Horrorfest 2021 Presents: Chillerama (2011, Adam Rifkin, Tim Sullivan, Adam Green, Joe Lynch)

Chillerama is a dumb, mostly amusing and decent enough send up of old school horror movies. This anthology flick opens with a guy’s dick being chomped on by his undead wife. He then shows up to work at a drive in movie theater showing a bunch of horror movies on it’s final day. If this isn’t the obvious wrap around story to you, it will be midway through. Or you haven’t seen enough movies.

We begin with Wadzilla, a fairly solid mocking of 1950s and 1960s monster flicks. Ray Wise’s doctor is responsible for a man’s sperm turning into a huge creature with teeth that eats people. This is mostly funny and also really gross, particularly in one scene where the poor guy’s blind date almost gets eaten by the monster! If there was one that could be a full length movie while also thankfully being a segment in this movie, it was Wadzilla. If this movie seems obsessed with disgusting moments that cross the lines of good taste, well guilty as charged.

I Was a Teenage Werebear is actually more funnier now I think about it, and it makes fun of movies that I’m not really a big fan of, although I did like Rebel Without a Cause. The songs were actually catchy in this one, and the final act is both outlandish and rather groovy. Also the coach got eaten! Or ripped apart, anyways. So much gore in this one. Lin Shaye makes an appearance in this one, making fun of the stereotypical gipsy woman in werewolf and horror movies.

The Diary of Anne Frankenstein is in really poor taste, although Joel David Moore mocking Hitler works, I guess. This was my least favorite one of the bunch and is thankfully not very long, as the material is rather thin. Legendary Jason actor Kane Hodder pops up as the monster Adolf brings to life, only to bring retribution down upon the Nazi leader.

The wrap around, Zom-B-Movie, is fun and enjoyable mostly because it has zombies and Richard Riehle kicking zombie ass the only way he knows how: with lots of guns. Kaili Thorne was a good final girl, too. Clearly this was made for die hard horror movie fans and those of us that don’t mind a little disgusting humor. Especially considering one short flick is literally a movie about people pooping, which was not very funny. I’m too old for poop jokes, I guess.

Horrorfest 2016 Presents: Genocide (1967, Kazui Nihonmats)

I tried not to compare Genocide to other 1960s monster movies, and yet I came away disappointed even though the film has some notable characteristics. There is some interesting thoughts on the nature of man and how destructive we can be, yet the film lacks the dramatic strengths necessary to overcome its weak monster. You have a monster movie without an actual cool looking beast, as in this film there are insects instead, although some appear as huge thanks to radiation. In one part of the film the insects act as a huge cloud that consumes a military plane carrying a nuclear weapon, a scene that is kind of suspenseful and then is followed by a love story I did not have any interest in.

Perhaps the other films in the Shochiku horror collection available on Criterion are better or at least not as slow as this one. Yes this film has an apocalyptic finality that works okay, however it comes far too late in the film. Also the poor acting, which I can excuse in a movie with better directing or truly strong themes hurts this film considerably. Not every Japanese monster movie had to be a Ishirō Honda style film, yet after seeing Genocide I think more praise should be directed his way for crafting something remarkable out of silly man in suits fighting each other films.

Top 20 Horror Films of the 2000s Presents: Cloverfield (2008)

14. Cloverfield (2008, Reeves)

Despite the recent binge of intelligent monster movies, there have always been smarter than average entries in the genre such as King Kong (1933) and Godzilla (1954). Not to mention another entry in this list that’s been previously noted, The Host (2006). Some have argued that Cloverfield is in fact a reflection of September 11, that horrific day when America was attacked and New York City was turned into a war zone, although not to the effect as showcased in the movie. I agree with them on that point, and its what makes Cloverfield an interesting horror/monster film and why I like monster movies: they echo our fears and paranoia about the unknown causing death and destruction upon our homes without warning. Some criticize the use of “Found Footage” style camerawork in this movie, but I like that style of film making especially in this case since it fits the chaotic and brutal nature of the creature’s attack on New York City, the reactions of a group of people that are the film’s main characters, and the military’s futile attempts to battle and deal with the monster. The first attack is particularly harrowing to watch, as the people at a party witness the early period of mayhem wrought by the great ugly beast.

Most of the film isn’t particularly scary, however the monster itself is pretty freaky and great to look at in terms of Lovecraftian design and style. With a bit of Godzilla mixed in for good measure, which is a nice touch. The tunnel scene however scared the hell out of me, largely because you cannot see what happens. You only hear the screams and the sounds of creepy crawly things going bump in the black, a dark nightmare that is really happening onscreen. Its a good thing I didn’t watch this movie in the theater, as I yelled several curse words while viewing that part of the movie at home. There is also the fact that this movie is completely serious, as past monster movies have needed to feature humor or be campy. Cloverfield is a near great film due to playing the material straight, and for being tragic and meaningful, putting the viewer in the middle of a truly bad day. For some, myself included, they recall a day of horror that we witnessed via the TV. For the unlucky others, though, they saw the events of 9-11 in person,  just like the people in Cloverfield. I pity them.

Top 20 Horror Films of the 2000s Presents: The Host (2006)

16. The Host (2006, Joon-ho Bong)

In the old days, monster movies were different: all you needed was a man in a suit, maybe just puppets and basic small characters made out of spare parts for a monster movie. They were cheep, cheesy, dated yet enjoyable: a marriage of B-movie style filmmaking and good fashioned entertainment. However modern monster movies have raised the bar considerably, The Host being one of them. Although its heavily political, not too subtitle and meaningful commentary on the US’s presence in South Korea is obvious, it also gives stark meaning to a film that is at times rather frightening, other times very emotional and engaging. The family unit comes under attack in this movie, and their only response is to hide at first and then attack and fight back, refusing to give up any hope of staying together as a group. Its that extra dynamic that makes The Host a first rate horror movie, a monster film with heart and soul that drew me in and stayed with me endlessly.

Sure the monster is CGI, but its also rather freaky, especially with its first attack on humans, a scene that takes place in daylight so that you can witness the beast in all of its raw fury. A risky gamble sure since the monster could have been taken as silly, yet this creature feature’s animal is born of environmental violations committed by scientists who failed to realize the ramifications of their actions. One scene has an American scientist arrogantly ordering a Korean scientist to commit awful violations that echo throughout the movie, especially since the monster results in quarantines that tear people apart. The Host despite its flaws and limitations is still a monster movie with purpose, an element that has been featured in so many of the good films of its kind the sub-genre and also in horror movies in general.

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