Chillerama (2011)

It’s been a bit since I did an anthology movie.  In fact, I’ve only ever done one in the past.  So let’s make up for that with a giant, nearly two full hours of kooky b-movie stories rolled into the horror comedy Chillerama from 2011!

The four segments contained within Chillerama are framed by a connecting story at a drive-in theater that is playing monster movies.  Then, each of those four segments is a parody and homage to a particular genre and style.  Additionally, each segment is directed by a different person – Adam Rifkin who directed mostly a split between family fare and boner comedies/thrillers, Tim Sullivan who was mostly known for producing movies like Detroit Rock City before making 2001 Maniacs with Robert Englund, Adam Green who made his mark with the Hatchet series of horror films, and Joe Lynch who is most recently known for directing Mayhem starring Steven Yeun and Samara Weaving.

Chillerama was the brainchild of Rifkin and Sullivan who met on Detroit Rock City and spitballed an idea for an anthology called Famous Monsters of Filmland – a title based on the Forrest J. Ackerman magazine that they grew up reading. 

Rifkin and Sullivan couldn’t get a deal with Famous Monsters Magazine so plans to make that movie with that title fell through.  They followed that up with pitching an anthology in the style of Tales from the Crypt to MTV, but they couldn’t get the green light there because that was just about the time that reality TV began taking over and MTV decided to go in that direction instead.

Later, Rifkin and Sullivan met with Green and Lynch which birthed Chillerama – still somewhat in the vein of the original Famous Monsters of Filmland idea.  They changed the titles of some of their short segments, and completely reconfigured ideas, and then they started making their little monster anthology.  Green’s segment would be shown at the London FrightFest Film Festival in 2010, but the full finished film of Chillerama would eventually go to the 2011 Fantasy Filmfest in Germany before being released on video on-demand six weeks after the festival and on physical media two months after that.

Sullivan’s segment would get its own release in 2012, but more on that later.

The movie opens with a black and white sequence that appears to be an old movie within the movie.  A man digs up his dead wife and decides that after their life together of her always getting her way and getting everything she wants, he wants a little “dead head”.  She bites his dick off.  Now, what’s particularly funny is we see her biting his dick off from behind so we see the balls.  The sight of balls in a movie always cracks me up.  After he realizes that pretty much his whole junk is gone, she gets a call and he says he’s late to work.  He leaves the cemetery and walks to his job at the drive-in.  The drive-in is showing the last known prints of four movies…  It’s our titular Chillerama!

Some are sad to see the drive-in close while others are seemingly happy.  The owner laments to his poster of Orson Welles that the modern movie experience at home is destroying the purity of going to the drive-in and watching movies under the stars.  He even says is considering killing himself with his pistol.  The guy who got his dick bit off comes into the projection booth looking not so great.  In fact, he’s got bright blue liquid on his crotch and it seems like he’s coming down with a virus of some sort.  Anyway, it’s time to get started with our first segment…

“WADZILLA”

“Wadzilla” is the progeny of Adam Rifkin and opens with a sexy nurse at a urologist office.  The urologist, Dr. Weems (Ray Wise), is seeing Miles Munson (Rifkin).  Munson went to a sperm bank to make a deposit.  They saw something that concerned them and sent him to Weems.  There, Weems shows him what normal sperm looks like under the microscope.  He then shows Munson what his currently looks like – which is just a single sperm squirming along like an inchworm.

Weems is on the research board on an experimental drug that will help Munson regenerate sperm more efficiently.  The next day, he takes the pill.  Might I add here, as a point of concern, I don’t think it’s a good idea for anyone to take any experimental pills from Ray Wise?

Munson goes to work on the train, and a pretty girl sits next to him and asks for a light for her cigarette.  When he gets a look at her cleavage, he gets a shooting pain in his balls.  At work, a sexy new board member causes the pain again.  He goes to see Dr. Weems and he says he has to take a sample to make sure it isn’t the new pill.  When Munson has a particularly painful ejaculation, it turns out is sperm is gigantic.  Instead of the pill making him produce more sperm, it makes his single sperm grow exponentially larger.  His only advice to Munson is to immediately jerk one out if he feels his sperm increasing in size.

He goes on a blind date with a pretty (and busty) girl named Louise and he immediately needs to relieve it – and it’s a big one.  Munson tries to catch it to get rid of it but it only makes more of a mess of things.  He tries to flush it but it backs up the toilet because it is getting bigger by the second.  It jumps out of the toilet and runs after them.  When Louise trips and falls it attacks her by going up her skirt toward her crotch – as sperms are wont to do.  He pulls it out of her skirt and throws it out of the window where it escapes into the night.

Wadzilla first attacks a girl’s dog before biting her head off.  Later, Wadzilla attacks a pair of homeless people. and it has already grown significantly larger.  Louise and Munson go on their date and she is understanding of all this stuff with the giant monster sperm creature and what have you.  They see a report on the news about the “tadpole like creature” is already the size of a house and growing.  The next day it is rampaging through New York and leaving nothing but death and devastation in its wake.

Weems explains to the army, whose general is played by Eric Roberts, that the sperm creature wants what all spermatozoa wants – to fertilize an ovum.  Munson says the only lady big enough would be the Statue of Liberty.  As Wadzilla humps Lady Liberty, General Bukkake calls in “Operation Moneyshot” – a giant bomb that destroys Wadzilla, and the city takes one to its collective face like a champ.

We’re off to an awesome start with a moneyshot to the face.  “Wadzilla” was done as a send up to the style of giant monster movie of the 50s.  You know, your basic science fiction fare that was popular in the earlier days of the drive-in phenomenon.  It’s also written with really fast and sharp dialog.  It is definitely toilet humor, but it is also a lot of pun in terms of gags.

Rifkin packs a lot of innuendo in every possible moment that he can with a news report (read by Svengoolie’s Rich Koz) almost entirely gags about sperm, ejaculation, masturbation, etc.  Then you have a great finale where Louise wants to kiss Munson, but he doesn’t want to kiss her on the lips after she took the giant load and spit it out.  It’s so utterly juvenile but, maybe best, it knows exactly how long the joke can sustain itself and ends at the exact right spot.

Now it’s time to move onto our second segment, “I WAS A TEENAGE WEREBEAR” by Tim Sullivan.

This segment takes place in Southern California in 1962.  We meet Billy, who is getting manhandled by his new girlfriend, Peggy Sue.  Ricky is resistant to Peggy Lou’s advances and the expectations his father sets on him.  Peggy Lou even sings a song about how she is saddened by him constantly “looking away” whenever she is trying to make him fall in love with her.

Now, the reason for Ricky to look away is because he’s distracted, not by other women, but cavorting boys.  That morning at school, a greaser pulls Ricky out of the way of a bully jock, Butch, and the Butch runs his car into Peggy Lou, whose brain is falling out of her head, but she’s alive.  The gypsy school nurse is freaked out by the greasers because something is “not quite right” about them.  She warns Ricky to stay away from those kinds of boys like the greasers, and the leader of that group, Talon.

At gym class, it’s a wrestling lesson, and Talon wants to take on Ricky.  He tells Ricky to give into his urges, and then bites him.  In the locker room, Ricky sings a song about how he needs to purge this urge in his body.  When the coach (played by Sullivan) walks in on him, they have a conversation.  Ricky tells him about how his mom always told him to do what he feels is right.  The coach knows what he is going through and plans to help him out by going down on him.

Ricky resists, but is also turned on.  Soon his eyes turn red and he gets super strength and smashes the coach’s head in between his legs.  Talon is there to tell Ricky he is becoming the same as him.  When Butch finds Talon’s gang and Ricky, he decides to show them their place the way his dad was taught in prison.  When Butch has his way with Talon, it triggers his transformation into a werebear and the whole gang massacres the jocks.

Ricky still tries to resist and runs to the gypsy nurse (played by Lin Shaye).  She explains that Talon and his crew are werebears and they transform when they get aroused and their latent urges come out.  Talon helps Ricky with his first transformation into a werebear.  Talon tells Ricky to meet him at the school luau to exact revenge on the school for not being open minded and accepting of them.  Ricky tries to talk him out of the bloodbath he is planning, but Talon just knocks him out to prevent him from stopping him.  However, Ricky shows up anyway and fights Talon by first jerking off to a copy of Playbear and the Ron Jeremy centerfold inside.  He then crams an aluminum bat up Talon’s butt and kills him.

“I Was a Teenage Werebear” is a little more of an interesting entry.  Tim Sullivan is a proud and out homosexual.  He obviously wanted to lean into the idea of some of the more homosocial feel of the late 50s and early 60s rebel movies.  Ricky is dressed like James Dean from Rebel Without a Cause, and the werebears are all dressed like Marlon Brando’s biker gang in The Wild One.  I mean shiiit…  I don’t care if you are gay or straight, I know you look at those old rebellious youth films, especially if motorcycles are involved, and immediately think about leather daddies and the like.  It also plays heavily with the deep sexual undertones in The Lost Boys with a bad boy who is “different” leading the more “normal” kid astray with a little bit of attraction.

What’s especially interesting about “I Was a Teenage Werebear” is that Sullivan has a longer cut of the movie and it was released as the special “Uncut and Hairy Edition”.  It even has a full soundtrack.  Sadly, not only selling the CD on eBay proved to be troubling due to it being deemed indecent, something Sullivan might have a fair argument in saying it was deemed indecent because of the overtly gay overtones and not for actually showing nudity or anything truly wrong, but Sullivan also had trouble casting the movie.  Many straight actors refused to do it and gay actors were barred from participating by their own representatives and agents.

To think, within a decade, this sort of project would likely not face any of those troubles.

Oh boy…  It’s time for our third story.  It just so happens that is a bit of the ol’ Nazisploitation – “The Diary of Anne Frankenstein”!  In this, Hitler comes into possession of a diary that he thinks will help him build an unstoppable killing machine to win the war.  After tricking the Frankensteins into giving him the diary, he kills the hiding family and plans to use it to his advantage.  He gives one of his Nazi soldiers a blank diary and tells him to write depressing stuff in it so they can sell it after the war and make millions off it.

This is a bit of a tricky portion of Chillerama.  Adam Green was given the title and was asked to make it his own.  However, in order to make a comedy involving Nazis and Hitler and Anne Frank renamed as Frankenstein, you need to tread carefully.  However, I’d argue the only way to tread lightly in this sort of minefield is to go all the way on tilt to make Hitler as completely ridiculous and over the top stupid as possible.  I mean, it’s hard enough to find comedy in Hitler himself, you know, now that we know exactly what he did and what he planned to continue to do.  It’s hard to think of Anne Frank as something to parody.

However, there are ways to do it.

First, you start by setting this in a black and white sort of way and start cranking up the dial on everything.  It has to be over the top in every single thing.  There were several films made during the war that made fun of Hitler (as well as the other Axis powers).  It was a way, I suppose, to help people in the United States feel better about Europe completely tearing itself apart.  However, Hitler was played for a complete maroon in those old b-movies.  So you do that here.  Turn him into a cartoon character and do what you can to point and laugh at him.  Then, to borrow from the Nazisploitation craze of 70s grindhouses, you turn Ava Braun into something out of an Ilsa movie.

But then, you also make his monster a ridiculous parody of what Nazi propaganda would lead people to think a Jew is.

Oh, and if you can make Ava Braun think the monster to be more cute than scary, and have her check out the size of the thing’s schwanstucker and get a little turned on by it, then score!  By the way, the monster, named Meshugannah, is played by none other than Kane Hodder.  Of course, you give him some good killin’ scenes when he decides he isn’t gonna take orders from no Hitler.  Once the monster goes nuts, he kills Hitler’s soldiers and squeeze’s Ava’s head until her eyes pop out.  He then goes after Hitler and they use some clever visual gags with Hitler trying to lock the monster into the lab, but he just goes around the set wall to attack and such.

While I’m always up for Hitler to be made to look a fool, this segment, sadly, doesn’t really have enough to make its full run time of about 20 minutes or so.  It’s funny at first that the actors are not speaking real German and often little Easter egg lines are tossed in for the person with a sharp enough ear, but it’s not as tongue in cheek as “I Was a Teenage Werebear” nor is it as over the top juvenile as “Wadzilla”.  So those Easter eggs are there in the “dialog” but it requires people to be able to stay with the movie and not zone out in order to hear the jokes.

It’s time for our final story, “Zom-B-Movie” and there’s a bit of a twist – this segment has been going since the beginning.  The framing device of the drive-in is the fourth story.  Throughout the movie, and in particular the moments between each “movie” there has been little bits of story laid out for us.  First, you have the guy whose wife bit off his dick at the very beginning.  That super blue goop mixed in with his blood and made him a zombie.  He then also wanted to jerk off in the storage room and because his dick was mangled, he had to use some of the popcorn butter oil to lube himself.  He mixed his blue goo in with the popcorn.

And guess what…  People have been eating popcorn with butter throughout the drive-in and now the zombie virus is spreading.  Specifically, there’s a trio of friends we’ve been keeping up with in between the movie segments.  Tobe is secretly in love with Mayna, and the third person of the trio, Ryan is in love with the girl who works the concession stand at the drive-in (Desi).  They have not been eating any popcorn, but Ryan’s brother has and he just blew a load into his girlfriend’s mouth as seen on the right.

Now, there is a bit of a misdirect here that I have to discuss before getting to “Zom-B-Movie” and that is what we’re led to believe to be Joe Lynch’s film.  He plays an exploitation director named Fernando Phagabeefy (spectacular joke there I might add), and he’s introducing a movie called “Deathication”.  Which is just a shit ton of farts and poop that Fernando Phagabeefy promises will make you shit yourself.  This, quite frankly, is the epoch of comedy.  You should be able to find the whole clip right here.

The shit movie is interrupted by horny zombies.  From what I can tell, zombie disease was passed to that one guy by way of getting head from his dead wife, then it is a sexual disease as well as a zombie monster making virus.  So the whole place is a zombie orgy.  Mayna and Tobe deal with the original zombie dude while Ryan tries to go rescue Desi, but she’s infected as well and they are locked into the storage room together.  Good thing she is just cute enough and he’s just desperate enough to go ahead and decide to let her fuck him to death.

Mayna gets the keys from zombified Ryan and they are surrounded by zombies until they are saved by the owner of the drive-in who spouts one liners for each kill he makes.  He eventually gets swarmed and uses a grenade to take out a whole bunch of the zombies.  Tobe and Mayna get to the car but it won’t start.  Mayna decides since they are stuck and unable to do anything but possibly get turned into sex toys for the zombies, they decide to fuck and give the monsters one hell of a show.  As the zombies hump their car, the credits roll, and the four directors critique the movie from the audience, made up of all the people in the various stories, of the Beverly Cinema.

In all, Chillerama is a fun movie, and not a bad little party movie or something to have playing in the background during a party because there is all sorts of strange stuff going on for people to enter the room on and catch their attention.  It’s a fun movie and a great idea to just make your own little over the top comedy horror anthology.

That said, I would think your mileage may vary.  I think “Wadzilla” and “I Was a Teenage Werebear” are the two shining jewels in the movie because they know exactly what they are and know how far they can take their parodies.  The rest may be hit or miss with others.  Certainly, the low brow comedy at play here could turn some off, but at the same time, I chalk a lot of that up to them being able to go above and beyond and so why not just push the envelope so far along that you push it all the way off the table?

Alright, next week, I’m going to the 80s for another monster horror comedy.  It’s a sequel to one of the most popular killer produce movies ever.  It’s Return of the Killer Tomatoes!

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