Chilling, The (1989) *
D: Deland Nuse
C: Linda Blair, Troy Donahue, Dan Haggerty, Jack De Rieux, Ron Vincent, Michael Jacobs
P: The power at a cryogenics facility gets knocked out on Halloween night during a thunder storm. Two security guards take the cryogenic containers outside of the facility until power can be restored. However, lightening strikes each of the containers reawakening the people, who were frozen, as zombies.
The Chilling touched upon a topic that was very hotly debated during its time- cryogenics or cryopreservation. Me personally, I find the idea to be quite intriguing. What if you had a family member who was dying and you had the chance to possibly bring them back to life at a later time, would you take that chance?
This initial idea also opens the door for some other intriguing questions. What are the day to day operations of a cryopreservation lab like and just exactly how do they run? Would these cryopreservation labs be honest in how they handled someone or are they up to something far more sinister? What medical ethics are involved in this practice? What is cryopreservation all about anyway?
Linda Blair stars as Donahue's assistant. She also helps various families as they go through the cryopreservation process. She genuinely believes in what she's doing little realizing that her boss is using these people to harvest organs on the black market. One thing that I've always liked about Linda Blair is that she has sincere, likable presence. With The Chilling, it has been reported that Blair quit halfway through filming, because the initial elements that drew her to the film were being tossed aside to make the film more marketable. It was either that or a pay dispute.
Halfway in, the film switches gears to become a zombie film. That's when everything starts to fall apart and any goodwill the film had established earlier is torpedoed. First, I found myself asking why would a simple lightening bolt bring someone back to life? Then I wondered, if these people's organs have been harvested, how would they even be able to function, even as a zombie? And why would they come back as a zombie? And why would any shred of the humanity be wiped out?
Even if I was willing to toss logic & reason aside, the zombie carnage is poorly put together. The zombies are costumed in what appears to be Reynold's Wrap. The zombie effects are poorly thought out. They look more like Halloween masks then actual makeup artistry. The combination of the costuming and makeup provides a few unintentional chuckles.
Furthermore, the film takes place on Halloween, but the Halloween elements come across as forced. I found myself asking, why exactly does the film take place on Halloween and what actual purpose does it serve to the story? Characters have a habit of disappearing for prolonged periods of time only to reappear randomly. There's a tacked on ending which opens the door for a sequel that feels completely superficial.
This is one of those films in which I feel they strayed so far from what they initially intended to make. There's elements of cryogenics & cyropreservation, some zombies, some once famous stars who had hit rock bottom in their careers. It takes place on Halloween. There's a little sex and nudity. There's sub-plots involving black market organ harvesting and a bank robbery. It's like they took every marketable idea that they could find and threw it into a big pot and hoped that somehow or another it would all work out.
I did manage to watch the film in its entirety. Afterwards, I felt completely confused and bewildered as to what I had seen. I just had no idea what to make of it. At least, Linda Blair had the good sense to get out while she could. [R] 91 mins.
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