Movie Review: The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra
FILM REVIEW: THE LOST SKELETON OF CADAVRA
By Robert K. Elder
Chicago Tribune Staff Writer
The first and only commandment of parody filmmaking is: Thou must be funnier than that which you lampoon. The makers of "The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra" can't quite live up to the 1950s-era B-movies that they parody.
But like all B-movies (or in this case, pseudo B-movies), "Skeleton" contains sparkling moments of promise and camp performance.
The scattered plot doesn't matter much. It involves a scientist (writer/director/star Larry Blamire) and his wife (a sharp Fay Masterson) searching for an obscure element, for an equally obscure reason. Meanwhile, aliens (Andrew Parks and Susan McConnell) crash-land on Earth, and their wild, flesh-eating pet escapes. A greedy, unrelated scientist (Brian Howe); his transmogrified Penthouse Pet, Animala (Jennifer Blaire); and a mystical, mind-controlling skeleton push things further amok.
Blaire (also Blamire's wife) pulls the rug out from anyone she shares a scene with as the comically feral she-beast. Dressed in a black body stocking, her performance and costume are nods to Arthur Hilton's 1953 cult favorite "Cat-Women of the Moon." Try not to laugh when she turns out an over-pronounced, lioness-like "row-oar."
Camp works best when unintentional - when there's a degree of earnestness splashed across the screen. In fact, one of the working definitions of camp is "a movie so bad that it's good." "Skeleton," a bad movie spoofing bad movies, doesn't work.
Part of the problem lies in the wink-wink posturing of the performances. "Skeleton" never quite escapes that "let's put on a spoof" aura that "Evil Dead 2," "Amazon Women on the Moon" and even "Hairspray" dodge, because while the "Skeleton" characters are two-dimensional stereotypes, they aren't always on the verge of laughing at their own jokes.
The TV show "Mystery Science Theater 3000" ran for more than a decade, making fun of bad movies. Its stars were projected as pithy, pontificating silhouettes who were watching the flicks with you, and they made bad movies not only sufferable but enjoyable.
Never has their absence and impact been felt as sharply as in "The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra," which, in retrospect, should have stayed lost.
"The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra"
Written and directed by Larry Blamire; photographed by Kevin Jones; edited by Bill Bryn Russell; produced by F. Miguel Valenti. A TriStar Pictures release; opens Friday, March 12. Running time: 1:29. MPAA rating: PG (brief mild language).
Dr. Paul Armstrong - Larry Blamire
Betty Armstrong - Fay Masterson
Kro-Bar - Andrew Parks
Lattis - Susan McConnell
Animala - Jennifer Blaire
Dr. Roger Fleming - Brian Howe