Starring Richard Riehle, Adam Rifkin, Ray Wise, Eric Roberts, Joel David Moore, Kristina Klebe, Kane Hodder, Anton Troy, Brent Corrigan, Lin Shaye, Adam Robitel, Ron Jeremy, Ed Ackerman, AJ Bowen, Remy Lynch, Briana McKay Lynch, Joe Lynch, Tim Sullivan, Laura Ortiz, Alice Haig
Directed by Adam Rifkin, Tim Sullivan, Adam Green, Joe Lynch
Aiming to replicate the crazy attitudes and crowd-pleasing excess of the drive-in era, genre darlings Adam Rifkin, Tim Sullivan, Adam Green and Joe Lynch come together with a selection of short films to produce the uniquely bonkers Chillerama.
With fun as the overriding mantra, Chillerama’s middle three segments find themselves presented as films-within-the-film of Joe Lynch’s Zom-B-Movie. Richard Riehle stars there as Cecil Kaufman, a cinema lover facing the final night of operation at his beloved drive-in theatre. To send the old place off, he’s airing four unearthed pieces of never-before-seen schlock, but as the punters arrive, a member of his staff has found himself infected with a particularly nasty zombie virus after some unsuccessful corpse-rape sees him forcibly neutered. Dripping with neon goo, he sets about infecting anything he comes into contact with – including the butter for the popcorn. What happens next we’ll just have to wait for as the first segment opens with Adam Rifkin’s Wadzilla.
A take on the 50s atomic-age monster movies, Wadzilla follows Rifkin himself as Miles Munson, a man suffering from an improbably low sperm count. In fact, each time he ejaculates, he only produces a single sperm cell! Enter the benevolent Dr. Weems (Ray Wise), who introduces Miles to an experimental drug designed to strengthen his sperm and aid fertility. Of course it doesn’t particularly go to plan as soon after Miles finds himself in extreme pain any time he is aroused. Returning to the doctor, it’s found that the drug has been exponentially increasing the size of each single sperm he produces. Right now it’s larger than an actual tadpole so Dr. Weems takes Miles off the drugs.
It’s already too late, however, so as Miles arrives for a blind date set up by his friend, he rushes to the bathroom in crippling pain aiming for some manual relief. Cue a wonderfully realised stop-motion sperm creature that, once expelled from his urethra, sets about eating anything and anyone it can get near to. As the monster increases in size and the military are eventually called in, Wadzilla develops into a riotously irreverent piece of cinematic nonsense brought to life with some lovingly old-school creature effects courtesy of Killer Klowns from Outer Space’s Chiodo Brothers. Nowhere else will you see a giant condom being lowered over the Statue of Liberty, Eric Roberts in a slanted military helmet barking orders to begin “Operation Money Shot” down a military walkie-talkie, or legendary actors such as he and Ray Wise literally drenched in gallons of semen. Simply put, Wadzilla is a criminally entertaining gross-out masterpiece.
Up next is Tim Sullivan’s I Was a Teenage Werebear. In the style of 1960s musicals, Sullivan weaves a tale of high schooler Ricky (Lockhart). Struggling with latent homosexuality, he finds his urges more difficult to control when rebel rocker Talon (Troy) arrives on the scene. When Talon bites Ricky on the butt during a wrestling match, he realises that – Lost Boys style – he’s been forcibly initiated into a gang of otherworldly creatures: Werebears! We’re not talking Brown or Silverback here, though. We’re talking leather caps, bellies, beards, chains and assless chaps. As Talon and his gang set into motion a plan to slaughter the human population in retaliation for their non-acceptance, Ricky has to decide where his loyalties lie and how he will stop the impending massacre.
Sullivan’s piece is quite possibly the most legitimately gay piece of film you’re ever likely to see. Refreshingly eschewing camp in favour of some well hidden but nonetheless sincere observations behind coming to terms with homosexuality, it can tend to become somewhat mired in a preachy attitude, but, like Wadzilla before it, I Was a Teenage Werebear remains far more entertaining than it has any right to be. Some of the musical numbers are great, even if there is maybe one too many packed into the short runtime, and Sullivan’s direction is almost spot-on in its emulation of the genre. Comedy is occasionally much too broad, and it runs out of steam shortly before it is due to end. Not the best of the bunch, it nonetheless remains a humorous yet genuine excursion into the world of homosexual awakening with a metaphor that fits surprisingly well.
Up next is Adam Green’s utterly fantastic The Diary of Anne Frankenstein. Shot in black and white, and with a distinct Mel Brooks feel, this one sees Adolf Hitler (Joel David Moore) and his Nazi goons discover and kill Anne Frankenstein (no, not Anne Frank!) and her family in their attic hidey-hole. From them he obtains the diary of their grandfather – the late, great Victor Frankenstein! Using the knowledge therein, he creates his own very Jewish creature – the Meshugganuh (Hodder). As expected, things go fatally wrong for poor old Hitler as his monster goes on the rampage.
Shot with an entirely German-speaking cast save for Moore and Hodder, Green’s film is an exercise in pure bad taste and one of the most screamingly hilarious pieces of film you’ll see all year. The gags, both visual and spoken, come thick, fast, and frequently – increasing in rapid delivery as the ending approaches. Laugh out loud moments include a stuntman’s suddenly changing race (and his reaction to falling on a table before the film cuts away too late), and the Meshugganuh literally walking out and around the sets to locate the cowering Hitler. Speaking of Hitler, having been given no written lines to learn, and not understanding a word of German, Moore is forced to make up his own stream-of-consciousness rambling as dialogue and make it sound like he is speaking German. The sheer randomness of some of the things he comes out with (“Boba Fett!”, “Osh Kosh Begosh!”) almost guarantee repeat viewings of The Diary of Anne Frankenstein will remain consistently rewarding as you pick them out – a good thing as you’ll be fighting the temptation to watch it again just as soon as the final shot fades out. A tighter beast than in the previous Preview Cut, this is magnificent stuff — off the charts in entertainment value, and easily the best of the entire Chillerama lot.
As we move back into Lynch’s wraparound segment, the audience is treated to another quick short from the man that isn’t mentioned anywhere but inside Chillerama – the scatological Deathecation. Introduced by its fictional director, Fernando Phagabeefy, as the most horrifying piece of filmmaking ever conceived, Deathecation is guaranteed to harness the power of brown noise and, quite literally, scare the shit out of you. Only glimpsed for a few minutes before the climax of Zom-B-Movie kicks in, Deathecation is an absolute shitfest. Literally. There’s shit everywhere: Flying out of people’s asses, hitting against walls, flying around with seemingly malicious intent and rotating glibly against pastel backgrounds. Childish, puerile, yet utterly brilliant, it feels birthed from the same stables of bodily function comedy geniuses Trey Parker and Matt Stone. You’ll want Deathecation playing on a loop at the background to all of your drunken parties, and having it fall in straight after the laugh riot that was Green’s entry leaves little room to catch your breath.
So with the screening of Deathecation rudely interrupted by a zombie outbreak, the punters find themselves fighting for their lives and virginity against a rampaging mob of neon blood and cum spurting rape zombies. Not only mutilating their victims, but fucking them in every natural and torn-open orifice, Zom-B-Movie caps off in grand style. Fluids abound, and when the beleaguered Kaufman unleashes his arsenal of hidden weapons to go out like a hero, it truly feels like the entirety of Chillerama going out with a bang. Lynch’s piece isn’t perfect, though – the knowing excess and flippant attitude remove the sense of threat to such a degree that any layer of horror remains difficult to locate, and the climactic orgy of zombie rape and murder nearly finds itself lost amidst a sea of quick cuts and rushed urgency. A better look at some of the admittedly hilarious sexual situations taking place in these shots would have been appreciated.
It’s not perfect by any means, but as a piece of cinematic subversion Chillerama is right on the mark – something that has to be seen to be believed. Interestingly, for the most part it succeeds as a parody or loving lampoonery of the type of grindhouse flicks that populated the golden era of the drive-in rather than the direct emulation it purports to be: a tonal criticism that may find those expecting films quite literally akin to those from the era being sorely disappointed. For complete enjoyment Chillerama also demands a certain frame of mind (read: intoxicated), and the appeal will most certainly be lost on many. Solo viewings will likely prove underwhelming, but a wild success on the party circuit is absolutely assured. For Rifkin, Sullivan, Green and Lynch, then, it’s Mission Accomplished!
3 1/2 out of 5