The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra became a cult smash a few years back as it tweaked the films that aired on the Creature Double Features. It mixed scientists, aliens, madmen and a talking skeleton into an epic battle. Viewers marveled at the miracle of Skeletorama. Since the film did so well, writer-director had to give the fans more with The Lost Skeleton Returns Again.
The Lost Skeleton is missing most of his bones at the start of the new film. He’s down to his skull and lower mandible. The skull wants to get back his body. He’s got a plan. He uses the twin brother of the late Dr. Roger Fleming (Brian Howe) to do his bidding. They journey to the Amazon jungle to locate Jeranium 90. The skull isn’t the only thing wanting the rare rock. Two other groups are heading into the wilds in search of the greatest element since the cinematic discovery of Unobtainium. One group has the alien couple from the first film. It turns into a free for all as each group does their best to be the grab and run inside the Valley of the Monsters. This is no easy job since there really are monsters roaming. There’s also a lost tribe that worship through the use of cantaloupes. The comedy comes from a kitchen sink of exploring cliches including the reluctant drunk and the military man.
The movie spoofs the jungle adventures as the cast creeps through a wilderness augmented with animal clips pulled from vintage nature documentaries. That’s how Tarzan films worked. The skull flies around on a string instead of being CGI enhanced. The Chiodo Brothers (Killer Klowns from Outer Space) create the giant monsters that chase everyone around. They dip into their Land of the Lost revamp bag to create monsters that almost look fearsome. Giving the film the low budget appeal, they make sure we can see the zippers where the guy fits inside the monster suit. The best effect is Jennifer Blaire as Animala. She’s a creature turned into a human thanks to the alien’s zap gun. She brings quite a bit of humor with her a cat-like modern dance move.
The big letdown is when the film goes color as the explorers enter the Valley of the Monsters. They super saturate the colors to give a faux Technicolor hue. This just doesn’t work. Somehow when the film goes color, the shortcomings are magnified. The timing doesn’t click as well. This probably explains why the old black and white vintage jungle films are beloved and the colored ones are mostly forgotten. Director Larry Blamire should have skipped The Wizard of Oz tribute and stuck with the black and white look. The Lost Skeleton Returns Again for the most part is a fine sequel to The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra. It’s a more entertaining jungle action film than Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
The video is 2.35:1 anamorphic. That’s the miracle of Skeletorama. The movie was shot on video using various filters to give it a film look. This softens off the edges. The color scenes are pushed on the color. The audio is stereo. The sound is sharp and doesn’t change when they go to color.
Audio Commentary with Larry Blamire, Andy Parks, Alison Martin, Dan Conroy, Trish Geiger and Bill Russell lets them tell plenty of tales from the jungle location.
Making Lost Skeleton Returns Again (11:37) reunites the cast from the previous movie. Some discuss the issues they had playing their twins after they died in the original film.
Gag Reel (2:44) shows us how you give bottled water to a monster.
The Lost Skeleton Returns Again brings back the low budget jungle adventure film. The exploring action is spiced up with talking skulls, aliens, rubber suit monsters and a cat woman. The dialogue sounds like the mocking lines Mystery Science Theater 3000 would inject into a real film from this era. This is a worthy followup to The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra.
Shout! Factory presents The Lost Skeleton Returns Again. Directed by: Larry Blamire. Starring: Brian Howe, Larry Blamire, Jennifer Blaire and Fay Masterson. Running Time: 92 minutes. Released on DVD: August 17, 2010.
Joe Corey is the writer and director of "Danger! Health Films" currently streaming on Night Flight and Amazon Prime. He's the author of "The Seven Secrets of Great Walmart People Greeters." This is the last how to get a job book you'll ever need. He was Associate Producer of the documentary "Moving Midway." He's worked as local crew on several reality shows including Candid Camera, American's Most Wanted, Extreme Makeover Home Edition and ESPN's Gaters. He's been featured on The Today Show and CBS's 48 Hours. Dom DeLuise once said, "Joe, you look like an axe murderer." He was in charge of research and programming at the Moving Image Archive.