Chillers (1987)

| October 10, 2012

Troma recently teamed with Anchor Bay to reissue their early hit Mother’s Day (full review here), and around the same time they released a chunk of their back catalog onto Youtube for free viewing. Fans will be happy to have such immediate access to old favorites, but Troma saved another one of their 80s hits for its own DVD reissue. Daniel Boyd’s horror anthology Chillers was originally released in the late 80s and gathered a cult following, and now finally makes its debut on DVD. Shot on a very low budget over the course of six months, Chillers was a favorite of VHS-era horror fans, and although it often shows its low-budget roots, it’s still a fun little anthology.

Five strangers get off at a remote bus stop only to find they’ve missed their connection by half an hour, and now they have to wait until the next bus arrives to continue their journeys. To pass the time, they end up each describing the nightmares they all had the previous night. First up is a young woman who has a romantic encounter at a public pool that turns sinister. Despite at least one moment of genuine daylight creepiness, the concept of a haunted public pool is not all that scary, although Boyd does his best to make it look as ominous as possible. Most of the stories actually use familiar-looking places, giving the whole film a nice comfortable small-town feel, whether that’s what he was aiming for or not.

The rest of the stories run the gamut from a young man who discovers he can bring back the dead by wishing on their obituary in the newspaper to a lonely woman who develops an unexpected connection to a late night TV news anchor. Anthologies are generally spotty by nature, especially when each section is made by a different filmmaker. Since writer/director Boyd made all of the stories himself, the film has a fairly consistent tone and style. Unfortunately, this also means that the stories tend to blur together a bit, although the final entry about a gore-thirsty god possessing a young college student is bloody and colorful enough to really stick out. Boyd shot Chillers on film, and that gives the film a much warmer look than many of its shot-on-video contemporaries. It might not exactly be a lost classic, but Chillers is certainly fun to revisit as a snapshot of low-budget horror of its time and as one of the best titles of Troma’s heyday.

Troma released Chillers on DVD on 11 September 2012. The disc includes the film’s trailer and the standard “Tromatic” extra features included on all Troma DVDs (Troma trailers, etc.).

About the Author:

Jason Coffman is a film writer living in Chicago. He is author of "The Unrepentant Cinephile," and a regular contributor to Daily Grindhouse and Film Monthly as well as a member of the Chicago Independent Film Critics Circle. He is co-director of the Chicago Cinema Society and proud owner of 35mm prints of Andy Milligan's "Guru, the Mad Monk." Follow his long-form film writing on Medium:

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