What “Cadavra” has above the rest of the lot for spoofing old B movies, is it just screams for the dudes at “Mystery Science Theater” to spoof it. “Cadavra” is essentially a B movie spoofing B movies from the fifties and many times it really manages to pull off the gags. The director has obviously done his research to a great extent with much of the flaws, plot holes, and immense lack of continuity provided with schlock sci-fi films even going down to the horrible props including cheesy alien costumes, a spaceship that looks like cardboard, and often times the props re-appear in another scene ala Ed Wood; and there are many scenes that just mimic those of the fifties including animal stock footage used for the actual film, which was a common practice then.
“Cadavra” is a very creative hybrid of comedy, farce, and old time science fiction that fans of the genre will enjoy. And Blamire pinpoints every bit of accurate sci-fi depictions right down to the opening sequence which resembled many of the old fifties schlock sci-fi films to a tee. And Blamire makes no waste of the resources at his disposal as we’re exposed to a cast of vapid characters played by actors who have no idea how to emote and break in to laughter with every bit of trite clunky, dialogue. And many times “Cadavra” resembled the utter shrill tedium of “Manos” with pointless dialogue, and endless driving sequences.
The effect works so much sometimes that it was annoying. But, during the plot which goes about itself without fail involving a meteor, a talking skeleton, a googly-eyed monster resembling a character from H.R. Puffnstuff, and an animal that’s turned in to a woman who looks like a runaway bohemian art student. Either way, much of the gags here work, and there were many laugh out loud moments including where the aliens get drunk, the conflicting mind messages to Betty, the dinner scene where the aliens attempt to mimic the humans habits, and the actors’ deadpan delivery of some of the most repetitive horrible dialogue you’ll ever hear (“Betty, you know what this meteor could mean to science?
It could mean actual advances in the field of science.”). And the actors really manage to pull off the shtick well including the two leads director Blamire and Fay Masterson who have great chemistry and are very convincing as the constantly yammering and jolly married couple who stumble on to Atmoshperium which they display on a–dinner plate. Their exchanges are often times very witty with some quick one-liners that had me laughing loudly, and teamed with Susan McConnell and Andrew Park as the Marvans, they make for many funny sequences that will stick with you. For a film that seems to have all the right elements for a proper schlock spoof, it really can’t seem to take those elements and put them together into a perfect combination of comedy and bad acting. Often times this doesn’t push the comedy on the audience, but instead it shoves it down our throats, and jokes go on much too long more times than I would have liked.
There are many sequences that are too drawn out even for a spoof, and the actors never really convince us that they’re intending to give a bad but funny performance. Unlike other pokes at the fifties like “Mars Attacks!”, and “Ed Wood”, this lacks any real life or energy to the story to grant it genuinely comedic in its presentation. What made the spoof of the fifties schlock films so funny were because they were played straight with goofy elements, but the writer can never seem to understand that. There’s not a lot to do with this movie when it can and obvious jokes really fall short of being funny and really just becomes forced. There were many jokes that were more odd than actually funny, and much of it was just too goofy to be taken seriously. It inevitably got to the point where I was saying “Alright, already, we get it”. I mean aliens who have mastered technology don’t know how to walk up steps? And the actors really manage to overplay it where it’s just way over-the-top.
As well, there’s not a lot of reason for the skeleton of cadavra and what power it actually holds. Also, nothing is ever really explained; even in the fifties schlock films, no matter how goofy or pointless, there were things explained, but not even the writer can seem to muster up a good explanation for the skeleton and what it’s doing there, and what the point of its accomplice is, and why atmospherium is so important. Regardless, it just all really seems to end too senselessly and never fully grasps the concept with all its potential and ends up short changing any possibilities of pure comedy. Not to mention there’s the dreadful last half that takes all these elements and combines them together in a very unfunny mixture that is both underwhelming and hardly clever. Though “Cadavra” does have its heart in the right place many times pulling off clever gags, and acing the many bad elements that make a B movie, the director can never really pull off what he’s aiming for in the end, and everything is just half-hearted in spite of the entertainment value. He almost gets it right… almost.