A meteor rife with "atmospherium" lands in a California canyon that looks suspiciously like the location of generations of Hollywood movies and TV series. The space rock attracts an intrepid scientist (Blamire) and his loyal wife (Fay Masterson), as well as space-suited alien spouses Kro-Bar and Lattis (Andrew Parks and Susan McConnell). In addition, an evil scientist (Brian Howe) covets the meteorite to re-animate the lifeless -- yet potentially all-powerful -- skeleton of the title.
Part of the appeal of Roger Corman's and Ed Wood's worst efforts are their sincerity. They crafted the best movies they could with limited resources and still stunk up the joint. But Skeleton's script winks at the audience with pages of sucky dialogue that telegraphs that it's sucky dialogue. Scenes drag on like endless Mike Meyers shtick with characters stiltedly stating and restating the obvious. The funniest lines at least contain a hint of plausible error, like "Together, you and I will rule the world together!"
Skeleton gets its biggest laughs, instead, from its faux-inept technical aspects. The skeleton "attacks" thanks to clearly visible wires, while the aliens' runaway mutant wears ordinary shoes beneath its crappy costume. Blamire and his cohorts lovingly recreate the smallest details of lousy filmmaking: fake cricket sound effects, muddy black-and-white film stock, scenes that drag on just a bit too long.
But only obsessed fans of Z-grade cinema can stay patient for Skeleton's 90-minute running time -- although Landmark Midtown Art Cinema provides a nice bonus by screening the 1937 cartoon "Skeleton Frolic" with the film. The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra spawned an ingenious, hilarious trailer, but the joke wears thin as a feature. You get more entertainment from bona fide howlers like Robot Monster, Exorcist II: The Heretic or Battlefield Earth. Given the choice, go for the worst.
Opens March 5 at Landmark Midtown Art Cinema, 931 Monroe Drive.
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