Cravenous: Chiller


I know I’m calling this one early, but I’m going to have to say that Chiller is probably going to be my least favorite film from Craven’s directorial oeuvre.

It’s not that Craven did a terrible job on directing. It was a nice, solid, middle-of-the-road effort for a movie that was…meh. Not the worst made-for-television movie. Not the best. Just meh.

The story, written by J.D. Feigelson (who apparently had a very brief career as a screenwriter of other equally unmemorable-sounding horror scripts), contemplates what might happen if someone was revived from cryogenic suspension without their soul. He doesn’t have a very positive outlook for such a person.

Very existential-sounding plot, right? Of course, it requires that one believes that behavior is dictated by a “soul” rather than something less ethereal like personality, genetics, upbringing, etc. I’m not really all that keen on believing that who I am is contingent upon what my soul is like, or that missing my soul would turn me into a cold, calculating jerk with serpent eyes.

Really, really cheesy serpent eyes, mind you.

I don’t really have a whole lot else to say about this movie. It was rather dull, with no real standout directing or acting. Paul Sorvino is probably the most recognizable name. Beatrice Straight played the mother; horror fans will recognize her as Dr. Lesh from Poltergeist. Dick O’Neill was in it for a hot minute, for all you Cagney and Lacey fans.

I kind of feel as though this was an immense step backward for Craven after he dropped the magnificence that is Nightmare on Elm Street on us all. Then again, people might not have yet twigged to how amazing that movie was and how wondrous Craven could be when given control of his films. He was probably still just that guy who made horror movies to them. A shame, really, that he had to waste time on something like this when he clearly could do far better.

Ladies of Horror May-hem: Diane Freeling


What an interesting counterpoint draw to yesterday! Add another mother to the mix with Diane Freeling, JoBeth Williams’s matriarch in Tobe Hooper’s paranormal classic Poltergeist. This time, however, rather than unleashing a franchise of mayhem, our Lady stands against the onslaught of mayhem, unflinching in her resolve (for the most part…but she definitely deserved some of those flinches).

Strangely enough, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Diane Freeling on any list of greatest women in horror. I’m honestly stunned by this oversight. Never mind the fact that Poltergeist holds a special place in my heart as being the first modern horror movie I ever saw all the way through, Diane deserves recognition for being the ultimate defender and protector of her family.

After all, she is the one who bears witness to most of the increasing inexplicable activity and the first adult ultimately to believe that there is something happening that needs to be addressed. Even more importantly, she is the one who enters the other dimension to save her youngest child, Carol Anne, from horrors so fierce that she exits covered in unspeakably disgusting goo and marked with Bride of Frankenstein streaks of gray through her hair. Even with the fraction of horror we and the others in the movie witness coming through that portal, we can never truly fathom what she must have witnessed, all to save her child.

And, of course, it didn’t end there. Diane must fight to save her children once more, this time by herself. Surviving near violation and physical abuse, rescuing her children from a second abduction attempt by the spirit world, and ultimately coming face to face with the rotting corpses of bodies left behind by entrepreneurial assholes, Diane stands tall throughout it all, keeping her wits through the most atrocious encounters and altercations, and keeping her family together and alive through it all.