Personally I've grown quite weary of all these homage/throwback style grindhouse films that have been coming out over the last few years. Every now and again a decent one comes through, but for me it's like watching a tribute band-It may be decent, but all it really makes you want to do is see the real band.
Chillerama is another one of these of course, and it really wears it's influences on it's sleeve. It's a full on comedy, and aimed solely at exploitation/horror junkies like myself. Not that you have to be horror fanatic to appreciate this film, but you will definitely catch most of the references, homages and jokes if you are. Just like you don't have to be a James Bond fan to enjoy the Austin Powers films, but it helps immensely. The humor is mainly of the crude sexual variety-Definitely a What-Can-We-Get-Away-With approach. Many reviewers compare this to Troma, and that's a fair comparison, though I'd say that Troma is still the undisputed king of pushing the limits of sex/violence and bad taste.
Chillerama, in the Creepshow and Amicus Pictures tradition, is an anthology film(remember those?). It's four stories by four newschool horror directors(though Adam Rifkin has been around for awhile now). The film takes place in a drive-in theater on it's last night before it's torn down. Three "lost" horror films are being shown, and we watch those three films with the audience.
The first is WADZILLA by Adam Rifkin, and arguably the best one. A nerdy guy takes an experimental drug to increase sperm volume and before you know it there's a gigantic sperm terrorizing New York. This film takes place in the 50s and is an homage to the giant monsters on the rampage movies of that time. However, the look and style of the film seems to be more in the vein of horror films from the 70s and early 80s. A kind of two for one deal, and a very good homage on both counts.
The second film is I WAS A TEENAGE WEREBEAR by Tim Sullivan. This is story set in the early 60s about a guy who is struggling with the fact that he might be homosexual. He's not so much interested in his girlfriend as he is in the local gang of leather clad bad boys. When he's bitten by the James Dean-esque leader of the gang(the two sidekicks look like they stepped out of the Blue Oyster Bar from the Police Academy movies), he becomes a gay werewolf-A Werebear!! He refuses to join the fold however. Kind of a gay Lost Boys if you will. This film is less an homage to horror as it is an homage to both teenage 50s films like Rebel Without A Cause and the Beach Party films of the 60s. There are even a few musical numbers.
This is the episode that gets the most heat from reviewers. While I agree that it is the weakest link here, I don't share the animosity towards it. It is actually a good homage to the genres it's spoofing, it's just that it probably doesn't belong in this movie as it's really the odd one out and throws off the momentum.
Then there's Adam Green's DIARY OF ANNE FRANKENSTEIN. This is about Hitler obtaining Anne Frank(enstein)'s grandfather's diary, which of course contains the secrets of creating life from the dead. Hitler creates his own hulking brute to help him take over the world. Green did a great job on this homage to films of the 30s. It's all in "German" with English subtitles. The "German" here is impressively and humorously improvised instead of being actual German. The 30s look is fantastic, and the slapstick buffoonery of Hitler is like many of the American films and cartoons of that era that poked fun of him. Great stuff.
A fourth film called DEATHICATION is set to show, but is interrupted by the proper fourth film, ZOM-B-MOVIE, which is the wraparound story about a zombie invasion at the drive-in showing the CHILLERAMA. We only see the first few minutes of DEATHICATION, but it's a hilarious collection of poop themed carnage. Definitely the most TROMA-esque.
In ZOM-B-MOVIE by Joe Lynch, all the drama we've been experiencing with the characters at the drive-in comes to a head when the zombie outbreak begins(the prologue shows how this infestation begins), and the characters find themselves fighting for their lives....and virginity. The zombies aren't so much here to eat them(though they certainly do), but to.....you know what!
It's a decent story, also quite TROMA-esque, but honestly I'm sick of zombies. With zombies having become so commercialized and becoming the Star Trek of the horror genre in recent years(along with vampires), I don't care if I ever see another zombie movie again. I'm so desensitized to it, zombies just don't do anything for me anymore(I never thought I'd ever say those words).
So, while Chillerama may not be perfect on all accounts, I think horror fans will find quite a bit here to eat up and enjoy. Plus it's really reassuring to see modern horror film directors keeping their love for classic horror and exploitation alive. A great love letter to the drive-in era that we horror fans all love so much. I'm glad this film was made and I'm glad to have watched it.