I am not to sure how many of you out there have ever seen or heard of the 1987 comedy-sketch gem known as “Amazon Women on the Moon”. Imbedded within the sketches is the recurring 50s sci-fi spoof film. That little film starred Steve Forrest as a Captain of a mission to the moon where he finds, surprise, Amazon Women headed by “B” actress Sybil Danning.
The film had so many hilarious bits that the central story is almost forgotten. But if you can imagine taking the Amazon Women thread and watching just it. Then you may be able to grasp what “Lost Skeleton” is.
Cheesy, radioactive, mutant-ridden, rubber-suited 1950s sci-fi movies weren’t really a movement or really a commentary on anything. They were just shock-schlock that was filmed to give us a glimpse of a new weird world away from the paranoid grip of the Cold War.
Before Kubrick’s landmark sci-fi event “2001: A Space Odyssey” this is the innocent goofy science fiction we wanted on screen. Sure there were some boundaries achieved and pushed with Universal’s classic and amazing monsters series but that was more a landmark for horror not sci-fi where pulp heroes like Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers reigned.
“The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra” finds a stiff scientist (writer-director Larry Blamire) and his clueless wife (Fay Masterson) journeying to a rustic cabin where they hope to make a scientific discovery of “atmospheriam”. Meanwhile a devilish scientist (Brian Howe) hatches a plan of his own to resurrect a sinister skeleton in the Cadavra Cave. If that wasn’t enough an alien spacecraft crashes and its occupants unleash a deadly radioactive monster.
“The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra” relives and accents a lot of the logic and language of the infamous Flash Gordon serials and the paranoid radioactive matinee sci-fi films of the 1950s like 1956’s “It Conquered the World” and 1957’s “Not of this Earth” which are both from “schlock-tycoon” Roger Corman. There are also a homage to Buster Crabbe’s infamous portrayal of Flash Gordon from the classic serials.
The film is photographed in black and white which give it even more of a campy feel. There is a lot of B-budget allure and 1950s styled science yammering. The typical retro-raygun is used by the visiting aliens to hilarious results. The whole plot surrounding the skeleton is a little tiresome when it’s the interactions between the humans and aliens that gets the most laughs.
The film spends a lot of time on repetitive dialogue, goofy antics and displaced actors. The actors do anything very straight and stiff but we don’t for a minute take it serious. The laughs and antics run out of steam about an hour in and you think maybe the filmmakers should have also mimicked the 70 minute running time of the old 1950s flicks.
Blamire and Masterson were my favorites and I found them the most enjoyable of the goofiness. Blamire seems so much like a beginning Corman but you really wonder if that is who he is trying to spoof. I also enjoyed the portrayal of the male alien by Andrew Parks who reminded me some of the Crabbe serials and of course Steve Forrest in “Amazon Women”.
“Lost Skeleton” is a spoofy goofy homage romp with delicate longevity. What would be great would be a real huge direct spoof of those old 50s films in the spirit of a “Scary Movie” or “Spaceballs”. There were enough of them.
(2 out of 5)
So Says the Soothsayer.