Blu-ray Review/Interview: Four 'Chillerama' Horror Directors Dish About Drive-In Flicks
Nothing says cool horror sass than a lovingly vile anthology flick that kicks a little ass! But add the fact that it’s the creation of four very different, but equally impressive up and coming filmmaking talents and you’ve got a five-star flick that adds more original guts and gore to an already lush genre. The flick in question is the soon-to-be-a-classic throwback to the drive-in movies of old aptly titled "Chillerama," out Nov. 29 on glorious Blu-ray and DVD from the good folks at Image Entertainment. We’re so blown away and impressed with the werebear and giant sperm prowess of this hoot of an outing that Starpulse is boldly going head-to-head, one-on-one with all FOUR directors of this joyously crazy flick in the tradition of "Creepshow." So following the glowing full-marks review, stay tuned for a roundtable style interview section with Tim Sullivan ("2001 Maniacs"), Adam Rifkin ("Detroit Rock City" and "Look"), Adam Green ("Hatchet" and "Frozen") and Joe Lynch ("Wrong Turn 2") as they dish up and then spew out strange blue goo on everything "Chillerama" related and beyond! So roll up the window, turn up the radio and snuggle down with your sweetheart – the ultimate midnight drive-in movie is about to begin!
Cast: Richard Riehle, Joel David Moore, Ray Wise
Director: Tim Sullivan/Adam Green/Joe Lynch/Adam Rifkin
Runtime: 120 minutes
Release Company: Image Entertainment
The Flick: Horror anthologies are a tricky prospect – they have the ability to be awesome (see "Trick ‘r Treat!") and appalling ("Creepshow 3" should be buried in the crate from the first film!). Fortunately, the four directors of "Chillerama" not only don't take the prospect of a story-within-a-story format too seriously (meaning the fun is in full force!), but also use their own unique and distinctive visions to breathe life to each of their respective stories. Adam Rifkin, so funny with "Detroit Rock City", but so effecting with "Look," brings both sensibilities to his ridiculous spoof on 50’s monster movies titled 'Wadzilla.' (Think "King Kong’s" sperm gone wild!) Adam Green, he of the "Hatchet" and "Spinal" flicks that mix both comedy and horror, re-teams with muse Joel David Moore, who plays Hitler in 'The Diary of Anne Frankenstein.' (Love the German – or non-German - dialect in this one!) Filmmaker Tim Sullivan takes a bold and ultimately successful step with his segment, staging a 'Happy Days' meets "Rebel Without a Cause" meets "Grease" piece consisting of gay men and large hairy man monsters in leather bondage for the unconventional and memorable 'I Was A Teenage Werebear.' (‘Love Bit Me On The Ass’ is a musical song number at it’s finest!) And lastly, Joe "Wrong Turn 2" Lynch wraps the sucker up with an equal parts nostalgic (Richard 'jump to conclusions mat" Riehle’s monologue about the old school theater experience is touching!), equal parts gross out blue sperm spewing undead fun with the sexually charged segment 'Zom-B-Movie.' (That’s not butter on the popcorn!) And the four brothers Grimm truly make this one a cinematic night to remember with plenty of film references (“nobody puts baby in a corner!”), deviant homages (the segment titled 'Deathication' would make John Waters blush!) and cameos galore (what’s better then Eric Roberts as General Bukkake and Kane Hodder as a Frankenstein monster...who dances?!) – "Chillerama" puts both sick and slick back into the anthology genre where it belongs.
Best Feature: That’s a bit like asking which child is your favorite! There are massive sections on 'Deleted Scenes,' some 'Behind The Scenes' and 'Making-Of' stuff. But for my money it’s the four member 'Director’s Commentary' that is the treat for fans who want to experience the similarities and distinctive differences between the four horror helmers!
Best Hidden Gem: Loved – even if it’s for a small part – seeing favorite actor AJ Bowen playing a little cameo in Lynch’s story as a drive-in patron with wife and kid (in car seat no less!) in tow!
Worth the Moola: This one should frankly be seen in the theater, in a Drive-In if possible, but in lieu of that the Blu-ray tops this year’s list of releases! (aka with it – collection considered complete!)
So can’t wait to listen to the commentary track? (Or just a lazy turd who wants the facts now?!) Starpulse has got you covered! Here’s our one-on-one chat, laid out roundtable style with "Chillerama" masters...
Tim Sullivan, Adam Rifkin, Adam Green and Joe Lynch!
How did you all become involved in "Chillerama?"
Tim Sullivan: I grew up in New Jersey and one of my things that was my big pastime was we had a drive-in movie theater and when I was a kid I would go there all the time. We would stay there all night long and watch these horror movies. Back then before Netflix and downloading the only way to see some of these horror movies was when they were revived at a drive-in. Cut to two years later I’m producing "Detroit Rock City" in 1998 with Adam Rifkin and we both realized that we had the same interests as kids. Mad Magazine, Kiss, DC Comics and drive-in theaters. We said we have to write a love letter to that experience and remind people of how cool the drive-in was.
Adam Rifkin: We met on that movie and as the flick progressed we bonded over our mutual love for grindhouse movies, B-movies, exploitation movies, best described as drive-in movies. Plus we wanted to use the drive-in as a hook for how we could show a bunch of small movies and the characters at the drive-in, who have been watching these movies, get sucked into the story as well. And then we met and started hanging out with Adam Green and Joe Lynch...
Adam Green: Tim and Adam approached Lynch and I one day and said, ‘What do you think about doing an anthology?’ Which in the genre you get approached with every other day – like let’s make another "Creepshow!"
Joe Lynch: One night they asked us to come to The Rainbow Room to talk about B-movies. We all realized we had a love and affinity for the communal experience of going to the movies and enjoying it with our buddies and horror fans alike – that energized the whole project.
Adam Green: There’s just gotta be something that was gonna make it little different and the whole idea of the last drive-in and each of the movies being from a different time period so that it wouldn't just be an anthology, but truly be four movies that are completely different from each other – that’s what made me said yes.
Adam Rifkin: We divided up each era amongst ourselves; Adam Green got the 1930’s monster movie, Tim Sullivan got the 1960’s beach movie, Joe Lynch got the 1970’s-80’s zombie movie and I took the 1950’s giant atomic monster attacks New York movie.
Adam Green: Also in my career I’m never gonna get the chance to make a black and white German movie, so I had to jump on that one!
Tim Sullivan: We all shook hands and decided that we would make this movie together.
Tim, I understand your sister thought up the title "Chillerama" – tell us more!
Tim Sullivan: My little sister – she’s eight years younger then me – when she was a kid my mom would take me to the drive-in in the car and we would put my little sister in the back! She was three or four and we just assumed she would fall asleep, but she stayed up! "Incredible Melting Man" and "Carrie" and "Grizzly" – she loved her Barbie’s and her 'Charlie’s Angels,' but she kind of liked that. Originally Adam Rifkin and I were gonna try and make this be like 'Famous Monsters: The Movie,' but when the rights on that didn't work out we needed a title. So one day my sister made a list of all these different titles – and one on the list was..."Chillerama!"
In the Blu-ray commentary Adam you get lovingly goofed on about being the odd man out in terms of making a horror film, but I remember the scene in your film "Look" when the teenage girl seduces her teacher and he finally succumbs – that’s chilling horrific stuff!
Adam Rifkin: I’m so glad you mentioned that – and thank you. John Landis, who was in the film, he was at the first screening we had of it and he said to me when he came out, ‘"Look" is a horror film – and that little blonde girl is the monster.’ I thought that was a really good way to put it. But many of the scenes in that film creeped us out while we were shooting them. The girl seducing her high school teacher, the child abductor stalking children through the mall – a lot of that stuff we filmed there was creepier to me to shoot and to watch then a lot of things I’ve seen in horror movies.
Let’s talk different segments - first up 'Wadzilla!' Now Adam, I love the idea of a 50’s monster picture, but where did a giant sperm come into play?
Adam Rifkin: I wanted the monster to just be funny – whatever the monster was it had to be a joke. So I thought...a giant sperm? I’ve never seen that, so that’s where it came about.
I especially love that the famed Chido brothers did the giant sperm effects – what did they bring to the table?
Adam Rifkin: They’re some of the few guys in town who do what they do that can bring such personality to their characters and to their work. And I knew that if they built this giant sperm monster it would have whimsy to it – they can’t help it, it comes out of their fingers. They dug what we were doing and in creating the monster they did not disappoint.
How in God’s name did you ever get Eric Roberts to play a character with the name General Bukkake?
Adam Rifkin: (Laughs) You know what, he’s just a sport. He totally got it, loved what we were doing and embraced the spirit of this love letter to B-movies. He was a fan of that kind of movie too and he was like, ‘F@ck yeah – I’m in!’
The great Ray Wise bravely takes a wall wave of sperm – even when Eric Roberts wouldn’t – is he up for anything?
Adam Rifkin: Ray Wise IS up for anything! Ray is the greatest guy in the world – I will use Ray Wise in everything. He just never gives a bad performance and he’s got the best attitude and he’s a total sport.
How did you get great leading lady Sarah Mutch in lieu of some of the racy things going on in the segment to her character?
Adam Rifkin: She got it. One of her favorite movies is "There’s Something About Mary" and one of her favorite actresses is Cameron Diaz. She said, ‘This is hilarious, I’m game, I wanna look like a goofball and it’s hilarious that I get hit in the face with a giant bucket of sperm – I’m down for anything!’ Everybody who signed on signed on because they all got it and thought it would be a blast.
Next – 'I Was A Teenage Werebear!' Tim, for the uninitiated can you explain the difference between a werewolf and a werebear?
Tim Sullivan: (Laughs) All right – for the uninitiated! A werewolf runs the gamut from the cool – like Lon Chaney and Oliver Reed – to the uncool – like (laughs) Taylor Lautner in "Twilight!" A werebear, in the gay community there is a group that is referred to as bears, which tend to be hairy guys who wear leather – a leather daddy. Ironically it was Joe Lynch who came up with the idea; he called me and said he had the idea for my movie. Originally it was gonna be 'I’m A Teenage Vampire' paying tribute to the teenage angst movies of the 50’s. He said, ‘I’m at Disneyland with my kids and I just saw the 'High School Musical' parade and I just got an image – what if Zach Efron got aroused and turned into Ron Jeremy!’
It took real guts to cast a gay adult film actor as your leading man – what have been the pros and cons of that decision?
Tim Sullivan: The pros were I just knew when I started I wanted a teen idol type and we saw about a hundred people. And this one kid, Sean Paul Lockhart, had been in a film I had seen called 'Another Gay Sequel' where he played a merman and my friend directed that movie and he told me if you’re having a hard time casting you really should consider Sean. I was impressed by his presence and his comedic skills, so we brought him in and he just blew us away. The pros were that he was the best for the part and he had no fear about any of the stuff that the role required. The cons were of course a backlash – oh my God, I don’t want to see a horror movie with a gay porn star in it! Me and the other guys all thought long and hard and to my gratitude and their credit they all said, ‘We’ll back you on this.’
Adam Rifkin: Sean was the best guy for the role who came in to audition and the career he had prior was irrelevant to all of us. I’ve used Ron Jeremy before – nobody cares.
I love the classic look of Anton Troy as the classic Fonzie style character of the group – how do you go about casting him?
Tim Sullivan: Anton brings it and pushes Sean! Anton came in and the kid looks like he just came out of a time machine from 'Happy Days' or like he’s James Dean and Elvis Presley’s love child! He was so authentic. We actually had this other person in his role and it was very interesting because three days before filming we got a phone call from the actor’s mom that she had just read the script and there was no way her son was gonna be in this movie. And we were stuck and all of a sudden everybody was like let’s call Anton! He came in and the chemistry was just unbelievable.
Your songs are awesome – especially 'Love Bit Me On The Ass' – how did you come up with the lyrics and music?
Tim Sullivan: I’m not a songwriter, I don’t play any instruments and I can’t read a lick of music, but I’m a huge fan of rock and roll. I loved those songs from "Grease" and it was a part of my makeup and we wanted it to be a musical to spoof those Roger Corman "Beach Blanket Bingo" movies. I knew what I wanted the song to say and I looked at "Grease" and all of sudden these melodies just came to me. We actually have a soundtrack album coming out! And we’ve been approached about expanding Werebears into a full-length stage musical – we’re gonna do it!
Tim, was that you as the sleazy Coach?
Tim Sullivan: Yes, yes...
Did you write the role for yourself?
Tim Sullivan: In that awful outfit! It’s my revenge against my homophobic gym coach from high school who was a real bully. But he was such a joke; he used to wear these tight outfits and his gut would be hanging out and he was such the opposite of a stud. I actually wouldn’t say he was homophobic, he just bullied all the kids who weren’t the best athletes – myself included! But I cringe when I see that on the giant screen!
Mr. Green – you and 'The Diary of Anne Frankenstein' are next! Your phrases from Joel David Moore that are translated are a mess of gibberish and strange out-of-place words – were they scripted or did you and Joel come up with them on the fly?
Adam Green: Every actor in the film is actually speaking perfect authentic German except for Joel, which was the joke. Hitler doesn't know how to speak German? From the get go we knew all his stuff was all gonna be gibberish, so we never even translated it to German. The goal was to have him start slightly convincing, where if you don't speak German you might buy it at first and then it keeps getting worse and worse. The back-story that we came up with on-set was there was this great German actor who was supposed to play the role and then at the last second he died and they just throw the gaffer in there. He was like, ‘I don't speak German!’ And they were like just wing it – you’ll be fine! So I was off camera feeding him lines like Boba Fett and he’s yelling them with the utmost conviction!
Having worked with Joel before was he your first choice to play Hitler?
Adam Green: Yeah, absolutely! As soon as I embraced the idea of doing a 1930’s Universal monster movie and doing it all in German, it was like if I’m gonna do this it all has to be making fun of Hitler. I don't want any holocaust jokes; I don’t want to see any concentration camps or anything that will remind people of the actual tragedy. I just wanted to make fun of the bad guy – and Joel was the perfect person for that.
Your Eva Braun is a total tasty tramp – was this based on research or simply wishful thinking?
Adam Green: Really, just wishful thinking! I really don’t know what Eva Braun looked like or what her deal was, but the idea of Hitler having this super hot wife who’s just with him because he’s in power, but is sleeping with everybody she can get her hands on because he’s impotent really brought it to a whole other level.
With Kane Hodder playing Frankenstein with dance ability, where could you possibly go next with him in terms of movie monsters?
Adam Green: Yeah – I don't really know at this point! I’ve made him do love scenes, crying scenes, a dance number. He’s sort of done it all. I keep joking with him like wait till you see what I have you do next, but I really don't know say for like a full on nude man-on-man sex scene! I don't know what else he hasn't done yet. He’s very willing to take chances – if he trusts you.
And last but not least – the blue balled 'Zom-B-Movie' via Joe! One of the things I loved about your wrap around Joe was the nostalgia for the drive-in and love of old school cinema – was that really important to you to add?
Joe Lynch: Absolutely! I had written a script years ago called "The Ozoners," which was a monster in drive-in movie on the last night before it closes down, so I basically stole all the good stuff from that! (Laughs) And I put it in 'Zom-B-Movie.' But I also love that it gives you that feeling like you’re hanging out in the car with these people, which is the best part about going to the drive-in. Watching these movies, hanging out with your friends and talking about the movie.
I heard on the commentary that you originally cast Keith David, but Richard 'jump to conclusions mat' Riehle is so pitch perfect for the role of the drive-in operator – how did he take to the material?
Joe Lynch: I’ve never worked with anyone so unbelievably light-hearted and loving and caring and so professional then Richard Riehle. Truth be told Richard was not my first choice – the original "The Ozoners" was written for guys like Keith and also for Clu Gulager, two 80’s icons. Green had kept saying, ‘What about Richard?’ He was so nice coming in and he immediately got what we were going for, the tone of it. When it came time to do that scene in the projection room, we shot in a real drive-in. It wasn’t a stage, wasn’t a set, wasn’t controlled – and we had to race against the clock. We were given from ten at night till four-thirty in the morning. But I knew the heart of this whole thing was Richard and I didn't want to rush it. So he has that very poignant monologue talking about the like what has happened to the magic of movies and he has a three to four page monologue. And I remember thinking if he doesn't nail this we’re really gonna be in a lot of trouble. Three pages of dialogue, by himself, in a confined room – and he nailed it the first take.
I love the choice of glowing blue for semen – what was the creative idea behind it?
Joe Lynch: That was a pretty direct rip-off of "Re-Animator" in a way. But I was thinking – especially in the script – there’s a lot of semen in this! There’s gotta be something visually that I can do to make it at least a little more visually interesting and not as disgusting, so I just thought we should make it some weird glowing ooze. But we can’t use green and yellow because that’s been used in "Re-Animator" and "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles." Red was just gonna be too disgusting, but I thought blue would work. And demon semen was born...popcorn will never be the same!
BTW – off topic, but I have to ask you Adam about the equally chilling ending to "Hatchet 2" – what was that like to shoot and how did you get Danielle Harris that pumped to do that scene?
Adam Green: For her, that was her whole career building up to that because she’s always been the victim and the girl being chased by the bad guy and stalked. Even in her real life, because of what she does, she’s had to deal with a lot of maniacs and crazy people and I think it was a lot easier to get her there then you might think. That was one of my favorite things to shoot – I love the whole last fifteen minutes of that movie.
So what’s next for all of you?
Tim Sullivan: Like I said, we’re gonna be doing the stage musical version of 'I Was A Teenage Werebear.' I want to continue to work with Sean – he and I have another horror project in the subgenre of Queer Fear. But I also really love music and I’m very blessed to be close friends with Ray Manzarek the co-founder and keyboardist of The Doors who wrote this amazing book called 'The Poet in Exile.' Imagine if Jim Morrison did not die and all these years later reached out to Ray and explained to him where he’s been all these years – it’s a beautiful fictional novel. So I optioned the rights and I’m gonna write and direct a movie based on it. I got a call from UTA saying that Harrison Ford wants to read the script when it’s written! Harrison Ford as a sixty-five year old Jim Morrison – that could be badass!
Adam Rifkin: Humbly, I’m proud of "Look" and it’s probably the best film I’ve made. And I humbly believe that the 'Look TV Series' starts right where the film takes off. I’m very proud of the series – I put the same amount of time, effort and dedication into making the series to make it as compelling, as arresting, as shocking as the movie. And I feel I’ve accomplished that. But I start shooting a new television series now – I can't tell you what it is yet because it hasn't been officially announced, but suffice as to say it’s gonna be very impactful.
Adam Green: There is gonna be a "Hatchet 3" and we get to keep going with it. A lot of people are like, ‘Yeah – but his head’s missing?’ So what! I feel like it’s extremely obvious that once the sun goes down, Victor Crawley is gonna attack. I’m really excited, especially now because I’m not directing the third one, I get to kick back and really enjoy the fruits of my labor. BJ McDonnell is directing – he was my camera operator on "Hatchet" and "Hatchet 2" and "Spiral." He and I are working on the script right now. I’m still gonna be heavily involved and I’m gonna be there every day. Who knows? Right now I’m saying I’m looking forward to it, but it could be the worst experience of my life, watching someone completely f@ck it up or something! (Laughs) Plus it was just announced that MGM picked up the script for "Killer Pizza," which I developed with Chris Columbus, based on a children’s book called "Killer Pizza." It’s about a kid who gets a summer job at a pizza place and then finds out it’s actually a covert monster hunting organization in the vein of the old Amblin movies. That’s why Chris took a liking to it – it feels very much like "The Goonies" and "Gremlins" and "The Monster Squad." Also as a director my sitcom 'Holliston' will start airing in April on Fearnet – it’s a sitcom I wrote, directed and starred in. I’m gonna sleep in 2013 for a week and it’s gonna be awesome!
Joe Lynch: I’m finishing up "Knights of Badassdom," which will be out early next year. And 'Holliston' the TV show that Adam and I did, which is pretty amazing. Plus I’m just now catching up to my new film called "Everly," which is a very unique action thriller. It’s unlike anything I’ve done before, but all my favorite directors never stay safe and they’re always taking chances, so for me I will definitely take a chance.
"CHILLERAMA" HITS BLU-RAY/DVD NOV. 29 FROM IMAGE ENTERTAINMENT.