Film Review: Chillerama

You Wanted The Best, You Got The Best

You Wanted The Best, You Got The Best

Horror anthologies, when done correctly, can be wonderful things. Black Sabbath, Tales from the Crypt, Creepshow, and Trick ‘r Treat are all shining examples of anthology done right. When made by people who don’t understand the form and function of anthology, however, the results can descend quickly into Creepshow 3 territory.  When I heard that Chillerama was being made, with segments directed by Adam Rifkin (Detroit Rock City), Tim Sullivan (2001 Maniacs), Adam Green (Hatchet), and Joe Lynch (Wrong Turn 2), I was hopeful that these current-generation horror masters wouldn’t disappoint. While it may not be the next Creepshow, Chillerama turned out to be a fun, gory throwback to Grindhouse sensibilities and Troma-esque gratuity. *Minor spoilers below*

Chillerama starts with a wraparound, anchored by the story of the last night of business for the Kaufman (ahem) Drive-In.  Its owner, Cecil Kaufman, (a fantastic Richard Riehle) is planning on going out with a bang, showing rare and never-before-screened horror films.  The screening doesn’t begin when scheduled; due to a bit of attempted necrophilia that ends with a very unfortunate zombie bite, the projectionist is running late.  He arrives, however, dripping day-glo blue fluid from what’s left of his crotch. Things don’t seem like they’ll be ending well, but the show must go on, and the evening’s programming begins… but not before some self-lovin’ and an open can of popcorn butter sets in motion an undead apocalypse… Yes folks, this is Chillerama.

The insanity only builds from there, starting with Adam Rifkin’s Wadzilla.  A throwback to 50’s atomic monster films, mixed with the sophomoric body humor of the best/worst Troma films, Wadzilla is the story of Miles Munson (Rifkin), a milquetoast man with an unfortunately low sperm count. Under the direction of his doctor (Ray Wise), Miles is given an experimental fertility drug.  Instead of increasing his sperm count, it grows the one sperm he has into atomic proportions! Soon, the evil seed is on the loose, wreaking havoc on the entire city.  The humor in this segment is over the top, with ridiculous puns and increasingly gooey gross-outs.  The special effects are obvious (on purpose) and beautifully practical, designed by Killer Klowns From Outer Space’s creators, the Chiodo Brothers.

The next feature up is Tim Sullivan’s I Was a Teenage Werebear. Sullivan’s entry in the anthology is a mash-up of beach blanket musicals and the “I Was a Teenage Put-Random-Monster-Here” films. Werebear tells the story of Ricky (Sean Paul Lockheart), a high school student who hasn’t been able to focus on his girlfriend, distracted mostly by his fascination with the school’s number one tough guy, Talon (Anton Troy).  After being bitten on the ass by Talon during a wrestling match, Ricky discovers that his sexuality may not be the only thing having an effect on him; he’s changing into a beast… an aggressively homosexual beast.  Featuring some funny-but-not-hilarious songs (yes, this is a musical) and a fairly amusing role for genre favorite Lin Shaye as a gypsy, I Was a Teenage Werebear is a mostly love-it-or-hate-it affair. The segment is a full-on musical, with performances that range from decent to “supposed to be crappy” terrible. I mostly enjoyed this segment, but understand that it won’t be appealing for everyone.  I feel that this one ran on a bit too long, but didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the film.

Joel David Moore & Kane Hodder
Joel David Moore & Kane Hodder

Adam Green’s The Bride of Anne Frankenstein is next, and is probably the most enjoyable entry in the anthology. In an attempt to create a super-soldier to defeat the Allies, Adolf Hitler (Joel David Moore) slaughters the family of Victor Frankenstein, to acquire the mad doctor’s secret to life.  Instead of a killing machine, Hitler creates a Jewish monster, Meshugannah (Kane Hodder, everyone’s favorite “Jason”), who seems much more dangerous to his creator than to Hitler’s enemies. This segment is a riot; from Moore’s Hitler being a slapstick buffoon, to the fact that everyone EXCEPT Moore is speaking real German (the nonsense that comes out of Hitler’s mouth is hilarious).  The humor is spot on, and Green should be commended for the fact that the hilarity never wears out its welcome.

The last film showing at Kaufman’s Drive-In, Deathecation (a brief tribute/satire to the shock cinema of John Waters), is interrupted by a zombie apocalypse, set in motion by the theatre’s now-fully-undead projectionist. Zom-B-Movie, as the wrap-around is revealed to be titled, turns into a full on zombie orgy, climaxing with Riehle dealing out the lead… and movie quotes. Zom-B-Movie is a lot of fun, with most of its story played out between each film, and then wrapping up to form the end of Chillerama. Joe Lynch has a great sense of humor, and Riehle’s quote-spewing zombie killer is definitely a high point in the whole anthology.

This is Chillerama!

This is Chillerama!

Chillerama has a lot to offer, despite some minor faults that collectively inhibit it from being a classic in the horror anthology canon. Some of the segments run on too long, some of the humor falls flat, and the horror aspects never do more than provide fodder for laughs; however, those looking for a fun, gross flick to watch with a few beers and friends could do a lot worse than Chillerama. The prevailing atmosphere holds a wicked sense of glee and genuine love for drive-in culture, 80’s gore, and horror movie sensibility. Rifkin, Sullivan, Green, and Lynch have delivered a fun, feisty, original popcorn flick… but maybe you’d better check that popcorn first…

Rating: 3.5/5 ★★★½☆ 


About Nathan_E

Nathan Erdel is a screenwriter. He wrote Headless and some other stuff. He likes beer, metal, pizza, and horror. He has three cats and one wife.

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