Adam Rifkin Adam Green Joe Lynch Tim Sullivan
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4th Feb 12
Regular horror movie festival attendees come together (arf!) to pay tribute to drive-ins, gaudy old horror movies, tits and masturbation. Bless ‘em.
The four directors of Chillerama are very likeable guys in the flesh and have also done enough within the genre to justify the fan boy self-indulgence of this nostalgia-hued homage to the drive-in era. Adam Green made the superb pared-down Hitchcockian suspenser Frozen, Joe Lynch helmed the second and best of the Wrong Turn movies, Tim Sullivan gave us the tits ‘n’ gore jamborees that were the 2001 Maniacs flicks and Adam Rifkin directed (ahem) The Invisible Maniac. And Psychocop Returns.
Lynch’s framing story sets the tone with an opening skit in which a freshly revived corpse bites off a drive-in employee’s dick (“You bit off my beanbag, you bitch!”). This triggers an infection that rapidly spreads to staff and clientele enjoying an all-night splatter-fest showing the only surviving prints of rare flicks and overseen by Richard Riehle from Hatchet (who looks like – but isn’t – Wilford Brimley) on his last night at the drive-in. In the opening stretch, the movie’s fixation on wank / knob / boob / cleavage / gay jokes is vividly established, as is the heartfelt nostalgia for old-school movie projection, visual nods to the patented Universal horror style and movie trivia conversations.
The first story proper is Rifkin’s “Wadzilla”, set against a pleasingly kitsch mock-50’s backdrop and starring Rifkin himself as sperm bank reject Miles, who visits urologist Ray Wise and discovers he possesses one single, lethargic sperm. Wise gives him a revolutionary new medication designed to strengthen said spunk, but this means he is soon ejaculating a rapidly-growing stop-motion toothy stop-motion jizz monster that eats a dog, bites a woman’s head off, savages Lin Shaye in a dumpster and darts between a screaming girl’s legs. It’s as childish as they come (snigger) but offers a brisk and very entertaining smut-filled pastiche of 50’s monster flicks, with plenty of on-the-nose dialogue : “Military personnel are described as ‘testy’…avoid the creature’s immediate vicinity which authorities are calling ‘the wet spot’”. For no extra charge, you also get a knowing Eric Roberts portraying “General Bukkake” (“Initiate Operation Money Shot!”) and a wonderful climax (chortle) in which the military chopper in an enormous condom to capture the creature as it prepares to violate the Statue Of Liberty. As with all really good movies, the cast ends up covered in cum, and it’s worth noting that The Chiodo Brothers (whose long genre career includes semi-classic Killer Klowns From Outer Space) have done a fine job creating the spunk monster.
“I Was A Teenage Were-bear” is Tim Sullivan’s So-Cal-1962-set gay beach party musical, cheerfully quoting Rebel Without A Cause and revelling in its homo-centric riff on the period’s movies. Buff jock Sean Paul Lockhart is too busy checking out other boys to respond to his leggy blonde girlfriend’s advances but his life perks up when she’s maimed in a car crash and he’s bitten by a leather clad stud. This episode has a bunch of very spirited performances, notably Lin Shaye amusingly channelling The Wolf Man’s Maria Ouspenskaya and delivering the show-stopping line “Even a boy who thinks he’s straight and shaves his balls by night may become a were-bear…” There is plenty of Herschell Gordon Lewis-style gore, fabulous songs along the lines of “Love Bit Me on the Ass” and some hot guys disrobed for a “Plug-it-up!” Carrie parody (“De Palma? Ripping this off for Carrie?!” shrugs a drive-in audience member). It exhausts its good jokes too soon but it’s still endearing.
Adam Green’s “Diary Of Anne Frankenstein” is a subtitled pastiche of Universal horror movies and the Hitler-mocking shenanigans of the man who made the best Universal pastiche, Mel Brooks. Built upon the single gag that the eponymous Anne’s family had their name shortened to “Frank” from you-know-what, it has fun with extended death scenes, amusing mannequin-centered gore, characters reacting to overly dramatic musical cues, references to “99 Red Balloons” and ill-chosen stunt doubles. Kane Hodder is a hoot as the monster and Joel David Moore delivers a full-blooded comic performance as Adolf, but more than any of the episodes, it runs out of steam and jokes.
For anyone who grew up watching faux-snuff movies like Faces Of Death, the highlight of Chillerama turns out to be a throwaway interlude spoofing the Mondo-trend. Joe Lynch is very funny as the childishly named Fernando Phagabeefy, sporting a John Waters-tash and sensationalistically hosting “Deathication”, promising at the outset that “What you are about to see will make you shit. A lot.” And “This film will rape you with your own faeces”. This short interlude could well have been developed into a full episode of its own despite the reliance on poo-centric gags (“The power of shit compels you!” etc.). The best gags involve the names of this visionary director’s earlier movies: who wouldn’t pay money to see Salo 2 : The Next Day or The Cunting Death?
The finale brings us back to the framing story, and the movie’s riff on the concept of sex-crazed zombies at the drive-in goes enjoyably over the line with corpse-fucking, dick pulling and a variation on the immortal head-giving-head scene from Re-Animator. The obsessive movie-quoting admittedly wears thin (everything from E.T. to The Thing via Heathers and The Goonies) and the post-modern final twist adds to the overall sense of self-indulgence, but this and the episodes that precede it are tough to dislike. At its best, Chillerama captures the spirit and affectionate fanboy wit that characterised the very first of Adam Green and Joe Lynch’s Road To Frightfest short skits made especially for the Leicester Square festival. And even at its laziest it still reminds us why poo and ejaculating are funny. Tee-hee.