Wednesday, 17 July 2013


While I prepare for the incoming EXTREME HORROR WEEK on GUTS AND GROG and finish some work I have going on other projects, Mad Jester is more than happy to share a review of a movie he recently subjected himself to. Enjoy!



Imagine, if you will, the most surreal, disturbing dream you've ever had. (For me, it's the one where a pirate who has an entire drawer's worth of silverware for a hand- instead of a hook- crashes through my bedroom wall and tells me that my father is going to sell me to Eastern European fight promoters unless I fill a syringe with toothpaste and inject my dog with it.) Now, farm it out to twenty-six different directors and edit their works together.

Got that?

Good. Now you've got the overall gestalt of Drafthouse/Timpson Films' The ABCs of Death, the movie Uncle MJ's reviewing this time 'round. It's a fascinating, if somewhat perplexing, look at the subject of death through the eyes of 26 directors from all over the world- each given a letter of the alphabet and complete creative freedom to make a short film. It's pretty hard to encapsulate all at once (this is not the first form this review has taken) and not at all cohesive, but I found it to be very entertaining.

This film is by no means consistent in theme (apart from 'death'), or even in levels of gravitas. There are segments that are harrowing- for example, 'P is for Pressure' (directed by Simon Rumley), wherein a young mother must prostitute herself to make ends meet for herself and her young daughters, and eventually resorting to making... specialty films.


Other segments are more saddening, like 'I is for Ingrown', which shows a woman bound and gagged in her bathtub, and the thoughts that float through her mind as her husband injects drain cleaner into her neck and she dies aspirating on her own vomit. (Say, gang, who's up for tapioca?) Still others are downright silly, including two separate offerings from Japan: 'J is for Jidai-geki (samurai movie)', directed by Yudai Yamaguchi, shows us what happens when neither participant in a seppuku takes the matter very seriously...

Bringing new meaning to the term 'laughing in the face of death'.

...and, predictably, Noboru Iguchi's 'F is for Fart', a bafflingly surreal glimpse at an unconventional love blossoming despite the onrush of certain doom.

Love is blind. And sometimes flatulent.

Which is not to say that there aren't more 'traditional' horror offerings to be found. For example, Adriàn Garcia Bogliano gives us 'B is for Bigfoot', wherein a young couple tells the man's young cousin a tall tale to scare her into going to bed, and discovers that not all tall tales are merely stories. Then there's Ben Wheatley's 'U is for Unearthed', which  depicts a vampire-hunt from the viewpoint of the vampire, from disinterment to purification ritual to, finally, staking and beheading.

This is how they're going to have to eventually take out Keith Richards.

Two segments were of particular interest to me personally. First was Kaare Andrews' 'V is for Vagitus (the cry of a newborn baby)', not only because it's a chilling look at a future wherein all procreation is strictly regulated by the government and enforced by the police (including a kickass minigun-toting police robot), nor because the gestapo get theirs in the form of a powerfully psychic unsanctioned child, but because it takes place- and was filmed- in my beloved Canada; Vancouver, to be precise. (We like to call it 'Hollywood North'.)

The second is 'W is for WTF?', which was directed by Jon Schnepp- the same wonderfully whacked-out wizard that brought us Metalocalypse. He brought all the blithe, hypnagogic glory to this segment as he did to the show, and it makes for a short that manages to be surreal, funny and unsettling, all at once.

Yes, zombie clowns. Yes, I did squee.

Taken as a whole, this is not the sort of movie into which one tucks when one is looking for a nice, light watch. While not especially deep or involved, necessarily due to the format of the film, it's simply too varied a smörgasbord to slap in the DVD player and relax to. However, this is not to say that it's not worth a watch. It's an incredibly ambitions project, and in my opinion, pulled off very well. It doesn't convey a consistent level of dread (I suspect some of the segments were created specifically as comic relief), but it's still engaging and entertaining nonetheless. Certainly not cheesy enough for Bad Horror Movie Night (with the possible exception of  Yoshihiro Nishimura's 'Z is for Zetsumetsu [Extinction]'), nor just-plain simple enough to fit into a regular horror marathon, it's also not artsy enough to be unaccessable (with the possible exception of Helene Catet and Bruno Forzani's 'O is for Orgasm'); still, it's imminently watchable, and something worth bearing in mind when one feels like a switch from one's usual fare.

But for Nyarlathotep's sake, don't watch this under the influence of LSD. Your head asplode.


  1. I said 'imminently' when I meant 'eminently'. I HAVE SHAME.

  2. I liked Ti West's story the most even though it was hella short. Great write-up!

    I've been watching this page for a while, but due to my laptop being incredibly slow I couldn't follow your page. Luckily, my laptop is fixed and the first thing I did was come up here and follow you. I love this page, it's great!

    If you want to chat more horror check out my blog,

    p.s. we follow each other on twitter :)

  3. I've heard varying opinions on this movie, and yours was very thoughtful and thorough. I really enjoyed reading your review and having another opinion to add to the pro pile. Great review! :-)

  4. I watched the majority of this movie with him. Overall opinion: It's a decent complication of pretty good, although sometimes odd, short films.


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