There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
It doesn’t take much heavy lifting to lampoon a ’50s science-fiction flick. The shoddy production values, the ultra-cheesy dialogue, the theremin—why, practically any kid with a Super 8, a skeleton, and a pie tray could style himself a Christopher Guest. That, of course, is exactly what writer-director and lead actor Larry Blamire sets out to do in the The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra, an homage to/sendup of vintage sci-fi cheese that re-creates the genre from whole cloth. Blamire’s ear for irrational overexuberance helps his method of satire score on the big stuff: The opening credits promise a glimpse at the otherworldly film technique of “Skeletorama”—which seems pretty similar to what film scholars call “black and white”—and the plot offers a bushel of pseudoscientific nonspecificity. Dr. Paul Armstrong (Blamire) is on the hunt for a meteor rich with the “atmospherium” he needs to make “advances in the field of science,” Dr. Roger Fleming (Brian Howe) needs the atmospherium to reanimate a sass-talking skeleton that hides out in Cadavra Cave, and the aliens Kro-Bar (Andrew Parks) and Lattis (Susan McConnell) need the atmospherium to power their wayward spacecraft. The ensuing narrative nails the ramshackle nature of catchall sci-fi plotting, but Blamire isn’t quite deft enough to avoid another genre hallmark: extreme tedium. Soon enough, all the inappropriately long lines of dialogue—“Look at it glow…it’s almost glowing, in a way”— inappropriately long close-ups, and inappropriately long bouts of insane laughter stop being funny and become just inappropriately long. The movie’s high points come when Blamire lets himself be original rather than simply ratcheting existing elements to the nth degree: The ultra-self-conscious aliens, who devise the “Earth names” Tergasso and Bammon, can hardly speak when pretending to be human but are perfectly conversant in English otherwise. And then there’s the climactic battle—which happens to be between an H.R. Pufnstuf–looking mutant and the fishing-line-rigged skeleton. OK, maybe that’s not so original. But look, you can see the fishing line! —Josh Levin