Starring Richard Riehle, Corey Jones, Kaili Thorne, Ray Wise, Joel David Moore, Kristina Klebe, Ron Jeremy, Eric Roberts
Directed by Adam Green, Joe Lynch, Adam Rifkin, Tim Sullivan
Distributed by Image Entertainment
As far as genre anthologies go, CHILLERAMA has got a great hook in an age where nostalgia is leading horror fans by the hand as they retrace their steps through video store aisles and gravel-filled lots at the dusty drive-ins of yesteryear. Over the past few years we’ve seen a major resurgence in anthology films with the format always playing well within the horror genre in particular, perhaps thanks to its roots in short form radio serials of the 40s and 50s. For many fans out there, the horror anthology trend definitely peaked during in the ’80s with such classics as CREEPSHOW and TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE being two of the more revered. But now a handful of genre filmmakers have joined forces to pay tribute to these films with a new collection called CHILLERAMA .
Set at the fictional Kaufman Drive-In’s last night of operation, CHILLERAMA finds the weary proprietor (Richard Riehle) dusting off some ‘lost’ grindhouse-style films to send it out in a marathon blaze of glory. Right before things kick off at Kaufman’s, we see one of the drive-in employees gets his penis ripped off by the reanimated corpse of his ex-girlfriend (whom he intends to get some belated ‘mouth hugs’ from), setting the demented and ooey-gooey tone for CHILLERAMA.
The anthology rolls on with Adam Rifkin’s WADZILLA which finds Miles Munson (played by Rifkin himself) taking an experimental drug on the advice of his doctor (Ray Wise) to raise his sperm count. Instead of helping Miles fertility issues, it only makes his sperm grow in size, so when he blows his load, he actually gives birth to a giant semen monster intent on devouring everything it its path. To say you need a towel for this segment is an understatement.
Next up in CHILLERAMA is Tim Sullivan’s I WAS A TEENAGE WEREBEAR which is a tale of sexual confusion with becoming a werewolf being an allegory for homosexuality. Despite this segment not really being my cup of tea (the musical numbers tend to get a bit cumbersome on the ears and your patience towards the end), I must applaud Sullivan’s bold attempt at doing something true to himself and something truly unique.
Following WEREBEAR is Adam Green’s DIARY OF ANNE FRANKENSTEIN which concerns Hitler’s attempt to craft his own monster in order to win World War II based on a design he finds in the famed diary of Anne Frank (the family removed the “Stein” in order to distance themselves from their wacky scientific predecessors). And finally, Joe Lynch puts on the proverbial cherry on top of CHILLERAMA by having a horny zombie horde attack the drive-in patrons at Kaufman’s during the wrap-around segment called ZOM-B-MOVIE.
CHILLERAMA’s audacious and demented approach is both its best and worst enemy all at the same time. While many of its concepts are the work of some kind of mad genius, some elements (such as a bizarre interlude that plays as an ode to defecation) fall flat. Sometimes, the humor that the four directors have cooked up for fans mostly work as I laughed early and often at the sheer splatstick absurdity of it all (especially during WADZILLA), with some of the humor even transcending the low-brow most of the film is aimed towards. CHILLERAMA is often silly but it also manages to spoof the drive-in spirit and captures those memories most of us have perfectly by inundating us in its bygone culture between the film segments–snack bar drama, the horny couples in the backseats, the vintage promos, the concession lines- you name it. Clearly, these four directors have a love for the drive-in culture and who could blame them? It’s a national pastime that should be celebrated and CHILLERAMA does that in spades.
On Blu-Ray, the presentation of CHILLERAMA by Image Entertainment is just the bee’s knees. The high definition presentation is very strong, revealing a vibrant color palette and vivid detail with the fluids and colors popping, the blacks looking strong and murky and overall picture quality being sublime (which is a bit odd when you think about the fact that this a movie celebrating grindhouse flicks and the non-HD world of cinema).
Image has packed the CHILLERAMA Blu-Ray with a ton of supplemental material too including video commentaries from the directors, deleted scenes, making-of features for DIARY OF ANNE FRANKENSTEIN and I WAS A TEENAGE WEREBEAR, deleted scenes for each segment, director interviews, and trailers for both CHILLERAMA as a whole and for the individual segments as well. For the fans out there, this is a nice package that’ll keep you busy for quite some time after you’ve enjoyed CHILLERAMA itself.
The CHILLERAMA Blu-Ray is definitely worth picking up for those of you who love your genre flicks with a bit of nostalgia and are game for one of the most insane and quirkiest films of recent years. CHILLERAMA’s hits far outweigh its misses and overall should prove to be a crowd-pleaser for most of you horror fans out there!
Movie- 3 out of 5
Special Features- 4 out of 5
Writer’s Note: In the interest of full disclosure, I do appear for a few seconds during the final moments of CHILLERAMA. As I was on assignment for a set visit during the filming of the last segment, director Tim Sullivan asked me to sit in on the scene and be a part of the crowd. Since it’s not a “role” and I’m not even featured really, I didn’t feel like it was huge conflict of interest to review CHILLERAMA fairly.