Judge Clark Douglas wishes James Ivory had agreed to direct a segment of this film.
The ultimate midnight movie!
"Look out! The sperm is coming!"
Facts of the Case
The last drive-in theatre in America is about to be shut down, but not before owner Cecil B. Kaufman (Richard Riehle, Office Space) treats an excited audience to a quartet of rare, never-before-seen horror classics. On tap for the evening? The sperm-soaked monster movie Wadzilla, the S&M beach musical I Was a Teenage Werebear, the black-and-white alternate history lesson The Diary of Anne Frankenstein, and the feces-obsessed shocker Deathication. It's going to be a wild, blood-soaked night.
Of all the horror anthologies I've seen, Chillerama is unquestionably the silliest, the goriest, the wildest and the most endearing. I can't say that it's particularly good, but it's kind of thrilling to see the kind of go-for-broke, no-holds-barred gusto which has been put into this childish yet loving tribute to schlocky B-movies. To be sure, it's not for the average viewer: the level of crass humor and bloodshed on display would easily earn the flick an NC-17 rating (it mixes sex and violence more literally than most films, as a frighteningly large number of the death scenes involve genitalia or bodily fluids). After that, those who can stomach the gross-out material the film has to offer will likely be sharply divided on whether or not any of this stuff is actually funny (it never approaches being genuinely scary, though it isn't really supposed to be). A lot of it didn't really work for me, but the general spirit of the thing (particularly in contrast to a cheap, cynical cash-in like George A. Romero's Deadtime Stories) kept me smiling even as I was shaking my head at the groan-worthy gags.
The first segment of the tale is Wadzilla, directed by Adam Rifkin (best-known as the writer of such family-friendly entertainments as Underdog, Zoom, Small Soldiers and Mousehunt). It tells the story of a man named Miles Munson (played by Rifkin himself) who visits a shady urologist (Ray Wise, Twin Peaks) after discovering he has a low sperm count. The urologist gives him some untested medication that eventually leads to Miles going through the painful process of producing a small sperm monster. The monster eventually grows in size, and soon begins roaming the streets attacking citizens. The silly, goopy set-up is basically a springboard for a seemingly endless series of corny sperm-themed jokes (including a cameo by Eric Roberts as "General Bukkake") and concludes on a cheerfully excessive note somewhat reminiscent of both Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask and Monty Python's The Meaning of Life.
Next up is the peculiar I Was a Teenage Werebear, directed by Tim Sullivan (2001 Maniacs). The story follows a closeted teenager (Sean Paul Lockhart, The Porne Ultimatum) who finds himself lusting after one of the local hunks at his high school. The only problem? That hunk is a were-bear who intends to use his supernatural powers to murder everyone at the school. There are certainly some political undercurrents running through the short, but they're far too muddled to be significant. It's probably best to simply enjoy I Was a Teenage Werebear for the campy Beach Blanket Bingo-inspired excess it offers, including a host of cornball musical numbers. The short's tone begins to wear thin pretty quickly and the joke grows old even faster than the, "A giant sperm is running rampant through the city!" bit, but there are a few fun moments scattered throughout.
The most entertaining of the shorts is The Diary of Anne Frankenstein (directed by Adam Green, Hatchet), starring Joel David Moore (Avatar) as a particularly goofy Adolf Hitler. The film plays like a crude collage of several Mel Brooks films, with particularly strong shades of Young Frankenstein, To Be or Not to Be, and The Producers. While most of the actors speak German, Hitler speaks an increasingly silly form of German gibberish, tossing phrases like "Osh Kosh B'Gosh!" and "Boba Fett" into the mix in particularly entertaining fashion. There's certainly some gory material and quite a few cheap gags, but the cinematic anarchy The Diary of Anne Frankenstein offers is more consistently entertaining than any other short.
Thankfully, the fourth film is something of a fake-out. Deathication comes with an amusing introduction courtesy of John Waters look-a-like Fernando Phagabeefy (actually director Joe Lynch, Wrong Turn 2: Dead End), who warns the audience about the horrors they're about to experience in entertaining fashion (Phagabeefy claims to have helmed a variety of wretched horror flicks, including Salo 2: The Next Day). The actual footage we see is a nasty, unfunny series of gags involving explosive defecation, but that film is quickly cut off as we segue back into the framing sequence for a considerably more entertaining story featuring horny zombies. The finale of this sequence is particularly entertaining, as the energetic Riehle spews every famed movie one-liner he can conjure while blasting away at the deadly undead. It starts off as yet another sigh-inducing gag, but Riehle sticks with it so valiantly that eventually it doubles back into something terribly enjoyable.
Chillerama (Blu-ray) arrives sporting a perfectly sufficient 1.78:1/1080p transfer. Much like Grindhouse, this looks intentionally dingy much of the time. Wadzilla has the scuzzy look of a weathered '70s flick (complete with loads of scratches and flecks), I Was a Teenage Werebear looks soft and over saturated and The Diary of Anne Frankenstein looks generally worn-out and scratchy. Likewise, the DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track offers a good bit of hiss, distortion, crackling, popping and other "flaws" at times. Things are exactly as they're supposed to be, though the framing sequence looks and sounds solid (save for a moment moments of distortion in the dialogue—pretty sure those weren't intentional). Supplements include a video commentary with all four directors, deleted scenes, a pair of making-of featurettes (spotlighting The Diary of Anne Frankenstein and I Was a Teenage Werebear), a pair of brief Comic-Con Interviews with the quartet of directors (running 12 minutes combined) and some trailers for the assorted short films.
You know whether or not Chillerama is the sort of thing you want to see (if you're not sure, the answer is almost certainly, "do not watch this movie under any circumstances"). If this is your cup of tea, you'll probably be pleasantly surprised.
Very guilty, but don't let that stop you.
Give us your feedback!
What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
Scales of Justice
Studio: Anchor Bay
Review content copyright © 2011 Clark Douglas; Site design and review layout copyright © 2014 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.