A mixed bag of horror-comedy, un-pc excess and loving homage to the z-grade Drive-In flicks of what seems so-long-ago, CHILLERAMA (mostly) succeeds where a lot of other recent attempts at this mix have fallen flat. The basic premise is that in Sometown, USA the local drive-in is closing down after being bought out by a douchebaggy developer, who just happens to be in attendance at the final showing. His shy younger brother and friends are also there, as are a handful of other patrons, employees and movie fans, led by the always solid Richard Riehle as “Uncle” Cecil Kaufman, the owner/projectionist/showman of the Drive-In. What follows is a wrap-around story involving necrophilia, toxic neon love-juice, tainted popcorn and an unfortunate end to the evening. In between these segments we’re treated to 3 1/2 short films that push the boundaries of acceptable taste and good humor. Witness! the horrifying scientific catastrophe of a man who gives release to a rampaging WADZILLA! See! The terrifying trials of teen homosexuality in I WAS A TEENAGE WERE-BEAR!! Kvetch! At the dastardly Nazi plans for creating an undead army with THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANKENSTEIN!!!
All of these things are pretty much what you would expect them to be. Each film apes an era and genre, while imbuing it with the most excessive, and offensive, humor the director can muster. WADZILLA (starring director Adam Rifkin as a 50’s kind of gent with a painfully growing sperm problem) is gross-out greatness, with appropriately melodramatic acting, vivid set pieces and bizarre cameo performances from Ray Wise and Eric Roberts before an explosive “happy ending”. I WAS A TEENAGE WERE-BEAR is a mildly confusing (and only partially-realized) mock-up of 60’s “Beach Blanket” and “Teen Monster” flicks replete with beach parties, scantily-clad teenagers and off-key caterwauling by Fabian look-alikes who, in this case, transmogrify into raging dog-faced leather-daddies. In the most hilarious segment, Joel David Moore plays a completely ineffectual Adolph Hitler out to create a killing machine in THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANKENSTEIN. Highly reminiscent of Mel Brooks’ YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, this one is stuffed with the kind of slapstick, gore and goofy humor we’ve come to expect from Adam Green through his AreiScope Halloween shorts like “Jack-Chop” and “The Tiffany Problem”. Filmed in Universal style black & white, subtitled, and featuring an all German-speaking cast (except for Moore, who speaks in the most awesomely ludicrous mock-German ever put to film “Boba Fett”, “Osh-Kosh B’Gosh” and “Cous-cous” all take on brilliant new meaning) THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANKENSTEIN had me (and my perceptually-enhanced wife) laughing our collective balls off. In fact, we went back and watched most of it an immediate second time. The last segment, entitled DEATHECATION, was blessedly mostly seen in the background as the end of the wrap story plays out. DEATHECATION is pretty much a literal shitstorm and is thankfully just long enough to make you thankful that the apocalypse is about to hit the drive-in (or shit-to-hit-the-fan, if that suits you).
Each segment had its hits and misses, but ANNE FRANKENSTEIN was certainly a win for Green, and Rifkin’s WADZILLA is disgusting, but very funny. The only one of the central segments that fell flat for me was WERE-BEAR, not because of the content, but because it just seemed to fall flat. Between the haphazard musical numbers (though I will admit that “Love Bit Me On The Ass” has potential) and the lack of chemistry between the main players, it just fell apart long before it ended. Really, the best part of this one was Lin Shaye doing her best “Mysterious Gypsy Woman” as the school nurse, and Scream Queens contestant and up n’ comer Gabby West as the unappreciated “Bela” of the supernatural love-story. Finally, the wraparound story is a little disjointed, but enjoyable, and makes for a pretty decent zombie flick with a high gross-out factor, like RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD on Viagra.
All in all, a great Friday night gross-out flick to watch with your friends, a couple of pizzas and a fridge full of beer. Just keep it in your pants and skip the blue-buttered popcorn.
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