Anthology films are far and few between in the horror genre. The majority of the time they are homage pieces which is what Chillerama is. Originally conceived by directors Adam Rifkin and Tim Sullivan as a possible anthology to pay tribute to Forry Ackerman’s Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine. Since the rights transferred and it never worked out for Rifkin & Sullivan, they liked the movie idea so much that they decided to do something with the stories that they had in mind. They, luckily, joined up with Joe Lynch and Adam Green. Image Entertainment brings home Chillerama to DVD and Blu-Ray.
The film is really three segments with a wraparound that becomes the final segment. The film begins with a black and white sequence that is shot like an Ed Wood flick but has the taste of John Waters. This pretty much prepares you for what you have in store for the remaining hour and fifty minutes. We are then introduced to a couple of cars full of characters that are excited to see an all night drive-in horror marathon which acts as the last hurrah for the Kaufman Drive-In.
The wraparound plays out like a love letter to film and drive-in’s in general. Cecil B. Kaufman (get it?) is ready to run his last show and maybe drown his sorrows with some Jack and maybe even go out with a bang. Littered with some sweet shots of film and all the technical aspects of projection which personally got to me because I used to be a projectionist and I miss the handling of film, splicing films together and looking at the make up/break down devices made me think that all these devices might be going away thanks to the advent of digital projection. It seems like this story hit at the right time because it is almost looking like we are near the end of film exhibition.
The first segment in the anthology is Adam Rifkin’s Wadzilla. Miles Munson (Rifkin himself) is put on a new medication to help grow his sperm count. Unfortunately, the medication only makes the one sperm he has grow to gargantuan proportions hence creating Wadzilla. It plays out like a old 50′s or 60′s science run amok film and even though it is cheaply made – you can tell a lot of it is blue screen – it is meant to be that way. Basically, Rifkin used the methods used to create these effects with modern technology. The segment is hilarious and you can tell that Rifkin really put a lot of care into the execution as it looks like an old movie complete with dust and an overtly Technicolor look.
Tim Sullivan’s I Was a Teenage Werebear follows Rifkin’s segment with an ode to beach musicals mixed in with homosexuality. In concept, Sullivan’s entry sounds pretty good and at times the segment is kind of funny. What makes this segment the sore spot in the film is in its execution. I’m not sure if it is because it was shot on a Canon 7D that makes the film look pretty cheap with jittery pans or if it is the quick cut editing and lack of pacing. This would have been better with possibly more development or time to work with the concept. However, it seems way too forced and lacks some of the comedy that was intended. Some of Sullivan’s songs are pretty catchy though – one of which plays during the disc menu. I Was a Teenage Werebear really brings the film down as the homage aspect of the entry just isn’t conveyed too well nor does the whole segment flow very well. It’s during this segment that you might want to have your intermission.
Adam Green’s The Diary of Anne Frankenstein has to pickup the pieces if this film plans on recovering. Luckily, it does. Not only is the title pure genius but it might be one of the funniest shorts/segments I have seen in sometime. While Green definitely made his name known in the horror community with the Hatchet films and one of the best horror films of 2010 with Frozen. Adolf Hitler raids the attic of Anne Frank to acquire the diary of Dr. Frankenstein so he can create an ultimate war machine that has the intelligence to execute plans of invasion and world domination. Green’s monster is played by Victor Crowley himself, Kane Hodder. Not only do we see Kane do some dancing but this might be one of his most comedic physical roles we have seen. The Diary of Anne Frankenstein is pretty damn hilarious based off of Joel David Moore’s ridiculous interpretation of Hitler. All of the cast with the exception of Moore speak genuine German. Moore, however, makes up the language while the subtitles do all the English translation.
When we come back to the Drive-In we start to notice that some attendees who are not feeling too hot. It might be due to the fact that some day-glo (think Mendez’s The Convent) demon semen that got into the popcorn butter. We begin to watch the fourth entry in the horror marathon with Deathication until something goes wrong with the projection. As our two main leads of the wraparound segments, Tobe and Mayna, go to check on Mr. Kaufman to see what might be going on, what follows is Joe Lynch’s actual fourth entry, Zom-B-Movie. We find out that the characters from the wraparound segment become the characters for the last film. Lynch brings his gross-out factor to the table in copious amounts of gore, sexual depravity and, of course, demon semen. The film is littered with movie quotes and pop culture references which at times are pretty funny but after awhile get a bit overbearing. Still, there is a lot of fun and insanity in this last segment that will make you mostly forget about that damn pesky Werebear segment.
Image Entertainment brings home Chillerama to your living room on DVD and Blu-Ray. The film looks great for the most part. There seems to be some frame rate issues in some of the segments but I can’t tell if it is what the segments are shot on or not. I know, from the behind-the-scenes, that Werebear was shot on the Canon 7D and Anne Frankenstein was shot on the Red One. I kind of think that this framerate issue might not be at the fault of Image Entertainment because I see no other issues with the presentation. The image is crystal clear and the audio is well represented here.
This Blu-Ray has tons of special stuff for y’all. There is a Video Commentary with all the directors involved which is great to actually see for a change but I kind of wish there was an option to turn of the video portion as some of the image is covered by it. Also, during the Werebear segment, the commentary fades out in mid-discussion for some reason and comes back about 5 minutes later with no reference on why it happened. There are Behind the Scenes segments for every film except for Wadzilla and Zom-B-Movie which is a shame as I would have liked to seen those. Deleted scenes for some of the segments, two interviews with the directors from Comic-Con that vary in quality.
Chillerama is a great idea that is almost executed well. Sullivan’s segment really brings the film down due to the poor execution and the fact that it didn’t seem to have the same attention of detail as the other segments. However, it is a fun watch overall but one wonders if there was a stronger segment in the place of Sullivan’s. All fans of horror and the drive-in subculture should really dig this flick.