Chillerama (2011)

Directed By: Various
Directed By: Various
Starring: Adam Rifkin
  Ray Wise
  Eric Roberts
  Lin Shaye

‘Trashy’. ‘Cheesy’. ‘Clichéd’. Chillerama has not been given an easy ride by reviewers. And maybe they’re right to jump to these conclusions – but Chillerama wasn’t made to win any prizes or to impress with beautiful cinematography or great acting. This project was made for the simplest of reasons: four film nerds coming together to pay homage to the 50s, 60s and 70s drive-in movies.

Chillerama consists of four individual genre pieces, each directed by someone different, and each of which represents the four directors’ love for ‘cheesy’ horror flicks. This is why the film looks trashy when taken out of context. If, however, you are someone who grew up watching those cheesy horror movies or simply fell in love with them somewhere along the way, there is a big chance that you will appreciate Chillerama for exactly what it is supposed to represent – so, you lot, read on…

As mentioned the film has four segments which are held together by a framing story. As a tribute to the directors’ love of drive-in movies, the overarching narrative which frames Chillerama is set at a drive-in theatre on its last day of service, with the four films being shown there that day. Part of the joy of watching Chillerama are the cameo appearances by genre actors who are clearly having fun making the movie (sometimes you can even see them laughing while speaking their lines). The first film is a black and white 50’s sci-fi monster flick called Wadzilla, directed by Adam Rifkin (Detroit Rock City, Psycho Cop 2). Without giving too much away, here is what you can expect: an out-of-control sperm that grows and eats people until it ends up having sex with the Statue of Liberty. Yes, seriously. This extremely insane but extremely simple take on the classic monster films, with Rifkin himself in the main role and a hilarious supporting cast (including Ray Wise and Eric Roberts) is fun to watch and sets things up nicely for the trashy flicks yet to come.

The next segment, directed by Tim Sullivan (2001 Maniacs), is probably the least entertaining – though this says more about how enjoyable the others are than this one being bad. Called I Was A Teenage Werebear, it is an homage to the classic 70’s I Was a Teenage… films – with a Grease-esque musical twist. It includes a gay porn star, Brent Corrigan, crappy werebear make-up and terrible soppy musical fillers, which combine to create a horror/musical like you’ve never experienced before.

The absolute highlight of Chillerama is Adam Green’s The Diary of Anne Frankenstein. Yeah – the title says it all – who wouldn’t want to see this!? Hitler, marvellously played by Joel David Moore, tries to create a monster based on Frankenstein’s monster. The big joke in the story is that as most of the dialogue is written in German and is spoken by actual German actors, Moore, who doesn’t speak a word of German just talks gibberish the whole time and is subtitled with words that he might be meaning to say. Non-stop laughs and an extraordinary monster (played by none other than Kane Hodder) are only a few of the reasons why this segment is the best one.

The overarching drive-in plot is directed by Joe Lynch (Wrong Turn 2) and is called Zom-B-Movie. Here too, the title says it all – because what would a Grindhouse homage be without zombies?! But this is a special film and these are special zombies, with a taste for something other than just braaains…All terrifying, crazy hell breaks loose during the screening of the last film, Deathication, directed by Fernando Phagabeefy (Joe Lynch’s alter ego) and this is definitely worth waiting for.

Chillerama is the small outsider version of Rodriguez’ and Tarantino’s Grindhouse, and it delivers the same, perhaps even more, fun and entertainment for the willing participant. It is decorated with genre references en mass and a stellar supporting cast. As far away from mainstream as is possible, and definitely not intended as a lucrative money-maker, it is instead a pure, unapologetic piece made with heart and soul by four filmmakers who love these kinds of films. They saw it as their chance to give something back to film itself. And it is your chance to experience this. So while there will always be those who loudly mock Chillerama‘s face-value qualities – trashiness or cheesiness or whatever – for the rest of us it’s more of what we love. The directors knew that there were enough like-minded people who would enjoy the film in all its undignified, unrepentant glory and who would understand exactly why they made it.

Rating: ★★★★★★★½☆☆

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