It has officially been Spring for about two weeks now. The problem it seems is that Mother Nature either didn’t get the memo or decided to extend April Fools Day this year. Here in New York, it is currently 36 degrees with winds up to 25 miles per hour. Looking out at the snow-covered trees, I couldn’t think of a more fitting film to watch than Deland Nuse and Jack Sunseri’s The Chilling.
Doctors at a cryogenic research facility are freezing the deceased, so that they may be reunited with their loved ones some day down the line. At least, that is what they are telling their clients. They are indeed freezing the dead, but they are also removing their organs and selling them on the black market. On Halloween night, a storm knocks out the facility’s power, leaving the cryo chambers in a precarious state. In hopes of keeping the pods chilled enough until the power is restored, the overnight security crew transport them outside into the freezing storm conditions. It doesn’t take long, however, for lightning to strike the conductive chambers, bringing the corpses back to life.
There are tons of zombie flicks that came out in the 1980’s, so I am not at all surprised that filmmakers wanted to get in on the action themselves. The problem is not everyone can make a The Return of the Living Dead or Night of the Comet-caliber film. Unfortunately, The Chilling is nowhere near as good as either of those titles or a lot of the other enjoyable entries into the sub-genre of that time period, for that matter.
The main draw for horror fans who are interested in The Chilling is arguably the involvement of Linda Blair. The actress stole the show with her performance as Regan in the classic 1973 film, The Exorcist, but sadly her delivery here was nowhere near as memorable. Blair leads a cast full of sub-par performances that really made it difficult to get through this 90 minute story of the undead. The only saving grace for this one was Grizzly Adams himself, Mr. Dan Haggerty. Haggerty was great as the light-hearted, yet rough and tumble Sergeant Vince Marlow. He surpassed everyone else on screen with his natural abilities and pretty much carried this entire film all on his own.
Dreadful acting aside, I do have some positive things to say about this one. In a sub-genre that was over-saturated even at that time, writer and co-director, Jack Sunseri, was still able to bring a pretty original story to life. I respect the fact that there were a plethora of differences between this film and others like it, which helps earn this one a few points, in my book. On top of that, the frozen undead seen throughout The Chilling actually look very different from most other zombies of that era, introducing a new breed of walking corpses, aptly dubbed ‘crypnoids.’
The Chilling is not in the running for best zombie film of the 80’s, but I do think that it is worth at least one watch. Gather some buddies and be sure to forewarn them that they are in for some low-grade zombie action. Then enjoy the show!
I give this one 2 frozen historical figures out of 5.