The Chilling (1989)

Linda Blair runs while “Grizzly Adams” Dan Haggerty fights zombies released by lightning from their cryogenic slumber! An evil doctor is using a cryogenics lab as an organ harvesting plant to make money in Mexico! And cryogenics is really an act of Satan!

Here’s a quick run down of the plot: the power goes out during a storm in the cryo facility, so the security guards take the thawing bodies outside because it’s cooler out there to hopefully slow their thawing. Unfortunately the pods are struck by lighting, and since the preservation fluid in their veins is extremely conductive, it brings the frozen corpses back to life as the living dead, who can only truly die by being refrozen apparently. There’s an odd attempt at adding a religious twist to this film about cryogenics being evil and opposed by God, yet thankfully this only appears in less than 5% of the film.

The rest of the movie focuses on a man with no emotions who has just lost his wife to natural causes and his son to bullets in a terrible bank robbery the son just so happened to be committing. Said emotionless man awkwardly tries to fight zombies and hits on a much younger Linda Blair while Grizzly Adams tries to turn on the power and does all the real work with a variety of weapons: a handgun, security car, liquid nitrogen, a shotgun… Hell, he even impales a cryo-zombie with a forklift! It’s unfortunate for Linda Blair and Grizzly Adams that they’re much better actors than the rest of this film. As for 1950s heartthrob Troy Donahue, well, he pretty much just chews the scenery and then ends up shoved in a cryo pod, but he’s delightfully creepy in his own way.

Then there are the zombies…which fail utterly beyond some interesting makeup. Most look like blackened and burned corpses, and these are ok, though they never seem quite sure if they’re supposed to run or shuffle, think, moan, eat people or awkwardly wrestle them, or what. I mean, what the hell kind of zombies are these? They’re inconsistent at best, and one in particular who has radically different makeup ends up grabbing a sword and walking around like he knows what he’s doing with it. Come on guys, you’re killing my suspension of disbelief! And when it’s all over, we get a shot of a zombie sitting like it’s about to drive a limousine. Ugh.

To top it all off, the movie then ends with a tongue-in-cheek sequence where each of the main characters has their future revealed, and yes, Dan Haggerty’s involves a reference to his Grizzly Adams days.

The Chilling is a mess, and unfortunately well beneath the abilities of some of its leads. I blame the script, because I don’t think the screenwriter really knew what he wanted out of it.

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