Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Larry Blamire, Fay Masterson, Andrew Parks, Brian Howe, Susan McConnell, Jennifer Blaire, Dan Conroy, Robert Deveau, Darrin Reed
Written by: Larry Blamire
Directed by: Larry Blamire
MPAA Rating: PG for brief mild language
Running Time: 90
Date: 09/01/2001
IMDB

The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra (2001)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Bone Tag

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Filmed in glorious black-and-white and "Skeletovision," Larry Blamire'ssporadically funny The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra pays homage to sciencefiction trash classics, specifically Ed Wood's Plan 9 from Outer Space(1959) and Phil Tucker's Robot Monster (1953).

A scientist (played by playwright-turned filmmaker Blamire) and his perky wife Betty (Fay Masterson) drive to a mountain cabin where they hope to locate and study a fallen meteor made of "Atmospherium." At the same time, a couple of aliens (Andrew Parks and Susan McConnell) crash-land nearby and need Atmospherium to fuel their ship. An evil scientist (Brian Howe) also wants the glowing rock to bring the title skeleton -- a normal laboratory model hidden in a cave -- back to life and rule the world. How he plans to do this is no clearer than how "plan 9" is supposed to work.

Meanwhile a dangerous mutant is on the loose. Inspired by Robot Monster's silly villain: a man wearing a gorilla suit topped off by a deep-sea diving helmet, it also loosely pays homage to King Kong.

Blamire attempts to re-create Ed Wood's singularly stilted dialogue, but just because Wood was bad it doesn't mean this is an easy job. No one else sounds quite like him, and trying to ape him can be just as difficult as trying to reproduce Shakespeare. In his attempt, Blamire keeps repeating single words during lines of dialogue and hopes that we will laugh at the joke again and again. He also relishes tossing in bad special effects and costumes, but for us, they're funny only at first glance.

Fortunately, Masterson -- a veteran of Sam Raimi and Stanley Kubrick -- turns in an appealing performance as Betty, while Jennifer Blaire plays a character called Animala, transmogrified via a ray gun from forest animals into a sexy girl wearing a Catwoman-like body suit. She does a nice job of incorporating her animal self into human form -- especially during a gratuitous dance sequence.

Wood and Tucker were able to tell their stories in about 65 or 70 minutes, whereas Blamire drags The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra out to 90 full minutes. It's a long haul, especially when he purposely lags the action in favor of more inane talk.

The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra almost wants us to take it seriously. As such, it feels less like a spoof and more like a copy of those 1950s films -- but without the innocence or nostalgia. As difficult as it may be to believe, Wood and Tucker were actually doing the best work they knew how under the circumstances, while Blamire deliberately sells himself short.

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