Special to The Dagger
JULY THEME: COMEDY
THE LOST SKELETON OF CADAVRA (2001)
Director: Larry Blamire
With a tip of the hat to the monster movies of yore, the Lost Skeleton of Cadavra serves up the satire to the nostalgic and the apologetic. Opening with a scientist and his wife out to explore a recently crashed meteor with a rare new element in tow the dialog and obvious continuity goofs keep the laughs rolling. The scientist studies… wait for it… science. Meanwhile another scientist discovers a lost skeleton that supposedly has the powers to conquer the world (insert thunder effect). Upon discovering this lost relic, scientist number two is also sassily sent off in search of the rare element to assist the skeleton in his rise to power. But wait; there’s more! Meanwhile, a rocket ship has crashed and its two passengers have lost their mutant who is on the rampage. You guessed it; they need the rare element too. With tongue firmly planted in cheek, the race is on to capture the rare element.
Being too young to fully appreciate the genius at work in this faithful satire of mid century film does not prevent enjoyment. Perhaps the best analog is the much praised and short lived Mystery Science Theater 3000 without the narration track. The film is awful and intentionally so. Painstakingly recreating the feel of the classic films, while incorporating nostalgic humor makes for a near perfect homage. This film would not be out of place had it ran on a weekend matinee in the 50’s. The staging of household props and the vintage soundtrack all pull the film together.
As an added bonus, a sequel to this film, Dark and Stormy Night, is slated for release in August direct to DVD.
CANNIBAL! THE MUSICAL (1993)
Director: Trey Parker
Continuing the theme of low-budget tacky films, Cannibal! The Musical brings to life the story of Alfred Packer. Opening at his trial for murdering and eating his party of pioneers, the young reporter Polly takes sympathy to his plight and the story is told via flashbacks during the narrative. Alfred is talked into leading gold prospectors to the Colorado Territories and since he is from there he must know how to get there. Unfortunately, no. Once lost in the wilderness, the men must contend with the loss of supplies, encounters with natives and trappers, and eventually cannibalism. As an aside, the film is actually based on a true story and follows the events fairly faithfully.
This certainly is not a film for everyone. The humor is crude, immature, and very dark. For those that don’t know, director Trey Parker is half of the team that created South Park. Other point to note, this film was released by Troma entertainment, most notable for the low budge classic Toxic Avenger. That being said, I would recommend this film to people who enjoy Airplane and Mel Brook’s films. There is plenty of comedy gold here especially delivered in one-liners and overblown musical routines. In fact, the musical routines are where the film really shines. Most impressive is that this is Trey Parker’s first film and his style holds the story together in a way no one else can.
Director: Scott Prendergast
A film that almost never was, Scott Prendergast quirky indie comedy is the product of driven desire. Scott quit his job and lost almost every aspect of his life at age 32 during the birth of this film. What is left is a comedy that is true to author rather then the trends of pop film.
The film is centered on down and out Salman played by Scott. Recruited out of desperation to be the caretaker for his nephews while his brother is in Iraq and his sister-in-law is forced back to work, Salman plays the role with incompetent brilliance. The situation sours and Salman finds employment at his sister-in-laws company as the films namesake mascot during the collapse of the dot com bubble. The film stretches out into self-realization as the giant blue suit becomes more than just an advertising gimmick to the people is Salman’s life.
Just as the Kabluey suit has its duality, the film also suffers from a strong middle book ended by weaker sections. The buildup to the suit in the beginning can be exasperating, especially if one does not like children. Salman’s nephews do nothing but cry and scream for the first quarter of the film. Once his employment changes, the comedy in the film shines bright. The early scenes of Salman being interviewed and in the blue suit are comedy gold. Eventually the ending takes a turn towards sugary and while not unexpected leaves some disappointment. In the vein of Buster Keeton, the film offers enough slapstick moments to satisfy.
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