The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra (2001) — Trying to recapture that B-movie magic

“Aliens? Us? Is this one of your Earth jokes?”

Justin’s rating: “Snore snore snore”

Justin’s review: Our old forum had a special place where crazy people go to suggest movies for us to review. After weeding out porn titles and any movies even faintly smelling of arthouse sweat, we still had a huge pile of cinematic orphans seeking a home. It’s tough to ignore all that, but we’re trained professionals and have built up a nice thick layer of callous. Even so, every once in a while our readers latched on to the notion of us reviewing one particular film so much that they become like that kid in Big Daddy who wanted to listen to the Kangaroo Song. In our case, it was The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra.

“Please review The Lost Skeleton!”

“Why haven’t you reviewed Lost Skeleton of Cadavra yet?”

“I question all of your manhoods, even the women, because this movie isn’t on the site yet.”

“LOST SKELETON! LOST SKELETON! LOST SKELETON! LOST SKELETON! LOST SKELETON! LOST SKELETON! LOST SKELETON! LOST SKELETON!”

Alright already! You want it so bad, here you go! It’s a movie, about a lost skeleton, who holes up in a cave of Cadavra. Go, see it. There, am I done now?

Guess not. Believe it or not from my pedantic whinery, but I really do like it when we get good film suggestions from our readers. There have been lots of great movies I’d have never seen if it hadn’t have been for them. But… Lost Skeleton of Cadavra is not one of them.

Oh, I saw it. That’s not what I’m saying. And I’ll give credit where due: I did laugh twice, out loud, at a pair of funny lines. Yet ultimately this movie is an exercise in unnecessary redundancy.

What Lost Skeleton is, really, is the brainchild of some people who really loved those hokey old ’50s and ’60s scifi-monster cheese factories and wanted to pay them homage. Fair enough. So what they did was to create a movie that was just as bad, on purpose, as all of those older bombs. There’s a scientist man, his ditsy wife, a couple of space aliens, a mad scientist, a girl who’s made of four different forest animals, a mutant and a lost skeleton all seeking some sort of precious element known as atmospherium.

Shot in black and white with horribly cheesy effects (on purpose) and even worse stilted acting (on purpose), this is meant to mock, parody or pay tribute to those older movies. However, it just doesn’t work in the end.

There are two big problems here. The first is, as PoolMan once put it so eloquently, that you simply cannot make a movie with the intention of forcing it to be a cult film. Whenever you’re aiming for that, you’re guaranteed to miss the mark spectacularly. To have the marketing department pretty much waving this poster in your face and telling you that it’s the next best cult flick has the authentic air of your parents trying to dress and style their hair in the fashion of today’s youth.

The other major failure ā€” and it’s related to the first ā€” is that there’s really no need to make a bad movie on purpose that has no deeper dimension than being bad.

Listen: we have plenty of these horrible, low-budget scifi bombs in the movie archives to keep you giggling for years to come. Mystery Science Theater 3000 showed us how fun it is to mock the badness that resulted from someone seriously trying to make an entertaining movie and falling flat on their face. So the question is, would you rather watch a movie where the badness is unintentional or intentional? In other words, would you like to live your life or to watch those staged “reality” shows instead? Yeah, I thought so.

Even with these major flaws, Lost Skeleton could’ve worked as a much smaller project. At an hour and a half, it’s far too long for the lack of action and dialogue presented (many of the characters fill up dead air by bouncing a “horribly written” conversation back and forth). The funny parts, such as Animala’s tendency to say animal sounds without making them sound like animals whatsoever (“rowr”), are scattered about and should’ve been edited down to a tight, hysterical short film.

While watching all of this, I kept thinking back to the far superior Invasion!, which took the same general concept (reviving the old B scifi movies with modern-day parody) but played it much more tongue-in-cheek than Lost Skeleton’s straight face. If I’m thinking of another movie while watching this one, then I can’t in all honesty say that it’s worth your time.

One comment

  1. Oh come on. Don’t tell me you didn’t laugh when Animala plowed her face into her plate of mashed potatoes. Or when Dr. Armstrong said that collecting some atmospherium would mean “…actual advances in the field of science.”

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