Chillerama (Blu-ray / DVD)
Directed by Adam Green, Joe Lynch, Adam Rifkin, Tim Sullivan
Distributed by Image Entertainment
Chillerama is often described as an ode to Troma. And while Troma serves as the undoubted basis for much of what happens throughout this wacked out horror anthology, it’s an assessment that doesn’t properly convey the scope of it. There’s plenty of bad taste happening here - so much so that I couldn’t properly begin to convey all of the depravity – but there’s lots of style too. Chillerama isn’t so much about aping Troma as much as it wants to celebrate everything about the genre. The overall experience may feel a bit uneven and overlong, but there’s no denying its heart isn’t in the right place.
The main storyline concerns the most hygienically appalling zombie outbreak in recent memory set amidst a drive-in’s closing night. The contagion gradually spreads to infect all patrons in between three ‘feature’ films - Wadzilla (mutated sperm), I Was a Teenage Werebear (gay werewolves) and The Diary of Anne Frankenstein (self explanatory). Finally, the drive-in becomes overrun with horny zombies and our protagonists quickly find themselves trapped in the final short, Zom-B-Movie.
As the titles alone may suggest: no one is taking any this very seriously. The movies range between 20-25 minutes each and all of them have some merit. Wadzilla tackles the nature-run-amok tropes of the 1950s rather well and writer/director Adam Rifkin (who also stars) captures the innocence and naiveté of the era quite nicely, while slathering the whole thing in gobs of sticky jizz. The jizz monster is a real charmer, brought to life through the majesty of the Chiodo bros, it’s something you’ve simply got to see. Of course, Chillerama was done on a very limited budget, and the film goes out of its way to remind its audience that it’s well aware of this.
Easily the least successful segment of the film is Tim Sullivan’s I Was a Teenage Werebear. The idea is delightful: homosexual werewolves as a metaphor for a young man’s coming out. It just smacks of one-note and has nowhere left to go as soon as it begins. Sullivan outfits his film with a retro 60s vibe that instantly recalls those beach comedies with Frankie Avalon, and there are some amusing sight gags throughout (a werewolf impales a victim with his fully erect and pink penis, for example) – it just goes on far too long. This should’ve been a 10 minute skit, not a 25 minute short film.
Thankfully, we’re back on track with Adam Green’s The Diary of Anne Frankenstein. Here’s a hilarious turn from Joel David Moore as Adolf Hitler, as his plans to create an unstoppable creature (Kane Hodder) are finally realized. An ode to the Universal creature features of the 1930s, even Green’s skit runs a bit too long for its own good, although the wonderfully un-PC approach to WWII more than makes up for any shortcomings.
The best thing about Chillerama is its sincere love for the genre. The humor doesn’t always work (a healthy dose of it feels forced) but everyone involved is clearly having a good time. That doesn’t always guarantee the viewer will, but in this case it’s true. This smacks of a bunch of friends getting together and messing around – that’s all it is – and with those expectations in mind, there’s enough good stuff on display here to warrant a viewing. Providing the oodles and oodles of bodily excrement don’t deter you.
The jizz, shit and blood flies fast and furious with Image’s Chillerama Blu-ray. The 1080p presentation looks great amidst the fluctuating visual styles. For example, Wadzilla’s PQ has been ‘degraded’ with lots of stylized rips, specs and tears – but not at the expense of quality. The black-and-white Anne Frankenstein offers stark contrast, even if that film was converted to B&W in post, while texture remains prevalent. This is a nice-looking disc for those of you looking to add Chillerama to your BD collections.
On the audio front, things come off very well. At first glance, there may be some inconsistencies, but that is by design (similar to the picture degradation). With the exception of Werebear, dialogue is clean and well separated (the aforementioned skit often sounds murky), with music maintaining a presence without ever overpowering. This 5.1 DTS HD track sounds great when it’s being utilized (mainly in Zom-B-Moive), but it’s often intentionally reserved. Doesn’t make it any less impressive.
Any fan of Chillerama is going to want to put their hands on this well-priced and nicely packed little disc. The video commentary from all four directors (Green, Lynch, Rifkin, Sullivan) is a nice listen: informative and enjoyable. A simple audio commentary would’ve sufficed as the video component adds very little to the experience, but the content is up to snuff. There’s also a making of Anne Frankenstein which runs a little north of 20 minutes and features interviews with Adam Green and actors Joel David Moore and Kane Hodder. A likeable little discussion. Some deleted scenes from Wadzilla and Werebear are next on the list. Wadzilla’s stuff plays like extended versions of existing scenes while Werebear showcases some excised musical numbers – yawn! We also get a 20 minute making of Werebear which is about as good as the film itself.
Rounding out the set is a handful of Zom-B-Movie deleteds and short interviews with all four directors. There’s a trailer gallery consisting of Chillerama, I Was a Teenage Werebear and Wadzilla.
Chillerama doesn’t have any illusions as to what kind of film it is. And neither should you. Undoubtedly, this will play best in a packed theater loaded with horror fans. But fans of these directors will find enough to enjoy so that Chillerama can work in living rooms, too (hell, it has no choice). Now, someone hurry up and fulfill the promise of giving the world Salo 2: The Next Day.
3 out of 5
3 1/2 out of 5