Genre - Horror/B-Movie/Zombies/Werewolves/Monsters/Comedy/Musical/Anthology
Running Time - 119 Minutes
Running Time - 119 Minutes
One of the last drive-in theaters in America is shutting down its business. The owner, Cecil B. Kaufman (Richard Riehle), has decided to go out with a bang [literally] by showing a marathon of four films - films so rare that no American audience has seen them until tonight. What can go wrong?
Adam Rifkin - Miles Munson
Sarah Mutch - Louise
Owen Benjamin - Larry
Ray Wise - Dr. Weems
Eric Roberts - General Bukkake
Miles Munson (Adam Rifkin) suffers from an extremely low sperm count - a sperm count so low that he can only produce just one sperm cell every time he ejaculates. Dr. Weems (Ray Wise) prescribes him with an experimental drug that hasn't been approved that will supposedly increase his sperm count. Munson takes the drug, but soon realizes that something is terribly wrong. Anytime he's aroused, he's in a massive amount of pain in his groin region. After masturbating to relieve the pain, he realizes he can still only produce a single sperm. However, the drug has turned this one sperm into one that can think on its own and grow in size exponentially. Now known as 'Wadzilla', this giant sperm is a threat to mankind as it travels to have sex with the one woman who can satisfy it - The Statue of Liberty.
- The special effects. WADZILLA is the epitome of a 50's monster B-movie, so it was important for the effects to represent this. Thanks to The Chiodo Brothers, best known for their work on KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE, WADZILLA looks like it was made in that era but with a modern twist. Most of the effects, if not all, were done with practical effects rather than CGI, creating an authentic feel for the segment. Wadzilla looks cheesy, yet perfect as a giant sperm. The way the sperm moves and attacks is done quite believably, either by some sort of mechanics or stop-motion animation. Also the use of green screen is quite obvious, intentionally, and quite funny as well. If it wasn't for the raunchiness of the story, you would believe that WADZILLA was made years ago.
- The story. The screenplay by Adam Rifkin isn't deep or thought provoking at all. It's just about a giant sperm threatening the world because he's horny as hell. And that's why WADZILLA works as well as it does - it doesn't hide what it really is: a spoof and homage to 50s B-movies. Since the main attraction is the giant sperm, the human characters are just there to react to the madness around them. We have a love story. We have military and medical interference when it comes to the sperm. We have people being eaten and humped by this monster. All the classic camp and structure a movie like this should have is here.
I think the best part of the narrative is the homage itself. From "The Glob" showing in a nearby theater, to the KING KONG-esque ending where the military attempts to wrap a giant condom around the sperm to catch it, and to the clothing itself - WADZILLA gets it right and makes it funny in the process. When your general is named Bukkake [who wants a "money shot" when it comes to catching that sperm] and you have a female character telling her mom on a payphone that she's dating a certain guy because he has a huge penis [which would never happen in the 1950s, making the moment funnier], you can't take any of this seriously. All you can do is have fun and the story allows the viewer to do that. If you love sperm jokes from beginning to end, WADZILLA is your film.
- The direction. Adam Rifkin does a great job recreating a modern B-movie done in 1950s style. The pacing is strong, as the build up to Wadzilla keeps the viewer's interest. The editing is a bit off at times, but it's obviously intentional. The use of green screen and certain moments with the sperm, like his vision of The Statue of Liberty and the moment where he tries to ram himself up Louise's vagina, are very fun to watch. It's not an overly stylish film, but the films back then never were, so it works. Rifkin definitely did his homework and I appreciated the visual style.
- The acting. The acting here is campy as hell, as the actors overact everything to make the viewer laugh. Rifkin isn't the greatest actor, but he's watchable in his role as confused and horny Miles. Sarah Mutch is nice to look at as Louise, but anyone could have played the role really. But she does well. Ray Wise is the highlight as Dr. Weems, the man responsible for this mess due to wanting to study the sperm. And a great cameo by Eric Roberts as General Bukkake. And boy, did he get just that! A cool cast.
- WADZILLA could have pushed the envelope more. I think WADZILLA is a great short and really comes across as both hilarious and gross. But I felt there were certain moments where the idea of this gigantic sperm could have been explored more. There's a moment where the sperm wants to burrow itself up Louise, but is stopped before doing so. I wish I could have seen this done to someone else, because isn't that what a sperm would do to a woman? We never see it happen again after that. In fact, the sperm just ends up eating people while growing a massive size just to screw The Statue of Liberty. It doesn't hurt the film's entertainment level at all, but if you're gonna give us that idea, you might as well go all the way with it and see what happens. Sex jokes are great when they work, but seeing this sperm do more than just be a typical B-movie monster would have been nice.
Sean Paul Lockhart - Ricky
Anton Troy - Talon
Gabby West - Peggy Lou
Adam Robitel - Butch
Lin Shaye - Nurse Maleva
Ron Jeremy - Playbear
Tim Sullivan - Coach Tuffman
Ricky (Sean Paul Lockhart) is your average teenager from the 1960s. He's a beach boy. He has a girlfriend (Gabby West) who lusts after him. But internally he's struggling, as he's a closeted homosexual confused about his feelings. He begins to give in to these emotions when he spots Talon (Anton Troy), the leader of a leather wearing gang who rebel against authority and enjoy singing sexual songs. When Ricky befriends the gang, he's eventually bitten by Talon. Ricky soon experiences bodily changes whenever he gets aroused, turning into "bear"-like creature who wants to murder the one he lusts after. When Nurse Maleva (Lin Shaye) explains to Ricky what Talon's true intentions are, meaning that Talon wants to murder the entire school, Ricky must find the strength to control his new abilities and stop Talon for good.
- The songs. I WAS A TEENAGE WEREBEAR, in its essence, is a musical in the vein of BEACH BLANKET BINGO and GREASE. The short will frequently break into song, revealing the feelings of the characters as a way to move the story along. Not all the songs are great, but when they are, they are quite enjoyable to listen to. Songs like "Do the Werebear" and "Love Bit Me In The Ass" are quite well-written and funny. They do what they're meant to do, so I can't complain about it.
- Most of the direction. Tim Sullivan, who directed the remake 2001 MANIACS and among other horror films, does a very good job behind the camera. Sullivan captures the beach/surf film vibe well, as I WAS A TEENAGE WEREBEAR looks and feels like it could have been made during this era. The colors looked brighter than what we usually see in movies these days [mimicking Technicolor] and the musical numbers are directed well. Plus I loved the editing when it came to the gory death scenes, using dummies in place of actual people when bad things happened, making the scene that much more funnier than it had any right to be. It's not Sullivan's best film for reasons I'll get into later, but he did a nice job.
- The acting. The actors aren't the greatest, but they do their best with the material and seem to be having fun with it. Sean Paul Lockhart, who is a gay porn star, might have a decent mainstream career if he persues it. He's good as the closeted Ricky, making him sympathetic and likable. Anton Troy plays the bad boy Talon well, doing a decent James Dean impression. Gabby West, winner of Season 2 of VH1's Scream Queens, pretty much acts brain damaged most of the film [she was hit by a van], but she does it well. Adam Robitel plays a pretty convincing jerk in Butch. And we get some cool cameos by Lin Shaye [who is also in WADZILLA in a bit role] and Tim Sullivan himself as a gay coach. A cool cast that makes the short worth watching, even if it happens to be my least favorite of the segments.
- The message. I WAS A TEENAGE WEREBEAR has a strong message about accepting oneself, especially when it concerns homosexuality. The idea of the werebear is obviously a take on the whole werewolf genre, which is a metaphor for that dark secret we try so hard to repress but comes out in the surface in a scary way. The use of actual "bears", or hairy and husky men in the gay community, is actually very clever. The fact that Ricky and his gay friends have to sing to get their feelings across is obviously a play on the stereotype that gay men love musical theater. Butch's logic to rape gay men "for Jesus" in a way reveals that he, too, is hiding his feelings behind religion. And a lot of the death scenes involve penises and getting impaled up the ass. The message is very clear that this is a gay short film preaching that it's okay to be gay and have fun with the idea. I don't think many horror films do that, even the gay-themed ones, so it's nice to see Tim Sullivan be proud of who he is and want to spread that to the audience.
- The execution of the message. While the message of tolerance and being comfortable in your own skin is commendable, the way it's told is flawed. Instead of feeling like a natural part of the narrative, Sullivan tends to preach on about it more often than one is comfortable with. I think the message is great and I wish we could all live in a world where people aren't criticized for their sexuality, skin color, and whatever else that makes everyone unique. But hammering it into the audience is only going to push people away rather than bring them together. I found it pretty annoying by the half-way mark, wishing Sullivan would just focus on the story itself rather than what he wanted the audience to get out of the film. I'm sure anyone who watches this segment will understand the message. We don't need it spelled out to us over and over again.
- The pacing and tone. I WAS A TEENAGE WEREBEAR would have been a better segment if it had any idea what kind of film it wanted to be. Was it a comedy? Was it a morality tale? Was it a musical? A horror film? The mood and vibe of the film constantly changed, so you were never really sure what you were watching. It didn't help that a lot of the jokes fell flat and probably went over a lot of people's heads. The issue is that it was too broad and should have been a bit more self-contained to what the story was trying to tell.
As for the pacing, the musical numbers frequently cutting in didn't help much. They not only interrupted the flow of this particular segment, but CHILLERAMA in general. I would get into the story a bit but then lose that feeling once the numbers kicked in. There were too many songs for a 20 minute film. I think if Sullivan had spaced them out a bit and used less songs, I WAS A TEENAGE WEREBEAR would have been stronger. Instead, it's really the weakest segment of the pack.
Joel David Moore - Adolf Hitler
Kristina Klebe - Eva Braun
Kane Hodder - Meshugannah
Adolf Hitler (Joel David Moore) and his Nazi cronies invade Anne Frank's home for a diary that was written by her grandfather, who happened to be a scientist that created a monster. Hitler wants this knowledge to create his ultimate Nazi monster to help him rule the world. Hitler kills Anne Frank and her family for the diary, taking it with him and creating his killing machine with the help of his slutty girlfriend, Eva Braun (Kristina Klebe). Both Hitler and Braun finish completing their experiment, crafting a living, breathing, monster of a man (Kane Hodder) to do their bidding. Unfortunately, Meshugannah realizes that he's a Jew, meaning that Hitler and the rest of the Nazis are in deep trouble.
- The story. When you title a film, THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANKENSTEIN, you have to expect that it will be downright offensive. And while the film is definitely that, it offends in an extremely satiric and self-conscious way that ends up being absolutely hilarious. The idea that Hitler wants to create a killing machine that ends up being Jewish is just pure brilliance, and the film makes more than the most of it.
It allows Hitler to be this incapable dictator who is clueless about anything and everything around him. His lackeys don't really respect him. His girlfriend is sleeping around on him [she admittedly has "cock breath"]. And he creates a monster that represents everything he's against, yet expects it to do his bidding, without realizing he just created his own demise. The use of a dreidel and a menorah as weapons is genius, and I couldn't stop laughing at how stupid all these characters [besides Meshugannah] were. The use of the Clapper and "99 Luft Balloons", which wouldn't even exist at this point in time, is funny as hell. The story is extremely simple and doesn't make the narrative all that complicated, which definitely works in favor of its entertainment value.
- The dialogue. The best part of THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANKENSTEIN is the spoken dialogue. The film itself is in subtitles, with Adam Green wanting to create a sort of foreign film with "German actors" who speak in German. However, the actors aren't fluent in German, so they begin speaking gibberish while the correct subtitles display on the screen. While there is some German words, you also hear French, English, Spanish, Klingon, and other languages that don't match the actual text at all. I think my favorite part is when Hitler tells Meshugannah to kill about 20 times, all saying something different each time for the same word. I had no idea "Boba Fett", "Triple H", and "Goldie Hawn" could be said in place of "kill". This is one of those films that is a lot to fun to listen to because that's where most of the comedy's strength is from. I'm sure most of it was ad-libbed, and it works way better than it probably should.
- The acting. THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANKENSTEIN wouldn't be so funny if the actors in it weren't great. Joel David Moore, who has starred in the majority of Adam Green's projects, is fantastic as Adolf Hitler. He may not really look like him, but he takes the character and makes him a total baffoon. He overacts a lot of the time, but it works. He carries the film excellently. Kristina Klebe, from the Rob Zombie HALLOWEEN remake, is also great as Eva Braun. She gives the character a real sexual vibe and has some nice comedic timing as well. Kane Hodder, who I didn't even really recognize under the make up as Meshugannah, does what he does best - use his body language and intimidating stature to give Meshugannah a lot of personality and character. In fact, he infuses a bit of Jason Voorhees in the role, but does it with a lot of entertainment value rather than fear value. The other roles were filled in perfectly as well. Just a great cast in general.
- The direction. Adam Green has done it again. He's directed another great film that's obviously a homage to YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, but done in a raunchier and much violent manner. The black & white film, with a touch of grain, makes THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANKENSTEIN stand out amongst the rest of the segments. The blocking, composition, and framing is just great. The violent moments are done believably well. I thought one of the best moments was when Meshugannah was chasing Hitler in his lair. Instead of walking into the next set piece, Meshugannah breaks the fourth wall and walks around the set to go after Hitler. Then they break through a wall, leading to a set used in the first scene of the segment. I couldn't stop laughing at how cheap it looked, which made the moment great. I also loved the scene where one of the Nazi soldiers is choking on a dreidel for five straight minutes before dying. The actors react accordingly at first, but then start to get annoyed when the actor won't die. Green didn't try to make a serious piece here. He has having fun with the whole idea and it shows visually. I think he did a fantastic job as usual.
Richard Riehle - Cecil B. Kaufman
Corey Jones - Tobe
Kaili Thorne - Mayna
Brendan McCreary - Ryan Miller
ZOM-B-MOVIE is the wrap around segment that connects everything together. An employee at the local drive-in gets his penis bitten by his dead lover after trying to have sex with her corpse. He goes to work, even though he's in pain, spreading his now infected semen all over the place. Eventually while masturbating, the semen mixes in with the popcorn butter. During the showing of the previous three films, most of the audience is eating the infected popcorn and end up turning into flesh-eating and sex-crazed zombies. The survivors must find a way to live and escape the massive barrage of their fellow movie goers, who are dying and screwing at the same time.
- DEFECATION. This is supposed to be the fourth segment in CHILLERAMA, but is interrupted by the zombie outbreak. Introduced by fictional filmmaker, Fernando Phagabeefy [played by Joe Lynch himself], DEFECATION happens to be a film about feces. That's it. Feces on the ground. Feces hitting the wall. Feces covering people and food. It's just a movie about shit. This type of film is really just one-joke and would wear thin really quickly if it were the same length as the other segments. The good news is that it only lasts about five minutes, keeping it disgustingly funny throughout its short runtime. Lynch knew exactly when to cut it.
Also, you gotta admire a short that introduces SALO 2: THE NEXT DAY. If you don't get the joke, you need to brush up on your cinema knowledge.
- The horny zombies. The zombie genre is a pretty tired one at this point, to be honest with you. There's not much you could do with the subject matter that probably hasn't been done already. But I was not expecting to watch a ton of zombies fucking each other all over the place, spreading their infection around. It may not be totally original, but it added a different layer and feel to the zombies, making their actions perverted and entertaining all at once. Necrophilia has never been more oddly humorous.
- The characters. ZOM-B-MOVIE has the most characters of all the segments. And while many of these characters don't get a lot of depth since it's hard to focus on so many at once, at least they all had different personalities and most were actually very likeable. The main characters [Cecil, Tobe, Mayna, and Ryan Miller] have their own story arcs and they all come together very well by the end of the film. Cecil's bitterness about his drive-in closing and showing off his film knowledge by spitting random dialogue from famous films is both funny and believable. Tobe and Mayna's love angle is very cute, especially when she proves she's the tough one and he's the 'damsel in distress'. And Ryan's crush on one of the drive-in employees [who substitutes bad words with cute vocabulary] leads to his downfall. Everyone in this segment has a role to play and they play it well.
- The special effects. Every modern zombie film should have decent make-up and effects. Luckily, ZOM-B-MOVIE has both in spades. The zombies look great, as they look decayed and obviously infected. We get some nice flesh-eating moments, a penis being exposed and then ripped right off of the body, and even breasts that are lactating the infection. The infection goo is given a neon blue tint, making it look like something out of the 1980s in a way. I think the special effects and make-up teams did a great job.
- The direction. Joe Lynch does a great job bringing all the segments together while still containing ZOM-B-MOVIE as its own segment. The pacing is solid, as each act of the segment builds up wonderfully for its climax. The action, tension, and gross out moments are visualized really well. I like that Lynch wanted to make the wrap around story as memorable as the actual featured attractions, instead of doing a sort of Tales From The Crypt or Tales From The Darkside sort of deal where a host just introduces the segments, which probably leads to some sort of twist at the end. This could have been its own short film without the other segments. I think Lynch did a great job creating bookends for CHILLERAMA, creating an inviting beginning with the zombie bite and an exciting conclusion when all hell breaks loose. This is just a visually fun segment.
THE FINAL HOWL
CHILLERAMA is a solid modern anthology film that deserved the attention it got last year and still deserves now. While I WAS A TEENAGE WEREBEAR is slightly above average for not being as successful as it wants to be, the other segments [especially THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANKENSTEIN] are incredibly solid. We don't get many anthology stories these days, so I have to commend Rifkin, Sullivan, Green, and Lynch for coming together to make one horror fans can enjoy. Definitely worth a look and a buy if you like your horror to be gory, raunchy, and/or hilariously offensive.
3.5 Howls Outta 4
I'm not surprised that Sullivan's segment doesn't work. IMO he's a terrible director who has no idea of how a good horror movie works.ReplyDelete
Having said that, I'm still excited about Chillerama. There are far too less good horror anthologies these days, and we horror fans definitely need more stuff in the vein of good old classics like Creepshow 1&2 or Tales From The Darkside.
btw: the only 2 anthologies I've seen in the last 2 years were Snoop Dogg's Hood Of Horror (ugh!) and Creepshow 3 (yuck!).
I think Tim Sullivan isn't that bad of a director. I have enjoyed the films I've seen from him. Is he the greatest new horror director out there? Nah. But he's okay for the most part. I think the issue with his segment is that he had a message to express, which is fine, but did it in a way that was only not subtle, but overbearing and preachy. That never makes a fun movie. His segment sticks out like a sore thumb and really doesn't match anything else in the movie. From what some people told me, it wasn't even included during the premiere of CHILLERAMA, only shown once the film hit DVD/Blu-Ray. I believe it after watching the whole thing.ReplyDelete
As for the rest of CHILLERAMA, definitely check it out. Yes, we need more anthology films because there really aren't enough of them. The two you mentioned at the end there are horrible. But hopefully this one and TRICK 'R' TREAT both bring the sub-genre back.
Holy shit, Adam Rifkin directed one of the segements???!! I had no idea! I love that film he did called 'The Dark Backward'...soooo freaking weird. Im looking forward to this like you dont know man! Thanks for the awesome review.ReplyDelete
Another well done and detailed review, mi amigo! You definitely enjoyed the film more overall than I did, but that Anne Frankenstein segment was gold, from the story all the way to Moore's awesome performance.ReplyDelete
@Franco - Yeah, Rifkin directs WADZILLA. It's a nice homage to 50s monster films, like THE BLOB. I look forward to your thoughts on it.ReplyDelete
@Geof - Thanks, bro! ANNE FRANKENSTEIN is a segment I could watch over and over again. I really laughed hard with that one. So so good.