Chiller (1985)

It's late night at the cryogenic storage facility, and things seem to be normal and peaceful as usual. Unfortunately, that's not to be the case. One of the guests has started to thaw out, and since all their clients are well-to-do, something must be done.

Reverend Penny (Paul Sorvino) is awakened by Marion Creighton (Beatrice Straight), the widow of a wealthy company owner, who wants to let him know a miracle has occurred. Her son Miles (Michael Beck) died 10 years prior of liver failure after rejecting a transplant, and it is his cylinder that has failed. In a never-before tried procedure, Dr. Stricklin (Alan Fudge), the head of the foundation, decides to bring him back to life, perform another transplant and use a new anti-rejection drug that was not available at the time he died.

At first it seems that all the doctors managed to do was bring back a vegetable, and Stricklin suggests Marion pulls the plug. She decides to wait just a little longer, and her decision pays off. Much to the surprise of the medical staff, Miles recovers and is soon home. Everyone is initially glad to see him, although it becomes increasingly obvious that he has changed. Taking his rightful place as head of his father's company, he proceeds to fire co-founder Clarence Beeson (Dick O'Neill), who has run things since Miles's death. He also starts to display violent tendencies, both in his alluded-to sexual abuse of a staff member and his lust for his foster sister Stacy (Jill Schoelen).

Reverend Penny becomes increasingly concerned that, although Miles's body has been brought to life, something substantial is missing - that being the soul. After an attempt by Miles to kill Penny puts the priest in a coma, it is up to Marion to deal with what has become of her son.

I originally saw this movie when it was on CBS back in 1985, and I remember some talk it generated around the time about whether or not resurrecting someone who had been cryogenically frozen would ever be medically possible. 26 years later and we are no nearer to being able to do such a procedure, and the way it is done here is complete fiction. It is a good thing not too much attention is paid to the exact science, but that really isn't the point. Although I'm technically an atheist, I still believe in a soul, or at least something outside a simple three dimensional world, that gives some sort of power to our bodies. I can even make scientific arguments for it. It is interesting to ponder what would happen to a body that was no more than some of our advanced robots, being able to learn, communicate and process information but not react with any compassion or emotional base.

I remembered this being a bit more violent, and a bit better, than it actually was. It's decent, bu definitely not one of Wes Craven's best, and the fact that it was made for television seems to have handicapped him somewhat. What is still memorable is that it is more about a moral dilemma rather than a slasher film, and Michael Beck's performance is suitably creepy.

Chiller (1985)
Duration: 104 minutes
Starring: Michael Beck, Beatrice Straight, Paul Sorvino, Jill Schoelen
Director: Wes Craven

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