Where does Synapse find this stuff? As an enormous fan of televised horror anthologies, sometimes I feel like I’ve seen it all. But I was completely unaware that Chiller even existed until the 2-disc set showed up on my doorstep. Unearthed from some presumably dank U.K. archive in the bowels of Yorkshire, all five hour-long episodes hit U.S. soil for the first time this month. Broadcast in Britain during the spring of 1995, this mostly-forgotten series was birthed in the middle of a renowned horror drought, which may explain the delayed release. Read on for the full review.
Chiller was broadcast in the U.K. during March and April of 1995. To plug that into an American horror chronology, the series falls somewhere between Freddy’s Nightmares and Sci-Fi Channel’s Outer Limits reboot. Finding detailed info about Chiller is crazy hard. Although a few cast members were TV regulars in the U.K., the directors and writers have languished in relative anonymity. In short, Chiller ain’t exactly a breeding ground for future talent, like say, Tales from the Darkside or Tales from the Crypt. But the gothic settings, rampant fog, and heavy film grain remain an appealing draw for salivating superfans of TV horror anthologies.
This first episode head-fakes a premonition narrative before evolving into an increasingly harrowing tale of child possession. Like most of Chiller‘s episodes, this one is both super cheesy and mildly disturbing.
There are adult ghosts, and there are child ghosts, and then there are the ghosts of miscarried babies. A entirely different lot, that one. Following a traumatic miscarriage, a loopy housewife is finally able to conceive once more, but as the pregnancy progresses, she begins to wonder if the spirit of her miscarried son has returned to wreak revenge. This episode is a little batshit, but some memorable scenes make it hard to shake.
Here Comes the Mirror Man
The weakest episode of the bunch involves a social worker trying to help a homeless dude. I had a hard time staying awake through all the fog and flashlights.
The Man Who Didn’t Believe in Ghosts
A condescending skeptic moves into an old mansion that’s supposedly haunted. When strange shit starts going down, he employs some dubious-ass logic to explain away the mysterious. Lots of flustered, red-faced ghost denial in this one.
This story throws a bunch of ingredients into the mix hoping for something well-baked. A child-killer working on a lunar cycle may be somehow connected to Druid sacrifice. Yep, there’s nothing like a pesky Druid sacrifice to fire up some small-town panic.
Compared to similar horror anthologies of the period, I found Chiller to be a little more complex and bizarre than the rest. The 90s were definitely a time of “what you see is what you get” horror, but even with the borderline acting and shoddy production values, it’s obvious that the makers of Chiller were striving to create something slightly outside the box.
3.5 out of 5 Skulls