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January 24, 2014

Chillerama

by Franz Patrick


Chillerama (2011)
★★ / ★★★★

A local drive-in is going to be demolished the next day so the owner, Cecil (Richard Riehle), decides to throw a last hurrah of gory, cheesy, sexy, raunchy B-movies. The line-up includes “Wadzilla,” “I Was a Teenage Werebear,” “The Diary of Anne Frankenstein” and “Zom-B-Movie,” directed by Adam Rifkin, Tim Sullivan, Adam Green, and Joe Lynch, respectively, the last one being a meta storyline involving the moviegoers at the drive-in.

The anthology starts strong. It is a classic creature-feature where Miles (Rifkin) is informed by a sperm bank doctor (Ray Wise) that his sperm count is very low. When Miles looks under a microscope, there is only one instead millions of sperm. To remedy the problem, Dr. Weems gives Miles an experimental drug that is supposedly designed to make sperm stronger and so it will be able to swim to the egg cell with relative ease. Unbeknownst to them, the side effect involves the sperm growing exponentially bigger—so big that it becomes several stories high and capable of eating people whole. The segment works as a commentary on sexual dysfunction. “Wadzilla” has a great sense of humor and, despite being a comedy first and foremost, it achieves high peaks of suspense.

However, “I Was a Teenage Werebear” lacks intelligence and horror. While it dares to be a horror-musical, I was far from entertained by it. Ricky (Sean Paul Lockhart, famous in the gay community as Brent Corrigan) is a homosexual teen with an increasing urge to be with other men. When Ricky is bitten by Talon (Anton Troy), a werewolf, during a wrestling match, the transformation is emotional as it is physical. This segment’s running joke is the fact that every time skinny, boyish guys with werewolf blood transform, they turn into hairy burly men. I found it stupid, lazy, and mean-spirited. Are we supposed to laugh at gay men who are not considered stereotypically handsome?

It would have been a most wonderful surprise if, underneath a sub-moronic premise, it was about how it is really like to belong—or not belong—in a minority or counterculture despite the mainstream belief that all aspects LGBTQ is united. On the contrary, it remains to have a lot of internal prejudice. Instead, the segment rests on being shallow. The closest it gets to a good jolt is the convincing makeup each time a wolf slashes someone’s face.

“The Diary of Anne Frankenstein” suffers from similar problems. While it has more creativity, stylistically and script-wise, there is also one bad running joke: Hitler (Joel David Moore) being a complete imbecile. It is revealed that Anne Frank’s family is a descendant of Dr. Frankenstein, their name shortened in order to escape the shame of being associated with the madman. When Hitler finds the Franks’ hideout, he murders them, steals Anne’s diary (which contains instructions of how to turn the dead back to life), and orders his men to forge “sad things” as a substitute for what he has stolen. Hitler succeeds in creating a monster and teaching it how to kill.

This is the point where inspiration comes to a halt. The monster growls, grabs onto Nazis, and takes their lives. In the middle of my boredom, I could not help but wonder if the material would have been much stronger if the monster did not learn how to kill despite Hitler’s best attempts. It might have been an excellent commentary on the evil that the Nazis committed in World War II: if a monster designed to kill could not commit murder yet the Nazis were more than willing to, what does that say about them?

“Zom-B-Movie” is the most typical of the four. Zombies bite and infect others, but instead of being hungry for brains, they are hungry for sex. What a snooze.

“Chillerama” has some glimmer of inspiration but it feels misguided as a whole. While body parts are exposed and blood is unleashed, it all comes down to the screenplays being overshadowed by countless missed opportunities.

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