I’ve always been a fan of genre mash-ups. To paraphrase writer Alan Moore, life is so many genres at the same time why stick to just one? It’s always fun to see horror in particular mesh with other types of stories to create something different. And in the case of Chamber of Terror it zig-zags across a terrain of genre!
The story follows Nash Caruthers (Timothy Paul McCarthy), a certified kick-ass badass bad dude who’s reactions tend to be ‘punch first, ask questions later.’ The film opens with him having kidnapped Tyler Ackerman (Seth O’Shea) the scion to the notoriously brutal Ackerman Crime Family. Nash has sealed Tyler in a coffin and intends to get revenge on Tyler and his pals for a past misdeed. A month later, Nash is targeted, beaten, and kidnapped by soem goons sent by The Ackermans and taken to the derelict carnival ride and titular Chamber of Terror. There, he is confronted by Ava Ackerman (Jessica Vano) who is intent on looking good for her father and finding or avenging Tyler, one way or another. Unknown to all parties, the location has a sordid history beyond their knowing and it’s coming back to haunt them, literally…
Chamber of Terror is the debut feature from Michael Pereira and it really does try to shoot for the moon. Starting off as a sort of low-budget Reservoir Dogs before things begin to turn into Poltergeist. The mish-mashing of genre is evident with the character of Nash Caruthers. With his one-liners, threats, and perpetual sunglasses on his head, he would feel more in line starring in something with Schwarzenegger or Stallone. He’s a man’s man out for revenge on the Ackerman’s and he just be justified by the time the reveal of ‘why’ comes about. This hammy action star acting builds a fun contrast between him and the Ackerman Family goons who tend to bicker or get themselves hurt with almost Quentin Tarantino style flair.
The setting is just as much a character as anyone else in the film. The titular Chamber of Terror being a derelict amusement park attraction made even more frightening by its abandoned nature and becoming true to its name as the Ackerman patriarch turned it into a real life torture chamber for his mob’s victims and a place to dispose of them. Adding a whole other level to one seriously creepy carnival.
The story is set almost entirely there, but with plenty of room and twists to keep it fresh as the horror is unleashed. Speaking of, the FX in this movie are rather stand-out despite budgetary limitations. Almost entirely practical FX means there’s ample amounts of blood and guts put on screen whenever someone is shot, stabbed, or straight up torn to shreds. Befitting the retro aesthetic the story is aiming for.
While not the most inventive horror comedy, and leaning perhaps a bit much on the nostalgia factor, I can still appreciate that Chamber of Terror has a lot of drive and inventiveness. A madcap crime comedy turned splattterflick with some decent reveals that really made it stand out.