Best Movies of All Time + Susan McConnell



The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra is a 2001 comedy film directed by Larry Blamire. It's a send-up of those all '50s B-movies like Plan 9 from Outer Space that have garnered so much ridicule over the years. In The Lost Skeleton, the audience finds themselves amidst a battle between three couples over a meteor containing the ultra-rare element "Atmospherium." As I've done with my recommendations for Clue and Star Wars, I think it will be easiest to break down each character in a bullet-ed list:

  • Dr. Paul Armstrong (Larry Blamire) and Betty Armstrong (Fay Masterson): Paul is the
    central hero of the film. He's a scientist who's interested in finding the meteor and using the Atmospherium to further the advances of science. Science is his life, and he knows nothing more than expanding the knowledge of science. Paul's wife Betty somewhat serves as our female lead, but the actual female "lead" is a little more open to discussion. She's a good-natured, at-home wife who will do anything to keep her husband happy. Her and Paul are the perfect stereotype for the type of couple you'd imagine in the 1950's.
  • Kro-Bar (Andrew Parks) & Lattis (Susan McConnell): Kro-Bar is an alien male from the
    planet Marva who's spaceship has crashed on Earth. His ship needs Atmospherium to power itself back to Marva, establishing his and his wife's - Lattis - need for the element. Unfortunately, the mutant that they have held captive escaped in the crash, and they must find a way to capture the creature before it can kill "millions" of people on this strange planet known as Earth.
  • Dr. Roger Fleming (Brian Howe) and Animala/Pammy (Jennifer Blaire): Fleming serves as our main antagonist for most of the film. In the beginning, he's
    searching for the Lost Skeleton of Cadavra, a skeleton with supposedly supernatural powers. When he finds the Skeleton, it tells him that it needs Atmospherium in order to summon all its powers. Fleming steals one of the aliens' weapons - the Transmutatron - and uses it to change a group of forest animals into a woman whom he calls Animala. He uses Animala to help steal the meteor and do the bidding of the Skeleton.
As you can see, each individual character has his or her own reasoning behind attaining the Atmospherium, and the battle to maintain possession is rather stunning.

One of the things you need to know going into The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra is that you need to watch it with the right mindset. If you go into the film expecting a solidly good movie in the traditional sense of "good movie," then you're going to be sorely disappointed. You'll just think it's a stupid movie that might be bad enough to be considered entertaining. And that's exactly what the filmmakers were going for. They deliberately attempted to make a film that's "so bad, it's good" in order to poke fun at and pay homage to the terribly laughable B-movies of the 1950s. The screenplay was deliberately written as poorly as one could imagine. The acting was deliberately performed at a very low level. Everything about this film oozes "badness," and that's what makes it so damn brilliant.

Blamire, who also wrote the screenplay in addition to starring and directing, pulls no punches in crafting a dreadfully hilarious script. The basic storyline is pretty laughable on its own. I mean, the main nemesis ultimately ends up being a re-animated skeleton - how can't you laugh at that? But the real beauty of the screenplay is the dialogue. It's absolutely horrendous, and that makes it all the more perfect in a film like this. There's a lot of repetition of seemingly unnecessary words and phrases. For example, the word "science" - or some derivative thereof - is used twenty-nine times throughout the film. Now, that may not seem like much when you read it here, but while you're watching the movie, you're definitely going to notice. Blamire hits the nail

on the head in creating the feel of a '50s B-movie, from the terrible one-liners to the low-budget feel. Everything they do is done on purpose, and they go just about as far as they possibly can with everything, from the terrible special effects (see picture to the right) to a pitch-perfect score that enhances the ridiculousness of it all.

I couldn't possibly go without talking about the acting because it's also pitch-perfect. Everyone is so over-the-top that it's almost unfair how hilarious they all are. The cast of this film tends to do a lot of movies together - they were all in this film's sequel (2009's The Lost Skeleton Returns Again) as well as 2009's Dark and Stormy Night, which I reviewed a few weeks ago. They're a very close group, and they have yet to make a bad film, in my opinion. However, it all started here, and The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra still ranks highest among all of their collective endeavors. As I've said in recent posts, a film can have a fantastic screenplay, but poor execution by the cast can result in disaster. In this case, we have a perfectly terrible screenplay - again, because it was intentionally made that way - and it's executed flawlessly by these brilliant comedic individuals. They each play their respective roles to a tee, and you'd be hard-pressed to sit through this film without bursting into laughter.

Remember: don't delve into this film without understanding what you're getting yourself into. If you go in taking it too seriously, you won't get the whole point of the film. Prepare yourself for something that's deliberately bad. This is easily one of the best parodies I've ever seen, and I could watch it over and over and over again and cry with laughter every time. There's a reason that it ranks as the 44th greatest movie I've ever seen. So if you can take it for what it is, this is a definite must-see. I can guarantee you'll enjoy it.
----------Previous Recommendations:
CLUE (1985)
PSYCHO (1960)
STAR WARS (1977)

(Side note: I'm going to start doing one "movie recommendation" every Saturday night. These will always be films I've already seen and think that other people should see. I know that my past recommendations are pretty well-known flicks, so I'm going to do my best to bring movies you've probably never heard of. Hope you can enjoy my recommendations!)

2001, Andrew Parks, Brian Howe, comedy, Fay Masterson, Jennifer Blaire, Larry Blamire, Lost Skeleton, recommendation, scifi, spoof, and more:

Relevant to: Movie Recommendation: THE LOST SKELETON OF CADAVRA + Susan McConnell