When one thinks of anthology horror, the Troma release Chillers more than likely does not come to mind. This 1987 film, written and directed by Daniel Boyd, is marketed as being ‘one of the most horrifying movies ever made’ – and in many ways it is incredibly horrifying. Chillers centers around something everyone experiences almost every night: a dream. In a small town bus station, five strangers sit waiting for their metal stead and go about passing the time with telling each other about terrible nightmares they’ve been experiencing.
The dreams are incredibly vivid and start off with an air of benevolence, yet each takes a turn for the worse. A woman has a dream she is a swimmer, taking lessons with a star athlete at the local pool. As he romances her, little does she know he is really dead and her fear of the high dive will lead to her ultimate demise. On a camping trip with his scout friends, a young boy discovers that their leader is in fact a crazed lunatic and they must fight for their lives. A young man fascinated with obituaries realizes that dying young may not always mean innocence as he brings back a serial killer. And a college professor teaches his class about an ancient evil called an Ixpe that ends up taking over a student’s body and wreaking havoc.
Each tale is more absurd than its predecessor; however, the story that takes the cake is really in the middle of all of these. And it’s a good one.
Picture a lonely woman watching the local news. She admires the news anchor that she considers handsome and as she watches, she hears him telepathically call to her. Moments after a perfectly framed phone call where the news anchor stands next to a cup from a restaurant called Rax – which was a popular fast food chain mainly in Ohio where the movie was filmed – the man is at the woman’s door. Immediately they’re intimate and guess what?! He’s a vampire! Suddenly, there is some goth chick dancing in this lady’s living room one moment and draining a pizza boy the next. And right when you think it can’t get any more confusing, the vampire news guy and goth chick are sitting at a table playing backgammon and eating pizza, making this the greatest movie ever. Ok, not ever. Actually, this movie is awful. It’s so awful it’s fantastic.
Chillers opens your eyes to how 1987 really was – a far more simple world that what we live in now. Anyone could be in a movie – it didn’t matter what you looked like or how well you acted. That being said, part of the beauty of Chillers is that these thespians are pretty convincing in the outrageous, badly written stories they are given. Chillers is the type of movie you’d rent for a sleepover when you’re ten. It’s far from scary, but the look and feel of the movie is eerie and unsettling. The bus depot set alone gives an aura of abandonment. The quality of the film looks like it was made for TV and perhaps each story, if given more time to be fleshed out, would’ve been better suited for an anthology program like Tales from the Crypt or The Hitchhiker. The ending gives a nod to a classic Twilight Zone episode as the destination sign on the bus switches from Willoughby to Hell, a place you may or may not be in while you watch this movie. So, grab some friends and beers for some laughs, because you’ll never know unless you give it a try.