“It’s impossible, but it would appear that the Spermupermine has had an adverse effect on your system. It’s not only strengthening your spermatozoa, but it’s causing it to grow to gargantuan proportions.”
I definitely have a soft spot for the horror anthologies; they’re the equivalent of cinema short stories. Some of the best horror anthology movies were Creepshow, Tales from the Crypt, Tales from the Darkside: The Movie, The House That Dripped Blood, Trick ‘R Treat, Asylum, Body Bags, Dead of Night and Black Sabbath. I mention this because if you are fond of horror anthologies, watch these. However, if you have a taste for bad taste (I’m talking early John Waters bad taste), if you can’t get enough of Grindhouse style B-Movie tributes, if you crave countless NC-17 style sex horror gags topped with an insane fecal spectacle, then I am happy to say Chillerama is your Holy Grail… well, er… more like Unholy Grail.
Directors Adam Rifkin (Detroit Rock City; The Dark Backward), Tim Sullivan (2001 Maniacs), Adam Green (Hatchet; Frozen) and Joe Lynch (Wrong Turn 2; Knights of Badassdom) take turns spoofing and paying tribute to B-grade Drive-in movie creature features. Chillerama originally premiered at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery and then began a 20-city road show tour developing a cult following before this release on Blu-ray. It follows the basic setup of the classic anthology with three and a quarter short films (Deathication isn’t really a complete short) with a framing story tying them all together.
It begins with the framing story, director Joe Lynch’s Zom-B-Movie. After opening with a cheesetastic over-the-top zombie necrophilia sequence, setting up Patient Zero in the coming zombie apocalypse, we enter the wraparound set piece, the final all night movie marathon at Kaufman’s Drive-In before it shuts its doors the next morning and developers bulldoze it to the ground. The drive-in’s owner, Cecil B. Kaufman (Richard Riehle), has opened the vaults of his private collection and is screening a marathon of rare one-of-a-kind prints. Meanwhile Floyd (Miles Dougal), our Patient Zero, returns to his job at Kaufman’s and infects the popcorn butter with zombie goo.
The first movie screened is Wadzilla, my personal favorite. A homage to giant monster movies of the Fifties that was written, directed by and starring Adam Rifkin. Miles Munson (Rifkin) has been turned down by sperm banks due to his lack thereof. He visits chain-smoking quack Dr. Weems (the great Ray Wise) who puts him on an experimental drug to increase not the amount of sperm, but the strength of what’s there. The drug backfires and Miles begins producing giant spermatozoa. When one escapes during an insanely awkward blind date, it grows to gargantuan size and devastates New York City (where else?). As with all of the shorts in Chillerama, the concept sounds much funnier on paper than it turns out. Still it is fun with its cheesy effects and endless spooge jokes. Eric Roberts’ cameo is jarringly unflattering; he must have been completely trashed when they shot it.
After a brief return to the drive-in we are introduced to Tim Sullivan’s I was a Teenage Werebear. Set in the style of a 1960s beach party movie, it blends lycanthropy with homosexuality, the “bear” in werebear, being the big, hairy gay kind. Kudos to Sullivan for making it a musical, but couldn’t he at least found actors who could carry a tune? Again, sounds great in concept, but the finished product? Not so much.
Next is the fan favorite, Adam Green’s Diary of Anne Frankenstein. A tasteless tribute to the 1940s horror shot in glorious black and white. Hitler (Joel David Moore) retrieves the diary of Doctor Frank(enstein) to make super soldiers. He ends up creating a Golem called Meshugganah (Jason himself, Kane Hodder) who has his own ideas about what to do to “The Master Race.” The gag is while the rest of the cast speaks in German (with English subtitles) Hitler just speaks German-sounding gibberish (also with subtitles). Again, great idea, meh production.
During the screening of Deathication, a mercifully short series of disgusting poop shots, the zombies in the drive-in take over, setting up the final sequence of the framing story. This was actually some of the best stuff in Chillerama as the leads Tobe (Corey Jones) and Mayna (Kaili Thorne) have real chemistry between them and actually play quite likable characters. The climax (pun intended) is a NC-17 plus zombie orgy with tons of gore and goo.
It is very hard to judge the 1080p MPEG4/AVC encoded image, formatted at a 1.78:1 aspect ratio and running at an average of 17Mbps, because the directors went all Grindhouse and deliberately distressed the images to appear like damaged prints. Zom-B-Movie, however, is the most naturalistic of the bunch and boasts decent detail in dark scenes and layered stable blacks. The colors are slightly muted in the car interiors, but vibrant in the drive-in concession stand and projector’s booth.
The 5.1 DTS lossless soundtrack for Chillerama, much like the video, varies greatly from short to short. Again the Zom-B-Movie framing story is the most contemporary and is deeply immersive in the surround channels. LFE is booming when needed, and the dialog is decently balanced with the soundtrack and SFX.
- Directors’ Video Commentary: Rifkin, Green, Sullivan and Lynch provide detailed commentary that can also be watched in the upper left-hand quadrant of the screen. A feature I find distracting and particularly useless.
- The Making of “The Diary of Anne Frankenstein” (23:18: HD): An in-depth making-of longer than the short film it is profiling. It covers all aspects of the production including the extent they went to avoid treating the historical Anne Frank disrespectfully. Moore explains the challenges of speaking gibberish German.
- “Wadzilla” Deleted Scenes (6:05: HD): Seven cut scenes all together. Mostly interesting to see the unfinished SFX.
- “I Was a Teenage Werebear”
- Behind the Scenes (22:00: HD): An exhaustive account of the making of the beach party style musical composed of interviews with writer-director Sullivan, co-producer Brian McCulley, composer Patrick Copeland, stars Lockhart and Troy and most of the rest of the cast.
- Deleted Scenes (14:28: HD): Twelve scenes. Including extended or additional musical numbers, including an alternate ending. Cover your ears.
- “Zom-B-Movie” Deleted Scenes (4:03: HD): Three scenes. The first is from “Deathication”; yech. The second expands on Kaufman’s routine before starting the evening’s show. The third has Kaufman counseling Toby on his feelings for Mayna.
- Famous Monsters (5:42: HD): Interviews conducted with the four directors at Comic-Con on July 22, 2011 for www.famousmonstersoffilmland.com.
- Salfen Comic-Con Interview (7:52: SD): Interviews with the directors giving an overview to webmaster Paul Salfen.
- Chillerama (2:14: HD)
- I Was a Teenage Werebear (2:02: HD)
- Wadzilla (2:40: HD)
This movie is not for the faint of heart. It takes the sexual horrors way over the top. If you like movies like John Waters’ Pink Flamingos and Troma films you will enjoy this. I only wish it truly capitalized on the concepts and was funnier. Poor writing plagues the production, but you can tell the directors’ hearts were in the right places, and there is no doubting their love for the source material they are spoofing. The film references and quotes are relentless to the point of growing annoying, but there is no denying these directors’ love for drive-in B-Movies. If you don’t mind complete schlock, it has its moments.
“I’m thinking it’s time for a little bit of dead head.”