Where have all the drive-ins gone? Before cineplexes dominated the industry, drive-ins were the place to check out some of the most truly low budget, zaniest flicks on the planet within the confines of a major social gathering. Not letting us all forget about those good old days are writers/directors Adam Green, Tim Sullivan, Joe Lynch, and Adam Rifkin, whose combined talents bring us Chillerama. With so much promise and hype, did this can't-miss prospect miss the mark?
In the final night of its existence, Cecil B. Kaufman (Office Space's Richard Riehle) closes down his local drive-in with a bang by showing four lost prints of some truly bizarro flicks for his movie-goers to enjoy. The only problem is that a necrophiliac, who gets frisky with the wrong corpse, is turned into a sex-crazed, bloodthirsty zombie and soon inadvertently begins to infect the remainder of the drive-in's audience. Our two main leads on the verge of a blossoming romantic relationship, Tobe (Corey Jones) and Mayna (Kaili Thorne), are among the audience members who watch four Z-grade films including Wadzilla, the story of a man's sperm gone bad; I Was a Teenage Werebear, a tale of a boy whose true sexual side is outed in hairy fashion; The Diary of Anne Frankenstein, which shows what really happened to Anne Frank before Adolf Hitler created the Frankenstein monster in an alternate universe; and Deathication, showing a montage of feces gags.
Chillerama's premise of being a tribute to drive-ins and the films-within-the-film appear to be excellent on paper, but the end result is nowhere near as entertaining as it should be. It is especially disappointing considering the four great cinematic minds at the helm. Rifkin's Wadzilla is like one joke that plays itself out too soon, although it is always good to see Ray Wise working. Sullivan's Werebear is by far the worst aspect of the film, containing too many unfunny and annoying musical numbers that drags the overall film down almost to the level of being completely unwatchable. Even hottie Gabby West (Scream Queens) is totally misused after her opening scene. Lynch's Zom-B-Movie is our wraparound story that tries too hard to be a Troma dedication by saturating the screen with penises and corpse sex, literally. It also concludes with a complete cop out of an ending, thus ruining any steam it was building up to at that point. Meanwhile, Deathication begins with a great introduction by its faux director, but is not as shockingly gross as it intended to be. Thankfully, we only get to see very little of it.
Adam Green's The Diary of Anne Frankenstein is the only saving grace. Completely subtitled and in black & white, this one will have you crying in laughter from beginning to end. Too bad it only lasts around 20 minutes of the film's insanely long two-hour running time. Have you ever wanted to see Joel David Moore (Avatar, Hatchet) playing Adolf Hitler as he sings a song about why people hate him and how understood he is? What do you mean "no"? Well, you will be glad that Green thought of the idea once you finish watching this segment. Moore speaks all of two lines in actual German, while speaking jibberish, with words that include "Boba Fett", "Golimar" and "Osh Kosh B' Gosh", the rest of the time. And that is only scratching the surface of the kind of hilarity you'll find in this mini-flick.
This one "coulda been a contenda", but utterly fails sans the Frankenstein segment. When four equally great modern-day directors collaborate together on a film, the result should be nothing less than a sure-fire hit. Unfortunately, the highlights of this film are too few and far in-between to make Chillerama the epic motion picture that it should have been. If you want to see a film with a quarter of the budget and genuinely in the vein of Troma, check out Drew Besson's The Taint.
If you do watch it, make sure to hang around for the credits to hear Moore's vocal opus!