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The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra

Writer-director Larry Blamire got a cast of very good actors together and deliberately made a very bad movie in the style of those Ed Wood-era, This Island Earth-style, classic schlock horror flicks. The result, The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra (2001), is pure comedy gold. Blamire plays Dr. Paul Armstrong, a scientist on the lookout — along with his wife, Betty (Fay Masterson, The Quick and the Dead, Eyes Wide Shut) — for a meteorite he believes to be loaded with a rare element called "atmosphereum." Also in the area is Armstrong's scientific rival, Dr. Roger Fleming (Brian Howe, K-Pax, Catch Me If You Can), who's seeking the legendary Cadavra Cave, resting place of a famous skeleton. There's also a pair of visiting aliens, Kro-Bar (Andrew Parks, Donnie Brasco) and Lattis (Susan McConnell), transmutated into human form, seeking the atmosphereum to refuel their spaceship — and the dangerous mutant they were transporting has escaped, besides! Shot for under $100,000 on digital video and converted to black-and-white, The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra has an amateurish, television-comedy visual quality that's more than compensated for by brilliantly hackneyed writing and the breathtakingly wooden performances by the actors — especially the hilarious turn by Blamire's real-life wife, Jennifer Blaire, as the sexy, black-clad "Animala," created by Dr. Fleming out of a handful of forest creatures using the aliens' transmutation ray … because he needs a date. A favorite at film festivals and on the art house circuit, The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra gained something of a cult-favorite since its release, which will only grow now that it's available on DVD. Columbia TriStar's release offers a very good anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) — given the low-rent quality of the source, it looks mighty good here. The audio, on a perfectly appropriate monaural Dolby Digital track, is clean, replicating the same flat, cheesy quality as the Z-grade films parodied here. On board is a surprising amount of extra material — a very entertaining commentary track featuring the cast and crew (who obviously had the time of their lives making this film), a nice blooper reel (with the scenes presented in their original color), a 30-minute featurette showing the cast answering questions after an American Cinematheque showing of the film, a short behind-the-scenes featurette called "Obey the Skeleton," a selection of fake tie-in merchandise that was featured on the film's promotional website, the cartoon "Skeleton Frolic," which ran before the film during its theatrical release, and several trailers for other Columbia DVD releases. Keep-case.
—Dawn Taylor

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