Sunday, June 21, 2009

Day 122: The Lost Skeleton Returns Again (2009) - Rank 5/5

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In 2001, Larry Blamire created "The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra," an endearing parody of B-horror from the 1950's and 1960's. When it came out, I found it to be one of the funniest films of the year. I love it when modern comedies push the PG limit ("Napoleon Dynamite" would be another good example). All too often, Hollywood deems it necessary to produce scripts that are peppered with fricative expletives and fraught with scatological references or other gross-out humor. That's why I found the critically-acclaimed "Knocked Up" to be rather lackluster. Blamire (who also directs, produces and stars) created a labor of love with fabulous dialogue that hails back to the screwball comedies of the thirties and early forties where almost every line is a one-liner (and without struggling to make every line a catch phrase that's t-shirt worthy, as was the case in "Juno"). Or, to draw an even better analogy, the characters speak in a manner reminiscent of Victor Borge.

The dialogue in the sequel is superb, because Blamire and crew decided to push the limits of where their world could take them by making the plot much darker than the first film. Paul Armstrong (Blamire) has left behind his cheery wife, rocks and a life of science to embrace the spirit of bitterness at the bottom of a bottle that's lost in the heart of an unforgiving jungle (hey, now I'm getting the hang of their manner of speech). A quest to locate him is undertaken and along the way, all the familiar faces from the previous tale surface (sometimes in the guise of identical twins). There are some newcomers, including a foolishly determined Reet Pappin (Frank Dietz), the pompous and bumbling Slykes (Dan Roebuck, whose performances can be hit or miss for me, but is hilarious here as he channels Sydney Greenstreet) and Chinfa, Queen of the Cantaloupe People (Alison Martin in a self-explanatory role). Along the way, the Lost Skeleton rears his ugly head...and not much else since he's sans body.

While the film slows a bit near the end, the pacing is far tighter than the first and the cinematography is certainly superior. There were many scenes in "Lost Skeleton of Cadavra" that were shot point blank and clearly looked like they were shot digitally (though part of this is the humor of the film, because if you're going to parody low-budget endeavors, your work also needs to look low budget). However, "Lost Skeleton Returns Again" makes liberal use of Dutch angles and high contrast black and white to the point that I felt the camera was channeling the spirit of Conrad Hall. Sadly, the film is still looking for a distributor. I was lucky enough to see it as part of the third test audience and I have to admit that I came close to throwing up a number of times as a result of constant laughter. I can only hope and pray it receives a theatrical release, because when it does, I'm watching the hell out of the thing!

Watch One of Several Trailers

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