In those days, you had few, if any, choices as you turned the knob and endured what was dealt by the cruel fates and even crueler program directors.

But like so many species before us we learned to adapt and evolve. New synapses were formed in our brains and we discovered the perverse pleasure of watching a very bad movie. Our disappointment in not enjoying a movie gave way as we discovered the delight in “not” enjoying a movie. Noticing the flaws made you feel smarter and the ability to make others laugh moved you up a few pegs in other people’s estimation. It is a rite of passage into manhood, similar to the trials faced by many young men all around the world although this one is safer than circumcising yourself in the mountains during the first full moon after your thirteenth birthday. Like those first few facial hairs, this awareness was a sign to others that you were maturing; you knew bad art when you saw it and you could create comedy and joy from it. My friends and I would revel in watching movies like Terror of Tiny Town or Reefer Madness, laughing endlessly at the bad moments which covered all aspects of filmmaking, such as forgoing logic to get the story finished under 95 minutes, acting that was worse than grade school pageants, bad editing, bad effects, bad scenery, bad costumes, you name it. In every movie there was at least one chance to cry out, “That’s the worst _______ in the history of cinema.” We felt like gods looking down from the heavens.

Then we discovered that we weren’t alone, unless you were referring to girls. There were film geeks all over this great country of ours who began to stand up and make themselves known. Improv groups performed dialogue and commentary for bad movies, most notably horror and science fiction from the ’50s and ’60s. These films were given their own genre designation: Grade Z. Ed Wood is the most famous Grade-Z filmmaker, thanks in part to Tim Burton’s biographical film, but hard-core aficionados were well aware of Ed’s work before 1994. He had made Plan 9 from Outer Space, a legend in filmmaking incompetence. Some geniuses took the concept of making fun of bad movies and brought it to a larger audience with the long-running, cult TV series Mystery Science Theater 3000.

And now the next phase of that evolution has now taken place. No longer satisfied with being a viewer, Larry Blamire and his talented crew have become participants, making The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra, filmed in Skeletorama, The New Screen Wonder Of The Age! The filmmakers want you to believe that it is a recently recovered Grade-Z sci-fi movie, and it might as well be because the outcome is very funny, capturing the awful moments and horrible cliches of the genre. I haven’t laughed so hard and so often at a comedy in quite a while. This isn’t a parody where the actors give you that knowing wink, letting you know that they’re so smart and in on the joke. This talented ensemble plays it straight. There are some brilliant editing choices where the scenes are cut a beat too late. The music choices are very well chosen. The special effects that bring the Lost Skeleton to life are absolutely hysterical. A special mention goes to Blamire who performs a tour de force as actor, director and screenwriter.

The movie starts out with Dr. Armstrong and his wife as they go out into woods to locate a meteor made out of atmosphereum, a powerful source of energy. Two aliens from the planet Marva have landed on Earth and are out of power. They need a powerful source of energy to help them return to their home planet so they too search for the atmosphereum. Unfortunately, their pet, a mutant, has escaped the ship and is terrorizing the countryside. Meanwhile, an evil scientist, Dr Fleming, is trying to find the Lost Skeleton of Cadavra in an effort to bring it back to life so they can rule the world together. The skeleton has great mental powers and commands Dr Fleming to locate the atmosphereum because its power can bring the skeleton to life. To assist him in this evil plot, Dr. Fleming uses the aliens’ transmutatron on four woodland creatures, turning them into his trusted ally, a woman he names “Animala.” That’s all I will reveal because the film is such a treat to watch unfold.

Not only were my friend and I laughing as we discussed scenes after the screening and again a couple of days later, but after two weeks we were still quoting lines from the film and cracking each other up. Dialogue from this film will become part of my lexicon alongside lines from Caddyshack, A Christmas Story and others. My favorite scene takes place as the mutant is kidnapping the scientist’s wife; the actor in the rubber suit struggles and stumbles as he carries her off.

If you’ve never seen the films that are being satirized, you will probably think that’s this is just a bad film and won’t enjoy it, but I found this to be a comedic gem for the serious film fan. Destined to be a hit at midnight showings and college campuses across the nation. Bring some friends because if you go alone, you might not escape your encounter with {play dramatic music here} The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra.

The End

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About Gordon S. Miller

Gordon S. Miller is the artist formerly known as El Bicho, the nom de plume he used when he first began reviewing movies online for The Masked Movie Snobs in 2003. Before the year was out, he became that site's publisher. Over the years, he has also contributed to a number of other sites as a writer and editor, such as FilmRadar, Film School Rejects, High Def Digest, and Blogcritics. He is the Publisher of Cinema Sentries. Some of his random thoughts can be found at twitter.com/ElBicho_CS