Friday, February 24, 2012

Chillerama (2011)

Title: Chillerama (2011)

Directors: Adam Rifkin, Joe Lynch, Adam Green, Tim Sullivan

Cast: Ray Wise, Eric Roberts, Joel David Moore, Lin Shaye, Kane Hudder, Ron Jeremy, Tim Sullivan


Chillerama is a big ‘fuck you’ to Hollywood. Its four directors saying okay Hollywood, you won’t give us the time of day, then we make our own damn movie, our own damn way! And so these four guys got together and made Chillerama, which is one of the craziest movie anthologies I’ve ever seen, mind you, this does not mean its a good movie, in fact, its the furthest thing from it. But I'm guessing that this is exactly what the directors where aiming for. The film is made up of four stories all glued together by the love of going to your local drive-in, tuning in your radio, snuggling next to your date (while trying to achieve first base) eating some pop-corn and  watching some low brow entertainment. Yes sir, watching a movie in a drive-in cinema is an experience all on its own; too bad they’re going the way of the dinosaur which in part is what Chillerama is all about.

The first segment in Chillerama is called ‘Wadzilla’ and without a doubt, it is the craziest thing you are ever going to see in a while. The insane promise tells the story of Miles Munson, a dude with a very low sperm count; actually he only has one sperm! But low and behold, his doctor gives him an experimental pill that is supposed to strengthen the one sperm he does have. Problem is that this new medicine makes his sperm grow so much that it eventually ends up turning into a huge city destroying monster! The thing about ‘Wadzilla’ is that it’s the best segment of the film, and they open with it. Usually as a rule of thumb anthology films will leave the best story for last, but not on Chillerama’s case, they blew their load so to speak very early on. Chillerama suffered from premature ejaculation! Sorry, I just couldn’t help myself with that one! Too easy. So anyhows, ‘Wadzilla’ was directed by Adam Rifkin who by the way also plays the main character in the film.

Rifkin is the filmmaker behind Detroit Rock City (1999) a.k.a. the second KISS movie, a.k.a. the good KISS movie, in other words, it’s not KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park (1978). Detroit Rock City is a film I find myself revisiting on a regular basis; it has some truly funny moments and lines; one of my favorite being when the kids put some mushrooms on a priests pizza and the priest ends up high as a kite saying things like “Santa, Satan, same letters…same guy!” Rifkin also directed a film called The Dark Backward (1991) which stars Judd Nelson and Bill Paxton; and same as Chillerama, The Dark Backward is as insane as movies get. It’s the story of a stand up comedian (Judd Nelson) whose career suddenly takes off when he grows a third arm on his back! And that aint the half of it!  ‘Wadzilla’ is a pretty funny short film as well, I wasn’t expecting it to go so over the top with its ideas and I wasn’t expecting to be laughing out loud for most of its running time either. The mood for this short is extremely tongue in cheek, it is filled with inside jokes galore and out of all the shorts in Chillerama this is the one with the most cameos. Eric Roberts and Robert Wise are here and they seem to be having a blast through the whole thing. My favorite was Wise who plays his role with tongue firmly placed in cheek. ‘Wadzilla’ was definitely the most amusing of the shorts, it reminded me of films like The Blob (1988). Some of the shots they used when the monster shows up were so reminiscent of monster films from the 80’s. A lot of that probably has to do with the fact that the Chiodo Bros., the guys responsible for Killer Klowns From Outer Space (1988) where the ones responsible for the special effects in ‘Wadzilla’. The resulting effects look purposely cheap, yet entertaining to look at, perfect for a b-movie of this nature.

‘I Was a Teenage Werebear’ is to me the weakest of the stories, its practically unwatchable in my book. It tells the tale of a young man who is going through an evolutionary period in his life. He is going from straight to gay. He suddenly finds himself looking away from his girlfriend and checking out dudes. This confusion is “tearing him apart”. Things get even more complicated when a group of werebears bite him on the ass (literally!) and transform him into one of them. The whole thing serves as an allegory about being true to yourself and showing the world who you really are, instead of keeping it 'in the closet' so to speak. I had a couple of problems with this one. Number one, the werebear make up sucked, I mean, they could have done way better then just painting the actors faces. The make up effects work felt extremely lazy. That could probably have something to do with the low budget nature of this film, but damn, all other films looked better than this one, so I chalk it up to laziness. Second problem I had was that this was trying to be a musical ala Grease (1978) or Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975). The big musical number at the end of the film includes special dance moves and everything, not unlike ‘The Time Warp’ from Rocky Horror; unfortunately the song sucks and so does the dance. The actors can’t even sing, which is really the worst thing that can happen in a musical. And I really mean it, these guys cant sing for shit, and to top things off, the songs are really bad! The film even throws a couple of nudges to The Lost Boys (1987) and everything, but ultimately, ‘I was a Teenage Werebear’ is the weak link of the group. This is actually a surprise since it comes from Tim Sullivan, a veteran producer/director/actor.

Hitler experiments with the re-animation of dead tissue in 'The Diary of Anne Frankenstein'

‘The Diary of Anne Frankenstein’ was directed by Adam Green the director behind the Hatchet films and many others. This is actually the most restrained of all the shorts, yet this doesn’t mean that the segment isn’t without its insanity. According to the film, Anne Frank’s family is actually the Frankenstein family. They simply shortened their name to hide their link to Dr. Frankenstein, the famous scientist who used to experiment with the dead. The family kept the book where he wrote all his secrets on how he managed to bring the dead back to life! And Hitler wants to the book to create his own Frankenstein’s monster! The whole segment is in black and white and is actually quite funny. Joel David Moore does a pretty decent job as Adolf Hitler. He actually pulls a Chaplin on us and makes gibberish sound like German. It was fun to hear which words he could squeeze in there to make things funny. Kane Hodder plays ‘the monster’, which by the way is made up of dead Jewish people. As a result ‘the monster’ (hilariously named ‘Meshugannah’) has a long Jewish beard and sideburn curls. It is never easy doing a comedy about the holocaust, filmmakers usually shy away from attempting to make comedy out of such a horrible moment in history, yet in my opinion, Green achieves it. He makes Hitler look like an ass, and that’s always fun in my book.

‘The Diary of Anne Frankenstein’ is quickly followed by a short, short film; something called ‘Deathification’, it will test the limits of your good taste, the less said about it the better. Finally we get 'Zom-B-Movie' which is the wrap around story of the film, the one that ties all the stories together. This one was directed by Joe Lynch, the guy who made Wrong Turn 2 (2007) and is currently putting the finishing touches on a film called Knights of Badassdom (2012). On ‘Zom-B-Movie’ we basically meet the owner of the drive-in and all his patrons, the people who actually go to the drive-in to see the movies that he plays for them. A slimy (apparently toxic) substance makes its way to the pop corn sold at the drive-in and this in turn makes everyone at the drive-in turn into flesh eating zombies. I liked the look of the zombies on this one: these bastards glow in the dark! This was a pretty cool and energetic segment of the film, which gets pretty graphic and gory. This segment squeezes so many references to other films it’s not even funny! Chillerama was all sorts of fun, essentially these four directors wanted to make a movie that offended as many people as possible in the most gruesome and graphic kind of ways. They applied themselves to Gene Simmons rule for success: offend as many people as possible and success will follow. This movie isn’t for everyone though. I mean, practically every segment (save one) includes masturbation in it, genitalia gets ripped to shreds in more than one segment as well…and well all sorts of bodily fluids get thrown on screen. This movie is for those brave souls who just don’t give a crap about being ‘politically correct’, it’s a film for those people who know how to loosen up, not take themselves too seriously and enjoy a good raunchy time. Just remember, the film isnt Shakespeare and you should be fine! I mean, where else are you going to see a giant sperm screwing the statue of liberty? Nowhere else but on Chillerama that’s where!

Rating: 2 out of 5   

Glow in the dark zombies: neat-o!


Direct to Video Connoisseur said...

I've been meaning to check this out. It looks like a fun time, which is usually plenty enough for me.

Unknown said...

I thoroughly enjoyed this film for, as you pointed out, going all out and not caring who they offended. It really was a fun, tasteless (in the best sense of the word) film. As much as I laughed throught "Wadzilla," I think I liked "The Diary of Anne Frankenstein" just a little more. The attention to detail was nicely done and it was very funny - esp. when Kane Hodder started dancing (?!).

Franco Macabro said...

Yeah, Kane Hodder dancing was totally unexpected, in the extras he says that Adam Green always gets him to do the craziest things with every movie, I think this was Hodder's first attempt at a comedy, which was cool of course.

I laughed so much when Hitler says "Boba Fett" at one point!

venoms5 said...

I hated this movie with a passion, Fran. Horrible, horrible movie. Nothing at all like the drive in experience to me. Hell, the opening credits to MACHETE MAIDENS UNLEASHED alone captured the spirit of the drive in more than the whole of this movie did. The queer bear segment was hearkening back to the old AIP BEACH PARTY series of movies with its singin and dancin; at least that's what I took from it. It looked like they changed actors at some point, too. I think this was the first movie I'd seen that gave me a migraine. Worst $10 I ever wasted. For all the bad reviews, a lot of blogs seem to like it. I did like the cover art and that was about it. Your review was better than the movie, too, Fran!

Franco Macabro said...

I had fun with this movie, most of the time it put a smile on my face, I'm not saying it's the best film ever made, but it has it's moments. I also liked the fact that it was a group effort between four directors.

The only detrimental thing about this film to me was the Werebear segment, not that I'm a homophobe or anything, but it seems like it needed to be worked on more so the final result wouldnt look like shit. I mean, those werebears looked terrible. And the actors...barf-o!


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