Parody is such a fragile genre. With a keen wit, eye, or at the very least, an
ounce of self-perception, parodies can delight, such as "Airplane!" or the
"Austin Powers" series. But coat it in a repulsive self-congratulatory, wink-wink,
nudge-nudge glow, and you have a creation along the lines of last year's worst
film, the Doris Day/Rock Hudson tribute, "Down With Love." "The Lost Skeleton of
Cadavra" (IMDb listing) is the latest no-budgeted feature (shot in B&W, and with a digital
camera) to try its hand at a little satire, and, almost predictably, it's about
as pleasurable to sit through as a good, old-fashioned Boston back alley
The target for "Skeleton" is 1950s science fiction epics. You know, the films
shown today on television in the wee hours of the morning; filled with
rubber-suited monsters and "scientists" who must try to save the world from
alien invasions. "Skeleton" runs through the list of iconic elements to the
genre, but does so in a reprehensible "GET IT?!?" way that shows disrespect to
the audience and the genre it's sending up. We have Paul, the "scientist" (Larry
Blamire, who also "wrote" and directed), his faithful and traditionally
subservient housewife Betty (Fay Masterson), the evil "scientist" Roger (Brian
Howe), who is hunting for a meteor that will give the notorious Lost Skeleton of
Cadavra life to rule the world. Also on the hunt for the meteor are two aliens
(Andrew Parks and Susan McConnell), who have lost a giant flesh eating mutant,
and are desperate to return home. While these elements are spot-on with what the films
of the era contained, Blamire is no skilled craftsman, and his 30-second joke is
turned into a soul-flattening, sensory depravation chamber of a film experience,
from which there is no escape.
"Skeleton" pounds each and every one of its jokes so hard into the audiences'
forehead, that there is little room to breathe. The aliens' ray guns are clearly
pointed out as cheesy, modified caulking instruments, and their spaceship
door is opened and closed poorly by butterfingered stage hands. Blamire
takes time to emphasize that the skeleton is being controlled by visible wires,
and the centerpiece of the film, the big scary mutant, is clearly a man in a
suit, complete with visible feet. And then there's Joel, who remarks to a
supporting character that she better not "do one of those silly hypnotic dances"
before the character actually does one of those silly hypnotic dances. Yeesh. Had Blamire found a lighter, less underlining, self-referential
touch, "Skeleton" could've been great harmless fun. What it is now is a
monstrosity and an endurance test, not quite understanding that the filmmakers
of the era made crappy movies due to lack of resources, not out of a desire to
get laughs. A more interesting "Skeleton" might have been found if the
filmmakers played it absolutely straight, and let that creation find chemistry
with today's audiences.
Most importantly, why was the 50s sci-fi genre such important ground for Blamire
to cover? Any self-respecting filmmaker could see that Tim Burton's "Ed Wood"
and the continually brilliant (and deeply missed) television show, "Mystery
Science Theater 3000" were the final nails in the genre coffin. Who wants to
spend comedy time with rubber monsters and bad acting if Joel, Mike, Crow, and
Tom Servo aren't around?
Filmfodder Grade: F