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Director: Larry Blamire
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The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra is a tough movie to review. The things that are bad or wrong about the film are deliberately so, emulating the famously-bad horror and science fiction films from the 1950s. Spoofs and parodies have a mixed history in film, especially spoofs of science fiction/horror. On the one hand, you have examples of great parodies like Spaceballs or Scary Movie (the first one, before they lost the plot), spoofs that know to pick the high-points of the movies they’re based on, discarding the rest. On the other hand, some parodies try too hard to retain the plot of the source material, forgetting the comedy (like Dracula, Dead and Loving It). Thankfully, The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra, while remaining close in tone and content to the genre of films it parodies, also manages to be very funny.
Everything about this film is deliberately amateurish, from the effects to the acting to the dialogue, and this is a big part of what makes The Lost Skeleton so funny. The funniest moments come from the dialogue, many lines (intentionally) unintentionally funny. Some examples: “My legs feel like two slow heavy things” or “Betty, you know what this meteor could mean to science. It could mean actual advances in the field of science.” This is great stuff and something you’d likely hear in classic 1950s horror/sci-fi.
The performances are a lot of fun, especially Animala (a woman made from four forest animals) and the Skeleton, a badly-manipulated puppet with clearly visible strings. All the actors are over-the-top, but what else would you expect? The one complaint I have about the film is that it’s occasionally too slow and some of the situations are too drawn out.
Someone happening onto this film, without knowing the context or history of science fiction, will likely be puzzled by the crudeness and low-budget nature of The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra. Fans of the genre, on the other hand, will have a lot of fun and find themselves quoting this film to bewildered friends.Colin Le Sueur