Chillerama is an anthology movie mixing a little bit of horror with plenty of comedy and plenty of that old grindhouse/drive-in cinema style. We've seen plenty movies in this vein recently - Grindhouse seemed to lead the resurgence but I'm happy as long as we keep getting fun flicks like Black Dynamite, Machete and Hobo With A Shotgun - but for every film that takes care to emulate the style and still throw some great content onscreen we seem to get one or two that just use the trappings to excuse a low budget that could have been put to better use. Or something that just misfires like Nude Nuns With Big Guns. Chillerama really falls in between the two extremes and, like many other anthology movies, it's a mix of good and bad.
The basic wraparound premise involves a bunch of folk going along to enjoy themselves at the last night of their local drive-in cinema. But there's danger between the cars as well as on the big screen and in between each story segment we catch up with the action as a strange condition develops amongst the cinema patrons.
But what's the cinema actually showing on this final night? Well, first up we have "Wadzilla" (written and directed by Adam Rifkin), the demented tale of a man (also played by Adam Rifkin) with such a low sperm count that he only tends to produce one at a time. When he receives medication to strengthen that sperm there are unexpected side effects and it's not long before one giant monster sperm is destroying New York City. The second tale is "I Was A Teenage Werebear" (written and directed by Tim Sullivan), another demented tale but this time all about sexuality, acceptance and teenage angst. And then it's on to "The Diary Of Anne Frankenstein", the segment written and directed by Adam Green and worth bonus points for the title alone. The fact that it's about Adolf Hitler (played by Joel David Moore) trying to make a giant monster that will help him win the war guarantees fun. There's the promise of "Deathication" but it proves to be just a tease as we then get carried away into the finale of the ongoing "Zom-B-Movie" (written and directed by Joe Lynch).
With the talent involved behind the camera and a cast that includes an eclectic mix of Richard Riehle, Joel David Moore, Ray Wise, Lin Shaye, Eric Roberts, Ron Jeremy (?!?), AJ Bowen, Sean Paul Lockhart, Anton Troy, Kristina Klebe, Kane Hodder, Kaili Thorne, Briana Mackay, Corey Jones . . . . . . . . well, you can't say that those involved didn't give things a good try.
Sadly, while some of the humour works and a lot of the madness is impressively outrageous, there's a lot here that doesn't hit the mark. A lot of references are scattered throughout the movie but a lot of lines of dialogue are also spoken by cine-literate characters who rarely seem to use their own words (or, at least, that's how it feels). "Wadzilla" is a lot of fun but it's almost too over the top compared to the beginning of the movie and suffers because the tone hasn't been set for it. "I Was A Teenage Werebear", I'm very sad to say, is the weakest segment. It has some fun referencing the likes of Rebel Without A Cause and Grease but the treatment of the material is coarse and too heavy-handed in a way that ends up being off-putting. Camp material can be absolutely great entertainment, especially delivered by someone like the great John Waters (for example), but Tim Sullivan doesn't get it right. Which is a shame, as I like Tim Sullivan. Redemption comes in the second half of the movie, however, with both "The Diary Of Anne Frankenstein" and "Zom-B-Movie" making up for plenty. There are still mis-steps, and the fact that the film clocks in at about the two hour mark doesn't help at all, but the fun is in full swing and viewers are completely accustomed to the vibe of the film by the halfway point.
So it's nowhere near as good as many other movies I could mention (and, indeed, already have) but it's nowhere near as bad as the very worst you can watch either. Which makes it decidedly average.