The ABCs of Death Movie Review
Written by Ryan Holloway
DVD released by Monster Pictures UK
Directed by Nacho Vigalondo, Adrian Garcia Bogliano, Ernesto Diaz Espinoza. Marcel Sarmiento, Angela Bettis, Noburo Iguchi, Andrew Traucki, Thomas Cappelen Malling, Jorge Michel Grau. Yudai Yamaguchi, Anders Morgenthaler, Timo Tjahjanto, Ti West, Banjong Pisanthanakun, Bruno Forzani & Helene Cattet, Simon Rumley. Adam Wingard & Simon Barrett, Srdjan Spasojevic, Jake West, Lee Hardcastle, Ben Wheatley, Kaare Andrews, Jon Schnepp, Xavier Gens, Jason Eisener, Yoshihiro Nishimura
Written by various writers
2013, 123 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
DVD released on 3rd June 2013
Many, many actors.
The concept for The ABCs of Death is wholly ambitious and one likely to excite many a horror fan, and I was no exception. Take 26 directors and ask them to go to the corners of their twisted minds to give us 26 glorious ways to die – sounds like movie heaven.
Among the directors tasked with blowing our minds are the likes of Ben Wheatley (Kill List) Ti West (V/H/S) and Jason Eisener (Hobo with a Shotgun) so you'll be forgiven for a little giddy anticipation.
Opening with Apocalypse from Nacho Vigalondo (Timecrimes) the film gets off to a literally head-battering start as a woman, who after poisoning her husband for a great length of time takes to just battering him to death with anything she can get her hands on. Perhaps this should have been 'I' for 'Impatience.'
Apocalypse is a dark and bloody start and one that you'd hope sets the tone for the next 25 shorts. Unfortunately, what follows is a series of largely incoherent short films that miss the mark far more than they hit. Some are twisted, some are funny, some are just plain weird and some should have been left on the cutting room floor, although I can't imagine "Most of the ABCs of Death" being a selling point.
When they do hit, however, they hit hard, especially on Dogfight directed by Marcel Sarmiento (Dead Girl), which is a stunningly shot piece about a cage fighter who finds himself in a bloody battle with a canine. Another highlight is XXL directed by Xavier Gens (Hitman) who gives us a very graphic depiction of an over-weight woman, ridiculed for her size, taking a knife to her excess flesh.
Sadly when it misses it's like watching an old ITV show about bad but 'hilarious' International adverts – hosted by Chris Tarrant. Take Fart for example, from director Noburo Iguchi (The Machine Girl), a ludicrous film about a Japanese girl being obsessed with her teacher who, as it happens, is some kind of God who can unleash farts that can suck you into her body. It's at this point that you start to wonder what else you're in for and the initial excitement turns to an overdrive of apprehension. The weariness is justified when Thomas Cappelen Malling's Hydro-Electric Diffusion kicks in, a perfectly normal film about a Nazi stripper Fox who seduces a British Bulldog in an attempt to kill him, only to be offed in a suitably surreal fashion. What next??
Now I enjoy a sick and twisted vision as much as the next HorrorTalker but there are some things that tear screaming into the realm of the depraved and therefore come across more of an exercise in how to shock than to showcase any real imagination. There can be no better example of this than Libido from director Timo Tjahjanto who directs a segment of the upcoming V/H/S 2. His offering centres on a game in which men are strapped to a chair and have to masturbate when presented with some truly indecent displays, the last to cum are killed in a very colourful way – it involves a spike...from the bottom of the chair...I'm sure you get the picture.
Adam Wingard and Simon Spasojevic offer a healthy slice of fun and ingenuity in Quack as they struggle to find a death that can possibly start with the letter Q and then later, upon trying to kill a duck (you saw that coming right?), meet their own interesting end.
The disappointing thing is that the film is largely hell-bent on the use of toilet humour, which features in at least 60% of the shorts, so it does start to grind with the exception of Lee Hardcastle's Toilet which takes his trademark claymation and uses it to hilarious effect.
You can't help but think that given more time this could have been something spectacular, it often feels like a bunch of students asked to do a short film for extra credit but have left it to the last minute giving the collection a very hit and hope feel. In other shorts where it is clear there was more budget it is so over-the-top as to completely distance you from the film and become far too surreal to properly enjoy.
So although The ABC's of Death is by no means perfect, being more Movie 43 than Twilight Zone, it's certainly not a complete disaster and there is a lot to admire in here.
See it for Dogfight, avoid it for Fart.
The ABCs of Death is in UK Cinemas from April 26th with a DVD and Blu-ray release on 3rd June.
Video, Audio and Special Features:
Video, audio and special features will not be graded as this was a screening.