The Lost Skeleton Of Cadavra review by The Grim Ringler

As I stated in my review for Fiend Without A Face, the fifties and sixties were pretty much top-heavy with sci-fi/horror films laced with a touch of fear of the ‘red menace’ and played just a little too straight. Back then kids ate them up, parents wrung their hands in horror and the studios raked in some dubious bucks. Nowadays those lost films are little more than punch lines to most casual movie fans but to us diehards, they are reminders of a sillier, more carefree era in cinema. And thanks to the wonders of the low-budget Lost Skeleton, we get to relive those days in earnest without having to make a time machine, so bonus.

The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra begins with a scientist (who, ironically enough studies science we later learn in one of the movies many plot twists) and his wife heading for the woods and the cabin of some friends so he can study a newly crashed meteor and the rare new element the meteor has brought as its cargo. Things are going hunky dory for the couple as they talk about, oh, you know, science, and meteors, and stuff, but things sh’ant be so hunky or dory soon enough. While the scientist and his wife are settling in, another scientist is searching for a supposedly haunted cave which is told to hold the famed and fearsome Lost Skeleton of Cadavra, and it is said that if someone can bring the skeleton back to life it shall rise up and help that person conquer the world. Bwahahahahaha! But when the ‘mad’ scientist finds the skeleton he also finds that this is one bag of bones that doesn’t take any sass. Armed with a sharp tongue and an angry demeanor, the skeleton orders the man to go off and capture himself some of that mysterious element that the meteor had brought with it (I want to call it ‘atmospherium’ but I’ll be damned if I can remember) so that the skeleton can rise once more. Bwahahaha! Meanwhile a rocket ship from outer space has crashed into the neighboring woods and the two passengers of that ship have lost their mutant, and hulking thing with the seeming ability to become invisible and now it’s on the loose rampaging madly and creating murderous mayhem. And these aliens, who appear as humans, though with fancy talk and shiny clothes, need the meteor now as well. And now that the scientist and his wife have this space element, the aliens, the mad doctor, and the skeleton all want what they have and will stop at nothing to get it. Even if it means combining four woodland creatures into a beautiful but deadly woman, as it does for the mad doctor. And we are left with the perilous question – who will capture the rare and powerful element for themselves, and consequences will this have on the rest of the world, which waits in the balance?

This friends, is comedic homage at its highest. The filmmakers and actors in Lost Skeleton have captured the atmosphere, pace, and strangely stilted dialogue delivery that the old ‘classics’ were notorious for and have instilled all of this with a sense of fun and silliness without damaging the integrity of the film in the slightest. Hell, this would probably be a credible film were it released back in the fifties. You have the scientist who uses words you almost wonder if he knows the meaning to, the dopey but sweet wife, the ‘mad’ scientist obsessed by power, the killer mutant, the sort of sinister aliens, and a strange and rare fictitious space element. Yup, all there. Adding to this level of depth is a fantastic score which was cobbled together from old library music and which fits this film like a glove. Watching this film and watching how much fun the actors must have had created one of the most fun movie experiences I have had in a while.

As always, this isn’t a perfect film, though in all honesty, it was never meant to be. It’s a farce, a loving spoof, and as such, it is tied to that which it spoofs. So if you have no interest or appreciation of the older sci-fi/horror classics of the past, well, you may not get much out of this movie. You have to have a feel for that subgenre of the past to really see how much that Lost Skeleton gets right, and believe me, it’s a LOT. Especially since the acting is meant to be bad, as is the plot and special effects. It all plays into the homage. Any other real problems I found were minimal since I was willing to accept that this was a very low budget film and as such wasn’t going to be the most technical or professional movie on three wheels.

The sound is just stereo and won’t knock your socks off but is clear and easy to hear. The image is very clean and when you see the blooper real before the film was changed into black and white you really see how much better it looks in the ‘old-fashioned’ black and white. There are a lot of fun extras on the disc, the most interesting being the question and answer segment that was held after a showing.

A wonderfully fun film on its own and a brilliant send-up of some well worn classics, this is the perfect movie for a small gathering of cinema geeks. I am sure it would still be good seen solo but you’ll get more out of it if you can watch it with some friends who will also be mesmerized by the madness of the lost skeleton.



8 out of 10 Jackasses
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