August 21, 2004

The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra

The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra is a goofy attempt to make fun of old B scifi-horror films by making a bad scifi horror film in the same vein.

The only difference is, this time they know they’re making a bad film. That’s funny, right?

But that’s an odd idea. Why is it any funnier than the actual old really bad films? If they did a perfect job at it, it wouldn’t be much funnier because it would be exactly like them. So, is it funny at all, and if so, why?

  1. The original B movies are funny. So, in that way, this one is funny as well.
  2. In this one you know that they know they’re acting badly. They know you know the writing is supposed to be lousy. So it is like being in on a joke, and everyone likes being in on a joke.
  3. Despite what other people have said about this film being different from other send-ups, it actually does exaggerate some of the badness of old films. And thank goodness, because it wouldn’t be nearly as funny if it did not.

That third point is important. You can’t just make a bad film and expect it to be funnier than the bad films already out there. You have to exaggerate or at least concentrate the most ridiculous stuff into one film. Sometimes it is very subtle. Letting the camera linger far too long on a man laughing maniacally, yet self-consciously is a sudden reminder that even real maniacs don’t laugh like that. Having dialog that repeats itself repeatedly again and again makes you imagine the 7 year old who must have worked on the script, or the adult who had the excitement of a 7 year old but not much more in screenwriting chops. Sometimes it is less subtle, like having your actors stick their faces into their food because they’re aliens learning Earth customs from a woman who is made up of four different forest animals. Come on, that’s over the top even for the worst B movies.

So, this film is subtly funny if you are a B-movie fan. I imagine it was also quite difficult for the actors to act so self consciously. They really did a good job. My favorite character was the forest ranger. At the beginning he looked like someone had just stuck him in the ground where he was standing to answer tourist questions. Later in the film he’s more mobile but still exuding an almost perfect vacuous friendly aura of desiring to be helpful. All completely low key.

There are a number of excellent quotable lines from this film, but I’ll let you discover most of them for yourself. The one that struck me the most was:

“Aliens? Us? Is this one of your Earth jokes?”

I expect it will remain a cult classic. Read Chuck’s much review for more details. Except he is wrong about the filming. On the extras they reveal it was 11 days (10 1/2 plus a half day to film the miniatures. Heh.)

Posted by James at August 21, 2004 6:22 PM
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"Mothman Prophecies" is a good example of a movie that could have been funny if they had been making a B movie on purpose, but instead was just miserable because no one involved seemed to realize they were making a crappy movie.

Posted by: Julie at August 21, 2004 9:43 PM

"Mothman Prophecies" is one of those movies that would have improved if they had changed ANYTHING. It was pretty much bad all around. Bad, bland, and not even weird enough to get a sucker like me to like it.

Posted by: James at August 21, 2004 9:54 PM

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