Plenty of science fiction B movies from the 1940s through the 1960s are unintentionally humorous -- but what happens when someone deliberately re-created their badness?  The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra is both a mockery and homage to those ridiculously earnest early films.

The movie opens with scientist Dr. Paul Armstrong (Larry Blamire) and his wife Betty (Fay Masterson) heading out to a cabin in the woods.  Paul wants to find and study a meteor made of atmospherium ("You know what this meteor could mean to science.  If we find it, and it's real, it could mean a lot.  It could mean actual advances in the field of science"), while Betty is apparently there to tease her husband and do some cooking.

At the same time, a spaceship from the planet Marva has crashed nearby.  Alien couple Kro-Bar (Andrew Parks) and Lattis (Susan McConnell) need some atmospherium to get their spaceship working again, so they use their Transmutatron to make themselves seem like humans.  Their mutant also escaped after the crash.
 Also at the same time, Dr. Roger Fleming (Brian Howe) has discovered Cadavra Cave, and the (plastic) skeleton within.  The skeleton communicates through telepathy ("I sleep now!") and wants the atmospherium to be brought back to life and rule the world.  Dr. Fleming uses the Transmutatron to create Animala (Jennifer Blaire), who is "part woman, part four different types of animals."
 What follows is a dinner party with all the characters, aliens trying to act like humans ("Please be seated."  "Fold yourself in the middle!"), alliances and betrayals, lots of stilted dialogue ("What's the matter?  Tell me."  "I don't know.  Nothing I can put my finger on.  Not something I can see or touch or feel.  But something I can't quite see or touch or feel or put my finger on"), hypnotic dancing, an amazingly fake monster, and Ranger Brad (Dan Conroy) popping up to give warnings: "Well again I didn't mean to throw a damper. Believe me that's the last thing I'd like to throw. I don't want to throw anything at all really. But when folks are horribly mutilated, I feel it's my job to tell others. We take our horrible mutilations seriously up in these parts."
 In the wrong hands, The Lost Skeleton of Cadavdra could have been a disappointing one-joke movie.  Fortunately, this movie managed to both laugh at and with its source movies in equal measure.  The dialogue ridiculous and wonderfully quotable ("All skeletons are against me.  They always have been.  Even when I was a child I was always hated by skeletons!"), and the actors all manage their straightforward deliveries and awkward pauses with great comic timing.  I usually like my B movies being riffed on Mystery Science Theater 3000 or Rifftrax, but The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra is a loving and very amusing take on the "classic" science fiction films of old.  DVD extras include lots of behind-the-scenes features, plus many trailers for the sort of movies that inspired The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra.

Overall grade: B+
Reviewed by James Lynch

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