There was so much to admire about Chillerama before I even got a chance to screen the film. First, there were the directors which included Adam Green (Frozen), Joe Lynch (Wrong Turn 2), Adam Rifkin (Detroit Rock City) and Tim Sullivan (2001 Maniacs). Second, there was the poster. A throw back to the wonderful art pieces of the 70’s (Detroit Rock City had a similar stellar one sheet). And then there was the premise: each of the four directors would direct a horror short that would be incorporated into an anthology much like Creepshow did back in the 1980’s. Brilliant.
The film opens with cars entering the Cecil B. Kaufman drive-in theatre on what is to be the venues closing evening. There, four films will be trod out to the public for their ghoulish delight. (Ok. Ok. The film actually opens with a theatre employee digging up his exes’ grave and then having his penis bit off, but that opening didn’t really jump start the premise).
We begin with Wadzilla. A wonderfully funny tale about a loser who takes medicine which eventually turns his sperm into frightful creature that attacks New York City. Eric Roberts and Ray Wise both lend their mocking talents to this send up of old B-monster movies and the execution in the humor (as directed by Rifkin) was spot on hilarious at points.
Next up was ‘I was a Teenage Werebear’ by Tim Sullivan. A send up everything from Teen Wolf to Lost Boys to Glee, I was a Teenage Werebear quickly erodes the fun established in Wadzilla and draws out a long, unfunny and tedious entry that had our fingers precariously close to the ‘FFwd’ button on the DVD remote.
Adam Green’s The Diary of Anne Frankenstein followed and the black and white comedy which attempted to mix the Frankenstein story with the Diary of Anne Frank was a mitigated disaster. Devoid of laughs and with scenes that carried on far past their expiry date, The Diary of Anne Frankenstein was a 5-minute Saturday Night Live sketch drawn out to 20-minutes of audience agony.
Luckily Joe Lynch was available to wrap things up with Zom-B-Movie. The concluding chapter had all the nudity, violence and tongue-in-cheek talk that make B-movies horribly watchable. Zombie films have become as boring as a Kardashian dating schedule, but Lynch throws in the premise that these zombies like to have sex and the biting and bloodletting gets equal screen time with the frolicking and fucking.
Chillerama ends with the directors all together in a theatre themselves discussing what they just saw in a meta twist that would have been more fun had the movie(s) in front of it been something of note.
Chillerama will have to go down as one of the bigger disappointments of 2011. I appreciate at great lengths the talent that was involved behind the camera(s) and the fact that they had free reign and ended up stretching ideas far beyond tolerable levels has to be considered a failure. Imagine the geek interest in seeing a film with four revered directors in a horror anthology only to be presented with hit and miss (more miss than hit) shorts that fail to expand each director’s talents as evidenced by their individual resumes.
Still, it’s not a complete waste. Just watch Wadzilla, then forward through I was a Teenage Werebear and The Diary of Anne Frankenstein and catch the closing Zom-B-Movie. Hey, two out of four ain’t that bad.