The Chilling (1989)
By: Devon B. on June 28, 2013 | Comments
Shriek Show (USA) | Region 1, NTSC | 4:3 | English DD 2.0 | 91 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Director: Jack Sunseri, Deland Nuse
Starring: Linda Blair, Dan Haggerty, Troy Donahue
Screenplay: Jack Sunseri
Country: USA
External Links
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In the early 90s we had a family friend in the video distribution business, so I ended up with a lot of video store posters. Normally the ones up for grabs were posters for movies the stores hadn't been interested in, so I had posters for all sorts or rubbish, including The Chilling. I can't remember if I kept the poster up because I liked it or because I thought it looked silly, but either way, I never forgot the image of the zombie coming out of what looked like a freezer (but that I now know was a cryogenic tube). I never found the movie on video, but I wouldn't say I took part in a diligent quest for it so maybe that's why. I was perusing Code Red titles and saw they'd released The Chilling and thought given I'd been somewhat curious about the movie for 20 or more years now I might as well give it a go for the Halloween season.

The Chilling is about cryogenics, like the kind Walt Disney is frozen with. In the movie there've been some new breakthroughs in the field of keeping people on ice, using a green liquid. I know it's green because the colour is clearly specified. If only the filmmakers had met Dr. Reanimator he could've told them to just call the liquid Green Colour (and maybe they could've asked for more). That would've made the specifying of the liquid's colour seem less forced because it could've gone something like:

EVIL DOCTOR

We have made significant advances in cryogenics thanks to Green Colour.

SOME RICH GUY

Green Colour? What is that?

EVIL DOCTOR

It's a liquid that we inject in to people to enable greater cryogenicism.

SOME RICH GUY

Why's it called Green Colour?

EVIL DOCTOR

Because it's colour is green. The only drawback is sometimes it makes people party without limits, have sex and don't be blue.

SOME RICH GUY

So freedom is eternal?

EVIL DOCTOR

Once you've had Green Colour it will be for you, you, you!

Yeah, I missed my calling as a film writer… anyway, there're some dodgy dealings going on at the cryogenics place. Then six months later, on Halloween, some armed robbers get shot. One of the robbers turns out to be the son of the rich guy from before, and since his son is now mortally wounded he wants to freeze him. The rich guy meets up with cryogenics employee Linda Blair, and despite the fact that his son's dying, she immediately delves into her personal problems. Blair works out something is amiss at the company because there's some lame cover up involving the guy's son, and then, wouldn't you know it, a storm comes and knocks out the power. During the outage the security guards, one of whom is played by Grizzly Adams, decide to move the metal containers outside because there's no place cooler than outside. Now, the storm is still going, and I have a fair guess that a well insulated, previously cooled environment would be cooler than outside, and I wouldn't want to be moving big metal containers during a storm, but I've worked with some really boneheaded security guards so I actually found the fact these idiots came up with this scheme as plausible. As is to be expected, the cryo tubes get struck by lightning, and the frozen people wake up and want to wreak havoc.

The Chilling is pretty slow going, with the first third having nothing much happen aside from the robbery, and the film's nearly half done before a zombie appears. The zombies have been put in foil suits for freezing, so they look a bit like astronauts. Aside from looking like space zombies the makeup wasn't very convincing, and was just another tacky element in a cheap movie. The acting is almost all bad, and the script is lazy, with the story taking some implausible leaps for convenience's sake, and I don't just mean the cryogenic related stuff. A few unintentional laughs are to be had, but otherwise there's not much to this lacklustre effort. This is evidently a "director's cut" and I have no idea what the alterations are between this and the previous release, but I don't think it was anything of interest because the movie's pretty tepid.

The Chilling is no Night of the Living Dead, or even its remake, but it's better than, say, Day of the Dead: Contagium. Way better.
The Disc
The movie starts with some opening crawl text and credits that are plagued with interlacing, and things don't improve much from there. I know The Chilling is an obscure 80s movie, but I thought it looked a bit soft even taking that into consideration. The print has spots and specks, is prone to crush in the dark scenes and I noticed a few artefacts. Not great, by any means.

The 2.0 mix is decent. The gunfire sounded a bit shallow, but that was presumably a flaw on the source material. The dialogue is clear, and some of the storm and wind sound FX were quite good.

The DVD has a behind the scenes, outtakes, the trailer and an extended promo trailer, a Shriek Show trailer selection, and an artwork/still gallery. The behind the scenes runs a little over 20 minutes, and is raw footage. I wasn't very interested at first, but things do get a bit more engaging when the making of moves onto the FX work. The outtakes don't have any audio, which made me wonder why they were included because flubbed lines only work if you can hear what went wrong, but it becomes clear that the outtakes section is just an excuse to include multiple takes from a deleted shower scene. YAY!
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
If Disney could see the way his frozen body's likely to be treated, he'd be rolling around in his tube. It's clearly stated that what the viewer is seeing is the work of Satan, but I'm not sure if that's cryogenics in general or evil scientist cryogenics? Either way, I bet Walt wishes he'd known he was dealing with the devil before putting his head on ice. The Chilling didn't bore me, but I have a high tolerance for pain when it comes to 80s horror. It's not really one I'd recommend to anyone, but I didn't hate it. I was surprised when I saw that the film looked better in the extended promo trailer than in the feature itself, so I wonder if in order to present this "director's cut" a less than stellar print had to be used. However it happened, this DVD leaves room for improvement, but I don't know that anyone will ever bother.
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