Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Chilling (1989)

Reviewed by JM

You could crank up a Van Halen piano rock song. You could put it in a shiny can. You could even come up with a catchy new name. But, at the end of the day, Crystal Pepsi is was just watery corn syrup.

Well, no matter how you dress up The Chilling, it is still garbage.

I bought this movie because it appeared to be some wonderful, long-lost Linda Blair classic. It is labeled as a “director’s cut”. It came in an eye-catching white box. It even had great E.C. comics-like cover art.

Unfortunately, like with Crystal Pepsi, I was fooled by the marketing.

First, let’s get back to this being a director’s cut. Well, the director is Jack A. Sunseri… me either. I suppose that should have been a tip off to me. I looked him up on IMDB and found out that he later went on to direct… not a thing. Before this movie, though, he directed such classics as…er… Well, this is the only movie that he ever directed.

Now, let’s take a moment to look at this movie and its place in Linda Blair’s career. Made one year after co-starring with David Hasselhoff in Witchery, Linda co-stars with another TV personality in this one… Dan Haggerty of The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams. So, it is safe to say that this movie is rock bottom for Linda. She would begin pulling her career together the following year with Repossessed. But, it continues to be a long climb that has, thus far, peaked with a role on S Club 7 and co-hosting the Scariest Places on Earth with Zelda Rubinstein.

So, how about the movie itself? As I mentioned earlier, it is garbage.

It begins with the following narrative, that I feel is important to transcribe.

“This is a story about Cryogenics, also called Cryonics- the science of freezing a human body to come back to life someday in the future. The facts are true, the characters are fictional…

… The story you are about to see could occur in your own community… and what if things were to go wrong? The moral and technical dilemmas are obvious. We ask you… would God approve; or is this Satan’s work?”

I have a few things to point out.

First, “…The story you are about to see could occur in your own community… and what if things were to go wrong?”. This is a story about zombies. What do you mean what if things were to go wrong? How much worse could things go?

Second, “… the moral and technical dilemmas are obvious”? I get the moral ones. But the technical dilemmas? Like should we use a back up generator or not? Actually, that technical dilemma is pretty worked out in this movie. But, more on that later.

Finally, “…Satan’s work”? Cryogenics is Satan’s big, master plan to undermine the human race? Well, Satan, time to go back to the drawing board. This “work” is a waste of your time and ability.

Linda plays Mary Hampton, an assistant at the Cryogenics lab. At the beginning of the film, she is comforting Mr. Davenport, a rich guy whose wife has just died. She spends some time with him reassuring him that freezing his wife’s corpse is well worth the expense. I mean, in the future, they can just thaw her out and cure her… right??

Anyway, the next thing you know this epic jumps ahead six months… and Mr. Davenport’s son dies in a botched bank robbery (in a bank that looks like it is set up in a high school gym, or something). Of course, Mr. Davenport pops the boy in a freezer, too. You know, for the future when they can cure fatal gunshot wounds.

Now that is an interesting way to take advantage of a statute of limitations.

What a crappy year for Mr. Davenport. At least, though, he has the comforting Mary Hampton to help him through his grief. They open up to each other, and in one wonderful flashback, we see that Mary does not have a great home life.

In this flashback, we find Mary washing dishes… a man walks up behind her goes to hug her. She says “this doesn’t work for me”. He erupts like a big baby. He is supposed to be drunk, but comes off like a whiny high-schooler with MS.

Anyway… there is a storm and the security guard panics because, you know, if they lose power all of those bodies will spoil and he will be out of work. So, he and his buddy roll all of the containers outside because, you know, it is cooler outside and the bodies won’t thaw so quickly.

But, his brilliant plan had one flaw. Lighting. A bolt hits all of the containers and everyone comes back to life.

That’s Murphy’s Law for you. But, that is why you have to plan for this stuff and buy a friggin’ back up generator.

Now the good news is that cryogenics works. Unfortunately, the dead come back wrapped in aluminum foil jump suits and their faces look like soaking wet mid-priced ghoulish Halloween masks from Walgreens.

So, the zombies walk around very slowly and terrorize everyone in the lab for a little more than a half an hour. But, by the end Grizzly Adams and the gang escape and pretty much kill all of the monsters.

The experience of watching this movie is very reminiscent of being stuck at home with chickenpox in early elementary school. It walks the fine line between boring and nauseating. Still… it is better than The Mist or Zombies Gone Wild… if for no other reason than Linda Blair’s hair, which you may mistake for a very expensive Daniel Boone cap.

One and a half fingers.


  1. i've made the same mistake with those enticing dvd covers...damn marketers and their clever ploys

  2. First off, I liked crystal pepsi for about 8 minutes back in the 80's so back off! :)

    Second, poor Linda Blair. I loved her boobs for about 8 minutes at a time in the 80's. I think that Rick James and cocaine ruined her... sigh.

  3. Now you back off!! Rick James never hurt anyone! In fact, while Linda Blair's career was at an all time low, he was kind enough to give her a contract and repackage her as Teena Marie.

    That's my theory, anyway.