Saturday, October 13, 2007

Chillers – review


Director: Daniel Boyd

Release Date: 1987

Contains spoilers

This is a five episode film, which is a little much as it comes in at under 90 minutes, perhaps a few less stories would have been wiser. It is also a Troma release and, thus far, I have not been too kind to the films they have put out, so will this one break the mould?

In a bus station five passengers are stranded and the first tale, about a dead swimmer, is the dream of one of the passengers. When she awakes she says she has had a nightmare and, lo, all the other passengers have had nightmares also. We get the psycho in the woods, the return of an Aztec war god and a man who can bring the dead back, but doesn’t research exactly who he is bringing back.

Of course we get a vampire tale also, which, as always, is the section this review is concerned about.

Tom on the newsThe passenger is Sharon (Laurie Pennington) and it is clear from the get go that she is lonely, and her nightmare reflects that. She, we later discover, grew up and went to school and college in the same town, not even moving out of her parent's house. Obviously wanting to get away she applied for jobs around the country and took the first offer. Now she sits at home at night with only the news anchorman, Tom Williams (Thom Delventhal) for company.

Sharon calls the stationAs she watches the news she hears him speak to her, telling her to call him. The phone goes and it is her sister (Virginia Lockewood) who, in some really badly scripted dialogue, suggests she just calls a guy. Ending the conversation she hears Tom, on TV, sign off and calls the station to speak to him but embarrassment gets the better of her.

Tom is a pain in the neckThere is a knock at the door and Tom is there, after an awkward moment on the threshold he asks whether she is going to invite him in. They talk, drink wine and he is going to go but she intimates otherwise and they end up in bed. During their tryst he develops fangs and bites.

Take away for vampiresA woman opens the door to Sharon’s apartment, from the inside, and lures in a pizza guy (Craig Weeks). Sharon leaves her room and sees the woman tapping the pizza guy’s vein into a glass. Tom comes up behind her and introduces his assistant. Sharon realises it was all true and asks whether she will become like him. The answer is negative, indeed in a few days she will die. It will be a glorious few days, he explains, and she was dying anyway – it was her weakness that let him in.

Nasty bite marksAfter that the only other vampiric lore we get is seeing the assistant blacking the windows and zipping Tom in a body bag for the day. Sharon’s neck is a mess of bites. She straddles the body bag, the assistant is distracted dancing to MTV, and stakes Tom through the body bag with, what appears to be, a hairbrush.

She escapes, after the intervention of a cop looking for pizza guy, and manages to get a plane to her sister's before ending up in hospital. The twist, for these things always have a twist, is that Tom appears as the new anchorman for the local news of her sister's town. Then she woke up.

In truth the twist is probably the most subtly done of all the episodes, and certainly better than the wrap-around's twist which you can see from a mile away, and the episode itself works well as a just below average little vampire moment. Its strength is simplicity and the fact that Pennington comes across as very natural. There is much worse acting in some of the other segments. There is some amusement, unintentional as it is, to be found in the very 80s fashion – especially in the first swimming episode.

I did notice that, from memory at least, the tannoy calls in the hospital were exactly the same as ones that would appear on Queensryche’s Operation Mindcrime album the following year.

what was the assistant's story?As always the score for this is just for the vampire segment and it was inoffensive, with a non-mainstream idea in the fact that the victim would not turn but die over a few days. This was counterbalanced by the fact that the segment is very short and thus the ideas are not developed and the characterisation, especially for characters such as the assistant, is non-existent. Still 3 out of 10 seems fair and the film as a whole is actually more competent than a lot of Troma releases.

The imdb page is here.

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