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Chillers (1987)

Unrated | | Horror
Five passengers in a bus depot are waiting for a bus that is overdue. To pass the time, they start telling each other horror stories.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jesse Emery ...
Mason
Marjorie Fitzsimmons ...
Lindsey
Laurie Pennington ...
Sharon
Jim Wolfe ...
Ron
David Wohl ...
Conrow
Gary Brown ...
Scoutmaster Bob
Jesse Johnson ...
Billy Waters
Thom Delventhal ...
Tom
Bradford Boll ...
Nelson Crowder
Kimberly Harbour ...
Gloria / Ixpe
Michael Meredith ...
Hunter (as Michael Martin)
Will Tuckwiller ...
Jimmy
David R. Hamm ...
Scott
John Marshall ...
Station Attendant
Mike Frasher ...
Ron's Brother
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Storyline

While waiting for their bus, five passengers have just had horrible nightmares and decide to tell them to each other to help killing time. A swimmer, who has lessons in a swimming pool with a dead swimmer, tells the first one. A young boy, who goes camping with two friends and a crazy man as a leader, is the next. Then, a lonely woman, who has an infatuation with the anchor of a late night show, and finds that he is indeed a vampire. A young man, who finds he has the gift of bringing dead people back to life, brings a cold blood criminal back to life. Last, a skeptic professor of anthropology tells to his students about an evil Spanish creature from the Middle Ages called "Ixpe", and a young woman embodies it. When the bus arrives, they have a huge surprise. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Evil Travels in Many Forms ... Even By Bus!

Genres:

Horror

Certificate:

Unrated
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Details

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Box Office

Budget:

$250,000 (estimated)
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Writer/director Daniel Boyd also works as a college professor at West Virginia State University. One of Boyd's students discovered make-up artist Glen Harless working at a costume make-up shop in Huntington, West Virginia. See more »

Connections

References Deliverance (1972) See more »

Soundtracks

White Stains
Written by Thomas Doran and William Koff
Performed by The Molls
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User Reviews

 
A crappy film that happens to be pretty good
4 June 2005 | by (New York City) – See all my reviews

This was a really tough one to rate. I want to say that it's a crappy film that happens to be pretty good, but that might only make sense to a select group of people who have already seen Chillers. If I try to better pin down what I mean, I suppose it's that the performances in the film tend to be terrible, the directing and editing tend to be awkward at best, and the film tends to have a structural problem overall. On the other hand, the stories tend to be pretty good, the film tends to be impressive for its budget level, and one tends to sense a lot of passion and ambition from the crew and cast. I said "tend/tends" a lot above. That's not just because I don't know what the hell I'm doing as a writer--it's because none of those things are absolutes. For example, the acting tends to be terrible, but it's not always. Some of it passable. Some admirable. Really, it's difficult to say exactly why Chillers is a crappy film that's pretty good, but I'll try to flesh it out more.

The plot, on the "forest" level, is pretty simplistic. Late at night, a group of five strangers end up in a backwater bus station in West Virginia. Because of travel delays, they have missed their connecting bus and they're going to be stuck in the lonely station for hours. To pass the time, one of the five, Lindsey (Marjorie Fitzsimmons), tells the rest of a bizarre dream she had (we see her dream in "real time", so to speak--she's sleeping when we first meet her). Mason (Jesse Emery) then says that he also had a bizarre dream the night before, and tells the rest. It turns out that each passenger had a strange dream with similar themes. Thus, Chillers is constructed as an anthology film. Each dream is a short horror story that we see acted out in "real time".

So on a "trees" level, the five-fold plot (six, really, if we count the bookends) is a bit more complex. Lindsey's dream has to do with zombies and a pool. Mason's has to do with psychos and a camping trip. Sharon (Laurie Pennington) tells a dream that involves vampires and her infatuation with a news reporter. Ronnie (Jim Wolfe) dreams of being able to bring back people from dead. And Professor Conrow (David Wohl), an anthropologist, dreams of lecturing about the supposed Aztec god of war, Ixpe.

The fact that Chillers is an anthology film, with five different stories plus bookends told in less than 90 minutes, creates some problems. It makes the stories feel a bit incomplete. The potential isn't realized. Each segment is a pretty good story, even if director/writer/producer Daniel Boyd runs into some roadblocks as he tries to tell them, like the music video/romance sequence of the swimming pool tale. But it feels like he's shortchanging his ideas. Each segment could have easily been developed into a feature. There are plenty of untapped avenues in each.

Maybe that's being a bit unfair, as we could argue the above for most anthology films. But with a film like Twice-Told Tales (1963), or Creepshow (1982), none of the segments feel unfinished or untapped. In Chillers, the rapidly changing stories make it difficult for the viewer to become immersed in the film, and the basic idea of each segment is good enough that you want to become immersed in that world.

Of course, it doesn't help that the performances are so uneven. Some dialogue--for instance, most of the conversation in the bus station--tends to sound like amateur actors reading their lines for the first time. It's even more surprising given the patches of competence that shine through. Maybe it's just that at this budget level, it's not easy to even get everyone to show up on the same day, forget about extensive rehearsals. In light of this, though, it's amazing just how many extras are floating around in some scenes--there are tens of extras in both the pool segment and the college classroom segment.

At times, Chillers can become unintentionally funny. It is firmly ensconced in a 1980s ("fashion") style and vibe, which became dated and ridiculous quicker than just about any other decade. It doesn't help that the pool segment, which is first up, is mostly unintentionally funny. It's full of people that you're not sure you want to see in a bathing suit, and they're supposed to be aspiring professionals. Swimming burns off a lot of calories. If you're trying to be a professional, you don't tend be extra-"thick" or have a lot of cellulite (or a big Whitesnake hairdo).

It also doesn't help that Boyd used such a mishmash of music. The score ranges from super-sappy 1970s After School Special-sounding tunes to Path Metheny and Jaco Pastorious-influenced songs that are actually pretty hip. The problem with such a wide range is that it further undermines any aspirations for tonal or atmospheric unity .

The best segments are probably the camping and Ixpe stories. I can't say that either are scary, as I don't think that any films are scary, but both of those segments are at least well constructed, have good usage of locations, better acting (which is more remarkable in that three of the five actors in the camping segment are kids) and they're both somewhat creative. The bookends are probably a close third in quality, even with the rough dialogue delivery in the middle.

But no one watching Chillers is likely to be expecting Hamlet. Or, they'd probably prefer Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D. (1991) to Hamlet. While Chillers isn't quite as outrageous or gory as many fans of low-budget cheese-horror would like, it's worth a watch if you're into the subgenre. Just make sure you go in with zero expectations.


7 of 9 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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