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Chillerama (Blu-ray Review)

Halloween came and went, but if you stayed around for the after party, you would have known that your friends here at Why So Blu were going to keep it going with the brand new horror anthology film called Chillerama! From those whacky kids I will affectionately call out as Green, Rifkin, Sullivan, and Lynch comes Chillerama – a tour de force of cheesiness with a dash of bad taste sprinkled in. Don’t worry, I’ll be using their full names in the course of the full review. I gotta tease this out, yo! In the tradition of Grindhouse, but with a nostalgic attitude of the 50’s, Ed Wood, and good ‘ol fashioned Americana sensibilities thrown in for good measure, comes the cult hit film of the year. What makes it even better is that we will be talking about the Blu-ray, so you know that you’re in for a treat! Take a bathroom break, grab a snack, get some soda pop, put on your bomber jacket, because it’s going down! Literally. 😉 

Film 

Up next on Why So Blu is the horror-comedy-exploitation extravaganza known as Chillerama! Even if you don’t know what the hell I am talking about you KNOW what the hell I am talking about. For the past year Chillerama has been traveling cross country playing at drive-in theaters, film festivals, and conventions. Chillerama is the brainchild of four writer/director friends: Adam Rifkin, Tim Sullivan, Adam Green, and Joe Lynch. They got together one day and came up with a horror anthology that would take their love of the cheesy and the macabre and spin it on its head. Yes, in essence, that’s how it was born. Four film geeks taking their love of cheesy films and deciding to make one themselves. Chillerama is horror film anthology divided into several sections. We will try and cover each film accordingly, so the format for this review may or may not end up looking sort of whacky.

Intro: It’s the closing night at the last drive-in theater in the country and Cecil B. Kaufman (Richard Riehle), (who idolizes Orson Welles, by the way) has programmed some of the rarest films for consumption. These “lost” films are legendary and are said to have never been played in front of an audience. Looks like there’s a first time for everything.

 

Wadzilla: That title alone makes me chuckle every time. Wadzilla is the obvious tribute to the giant monster films of the 1950’s like Godzilla, and so forth. The only difference is that this is a giant sperm that eats and destroys everything in sight. It starts with Miles Munson (Adam Rifkin) who has a low sperm count and seeks treatment from the cigarette smoking Dr. Weems (Ray Wise) who uses Miles as a guinea pig of sorts to test out his experimental serum. This backfires and Miles isn’t able to produce any more sperm. In fact, he’s only able to produce one sperm of giant proportions. The sperm gets loose and mutates into a giant thirty foot sperm monster of death.  All hell breaks loose when Miles and the military set out to try and stop this thing before it tries to…impregnate the statue of liberty. I’ll stop right there. Let’s just say that Wadzilla finishes up with a “happy ending” for the ages.

I Was A Teenage Werebear: Here’s the story that fully embraces the spirit of the 50’s, Daddy-O. It’s Rebel Without A Cause meets Grease. Micky (Sean Paul Lockhart) is a young man who has a beautiful girl throwing herself at him every chance she gets, but Mickey is clueless…or is something else altogether. Enter the mysterious rebel, James Dean lookin’, Elvis singin’,  Talon (Anton Troy). Talon promises to break Mickey out of his “shell.” It’s love at first bite, if you get my meaning. I Was A Teenage Werebear is also somewhat inspired by those cheesy flicks of yesteryear where the jock or quiet guy had a secret. They were either a  werewolf or zombie and all they wanted was  to get the prom queen in the end. I Was A Teenage Werebear is sort of like that, but with guys. You can say that Wearbear is a subversive piece, but it really isn’t, because it doesn’t hide what it’s trying to convey. Props to writer/director Tim Sullivan for doing his thing and not giving a flying F***. The musical numbers and songs are pretty hysterical.

The Diary of Anne Frankenstein: Oh boy. Here’s subject matter that one would think of treading lightly on, but writer/director Adam Green has other plans. Please keep in mind that The Diary of Anne Frankenstein is written more like a fable, so please refrain from sending in the hate mail. Adolf Hitler (Joel David Moore) is on the rampage and is looking for the diary of Anne Frank. It’s not a typical diary, because these pages contain the secret to creating super soldiers for the Nazi army. After a brief stand-off Hitler gets the book and builds a monstrous creation: Meshugganah. Little did Hitler know that Meshugganah (Kane Hodder) was a Jewish weapon ready to be unleashed against evil. I told you The Diary of Anne Frankenstein would be a rough one. Not really. It’s a pretty funny fable-satire that had me laughing out loud in some moments. Joel David Moore’s performance as Hitler reminded me a little bit of Charlie Chaplin’s performance in The Great Dictator in that he wasn’t really speaking German most of the time. It was all dribble. I like that Green took his project in stride. He even talks about being slightly doubtful in pulling it off due to the sensitive nature of the whole topic in the making-of special on the Blu-ray. Kudos.

Deathication: It’s not really one of the featured films – it serves as the intermission for Chillerama. If you’re highly offended by bowel movements along with poop and fart jokes then it makes sense for you to go and get some refreshments. Like, right now! It’s directed by Fernando Phagabeefy *coughs* Joe Lynch *coughs*. Which brings us to a clever use of framing for….

Zom-B-Movie: Yes, up until now you thought that Zom-B-Movie was a film unto itself, but that’s where you’re only half right. Zom-B-Movie is basically the rest of the Chillerama film  that takes place in the real world while everyone is watching what’s onscreen. The intro starts off with some attempted necrophilia that goes horribly and painfully wrong. We then see the eager fans all driving over to the theater, along with Cecil B. Kaufman spouting off words of wisdom in between takes of him trying to commit suicide, but getting interrupted every time. They say that the secret to great popcorn is in the butter. Well, let’s just say that ain’t butter. Through some dimwit’s lack of planning ,the butter has been replaced by a blue substance that turns anyone who ingests it into horny flesh eating zombies. Yes, there will be blood…and other bodily fluids being exchanged.

 

Outro: Wow, that was pretty taxing. It was like being there! Chillerama fills its two hour running time with no frame spared. From the opening credits to the musical performances during the end credits, to a special surprise after the end credits, Chillerama never stops. It’s a labor of love in every sense of the word. It’s completely self-aware, ultra violent, and UNRATED! That’s the other thing, you’ve never seen an UNRATED film quite like Chillerama. The boundaries of (bad) taste are pushed to the limits. It does succeed in conveying the old school tradition of the drive-in, because that’s really what it is underneath the shock and awe. It’s a cheesy horror movie that’s made to be laughed with and at. Works for me!

Video 

Chillerama is presented in 1080p, 1.78:1, widescreen. Shot on digital, but manipulated in post production, Chillerama looks better than some of the current crop of films shooting for ten times the amount. Flesh tones look natural, and only begin to turn unpleasant when they start to decay and turn into sex crazed flesh eating zombies. The Diary of Anne Frankenstein segment is in black and white with added dirt and scratches to give it that old school film reel quality. It works. Deathication uses the sepia tones nicely. Colors are bold and beautiful and take advantage of the locations used like the beach, the drive-in movie theater and other nostalgic locales. Black levels are deep and inky and the contrast never runs hot unless there’s a creative shot being used for aesthetic purposes.  Chillerama on Blu-ray looks pretty damn spectacular.  Cue the hallelujah chant!

Audio 

Chillerama is presented in DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless surround sound. If you were lucky enough to have experienced Chillerama at the movie theater or drive in shows then you will be happy to bring the Chillerama experience home on Blu-ray. It’s probably the closest thing to seeing it at the show that you’ve got. Again, the Blu-ray has been blessed with awesome sound to compliment the more than adequate video presentation. Dialogue is as sharp as the devil himself. It needs to be, because there is a lot of violence and commotion going on that you need to hear the words. Effects also come through with gritty realism especially those juicy gunshots to the heads and limbs. The musical numbers are also clean and crisp as is everything that comes out of Adolf Hitler’s mouth, even though it’s rubbish. The effects of a giant sperm causing chaos all over the country also add a bit of (too much) realism to the mix. Kudos to the sound people indeed!

Special Features 

Chillerama comes packed with lots of special features that include interviews with the cast and crew, deleted scenes, Comic-Con interviews, trailers, and a Video Commentary with Director-Writers Adam Rifkin, Tim Sullivan, Adam Green, and Joe Lynch. Most of the special features are also presented in HD.

  • Director’s Video Commentary
  • Wadzilla Deleted Scenes and Trailer
  • The Making of The Diary of Anne Frankenstein
  • The Making of I Was A Teenage Werebear and Deleted Scenes
  • Zom-B-Movie Deleted Scenes
  • Director’s Interviews
  • Chillerama Trailer
  • Wadzilla Trailer
  • I Was A Teenage Werebear Trailer

Final Thoughts 

First things last, Chillerama is NOT Grindhouse. I say that, because I’m sure there will be those that will be on one side or the other making comparisons which will be totally unfair. Each anthology film paid tribute to a certain genre or niche in their own separate way and in doing so earned the right to happily co-exist along one another. I would suggest that in watching Chillerama you take into account that it was made on a much lower budget than Grindhouse, but had no oversight (suits hovering over the shoulders of the filmmakers) whatsoever. Chillerama is an indy film in every sense of the word and it’s that spirit and, dare I say it, love for film, that sets it apart from most of the dreck out there. Chillerama isn’t going to cure cancer, but it does have a lot of heart and it’s a labor of love – all conjured up by a few guys who love cheesy horror films. It’s valid just for that.

 

 

 

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Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

7 Responses to “Chillerama (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Aaron Neuwirth

    Doesn’t sound like Grindhouse at all. Sounds like Creepshow, which is a very good thing. Looking forward to eventually checking it out. I believe it is on Instant Watch, so I’ll go for it soon.

  2. Gregg

    Looking forward to it as well!

  3. Matt Blu-Man

    I was sold by the icon…

  4. Brian White

    Great review G!

    I loved this do much I bought a digital copy too!!!

  5. Matt Blu-Man

    I loved it! WADZILLA was my favorite. So campy and gory. 5 stars!!!

  6. Aaron Neuwirth

    I liked Wadzilla.

  7. Continue on

    I used to love Wadzilla.