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The ABCs of Death – 6


Director – Kaare Andrews, Angela Bettis, Hélène Cattet, Ernesto Díaz Espinoza, Jason Eisener, Bruno Forzani, Adrián García Bogliano, Xavier Gens, Lee Hardcastle, Noboru Iguchi, Thomas Cappelen Malling, Jorge Michel Grau, Anders Morgenthaler, Yoshihiro Nishimura, Banjong Pisanthanakun, Simon Rumley, Marcel Sarmiento, Joe Schnepp, Srdjan Spasojevic, Timo Tjahjanto, Andrew Traucki, Nacho Vigalondo, Jake West, Ti West, Ben Wheatley, Adam Wingard, Yudai Yamaguchi

Cast – Various (no way in Hell I’m typing them all)

Release Year – 2013

Reviewed by John of the Dead

That is right folks. After months of waiting and several weeks of putting it off I have finally seen the most colossal horror anthology of all time, The ABCs of Death. 26 films written and directed by 26 directors make up this two-hour long film, giving viewers a horror experience unlike any other before it, and I highly doubt there will be another like it in the near future. Fans of anthologies, like myself, should be elated at such a monstrous effort, but with so much going on that also makes for numerous opportunities for this experience to fail. There is plenty of good in The ABCs of Death, along with some bad, and lots of mediocrity, and while the overall experience could have been a better one it is definitely a film I recommend just so you can experience this huge undertaking of horror.

The stories in this piece range from the extremely bizarre and downright insane to simple ones very much like the average horror films we see today.  Instead of writing a review for every one of the 26 films, I will write a snippet for each.  I will start with the episodes that I felt were the best, in alphabetical order based on their rating, and go on from there until we get to the very worst entry in the film.

…the REALLY good ones…

“H is for Hydro-Electric Diffusion” – the first truly fun film of The ABCs of Death.  Written and directed by Thomas Cappelen Malling, a nobody with one no-name film under his belt, I was very surprised at how enjoyably epic this piece was.  It is show in a CGI animation fashion, and the actors are played by…a cat and a dog!.  Set during the Nazi reign, a pilot/dogfighter (funny, man) visits a strip club for some de-stressing before heading back to the battlefield and quickly falls in love with the feline vixen dancing before him.  Little does he know, she is a undercover SS agent with a mission to kill him in gory fashion.  The remainder of this piece is absolutely incredible to watch as it brings forth awesome gore, Looney Tune style gimmicks, and an end result to leave you with a lasting smile.  Rating: 8/10

“R is for Removed” – one of the best and one of my favorite stories in this film. Written/directed by A Serbian Film director Srdjan Spasojevic, we follow a man forced to live in a hospital room with what appear to be third-degree burns over his entire body. Weirdly enough, the hospital staff are taking samples of his skin to run odd experiments on, and even more weird is the fact that he is often seen wearing cowboy/rodeo attire when not in his gown. The horror of the pain the man must be in is relentless, but things really kick into great when he leads an awesome assault to break free of the hospital that holds him captive. Rating: 8/10

“T is for Toilet” – a claymation story that I found incredibly fun. Told by Lee Hardcastle, the man behind TV show “Done in 60 Seconds. With Clay.”, where our favorite horror movies are turned into 60 second claymation pieces, this was an effective short centering on the fear a young boy faces while potty-training. It is his first time “going” by himself and his fear turns to delusion as the toilet transforms into a grotesque monster with a thirst for human flesh. This piece was heavy in the gore and included some awesome kill sequences, with the final kill being one of the most horrific in the series. Rating: 8/10

“V is for Vagitus” – the most downright action-packed story in the film. From comic book writer Kaare Andrews (Altitude), this story takes place in the future and takes off quickly, with government agents executing a warehouse of “mutant” people with mind-control abilities. When a female agent with fertility problems is faced with the task of executing a newborn baby, she flinches and the baby is killed by her robot partner – an officer without a heart. Little do they know, they are in over their heads and the innocent baby is the last thing they want alive…and far from dead. Rating: 8/10

…the GOOD ones…

“A for Apocalypse” – kicks off the short film onslaught, giving us a short and gruesome tale of a murderous wife dishing out her revenge before the looming end of the world. Timecrimes director Nacho Vigalondo writes and directs. Rating: 7/10

“D is for Dogfight” – an effective tale of a man who is forced by the assholes around him to battle a cute but ferocious dog in a battle to the death in a seedy underground fight club. Director Marcel Sarmiento (Deadgirl) pulls at the heart strings of dog lovers as we watch this grueling battle, shot in many slow motion sequences that exhibit both pain on the dog’s end as well as the fighter’s. It is obvious that he means no ill will towards the dog and is only fighting because he will be killed if he does not. To add to the emotion, Sarmiento adds a few strong twists and turns during the closing sequence, and the experience ends just the way I wanted it to. Rating: 7/10

“J is for Jidai-geki” – a samurai tale from the director of Meatball Machine and writer of Versus and Alive, Yudai Yamaguchi. The story is simple and focuses on a samurai tasked with completing the execution of a rival, but finding himself unable to do the deed. His fear causes him to see things that are not there, hilarious things at that, and when he does finally attempt the execution we are left with a gory mess fitting for a samurai tale. Rating; 7/10

“K is for Klutz” – an animated film from Danish director Anders Morgenthaler. At only a few minutes long, Anders has a short opportunity to catch the viewer and leave him/her laughing in their seat, and he does just that with this piece. We follow a pretty young girl at a party who goes to a restroom to slam down a turd, but has trouble completing the task when the turd refuses to be flushed down the toilet. Now this is not due to a faulty toilet system, but the turd actually fighting back and refusing to suffer the same demise as countless turds before him. This short is sweet and funny, and what it lacks in horror it makes up for with humor. Rating: 7/10

“L is for Libido” – definitely the most controversial short in the film. Timo Tjahjanto (“Safe Haven” – V/H/S 2) delivers this hard-hitting experience, one that will surely ruffle a few feathers from those not accustomed to how brutal Asian horror can be. We follow a man who must do the unthinkable if he wishes to survive a brutal torture chamber. His arms and legs are bound to a chair and the man next to him is in the same situation, and in order to survive to the next “round” he must masturbate to whatever object is in front of him. The first one to “finish” is the winner and must then move on to the next round consisting of a different object, a torturous task indeed, while the loser gets a sharp rod (located underneath the chair) impaled up his anus and through his mouth. Yup, you read that correctly. As if that was not controversial enough, what really sells this story as a “despicable” piece to some is the objects the man must masturbate to. They range from a sexy woman, to a paraplegic girl who uses her prosthetic leg to pleasure herself, to a young boy in minimal clothing laying on a bed. There are almost no boundaries for this story, and that is the main reason the horror reigns high in this piece. Rating: 7/10

“Q is for Quack” – a funny parody from up-and-coming horror director Adam Wingard (V/H/S, V/H/S 2, You’re Next, A Horrible Way To Die). Two filmmakers are tasked with making a film entry for The ABCs of Death on a measly $5,000 budget. They decide they want to stir things up by killing a live animal in their film, so they pack a few pistols, a duck, their equipment, and head for the desert to film a scene of them…shooting a duck…with pistols. This should be an easy task, but with neither of them having the guts to go through with the killing they wind up filming something even more controversial then they ever imagined. Rating: 7/10

“U is for Unearthed” – a POV film from Bill Wheatley, the man behind Kill List. This entry was short but effective, centering on a group of people carrying out the killing of a demonic person, with the POV being that of the demon and not the people – an interesting twist. The atmosphere is great thanks to it taking place in a creepy forest, and the POV filmmaking style was effective in giving us a full frontal seat to the execution. The story does not offer much more than what has already been said, making this a short but sweet experience. Rating: 7/10

“X is for XXL” – a sociological horror film. This entry comes from possibly the most accomplished director in the series, Xavier Gens (Frontiers, The Divide, Hitman) and his experience shows. The story follows a very overweight French girl who is constantly bombarded by mean and insensitive weight jokes from people she does not even know. Finally fed up with the way society views and treats her body, she decides to take a kitchen knife and perform her own full-body liposuction surgery, and with decent yet gory results. Rating: 7/10

….the ALRIGHT ones…

“B is for Bigfoot” – a creature flick with no visible creature. Developing Spanish director Adrian Garcia Bogliano (Penumbra, Here Comes the Devil) gives us this piece, which was not bad and came with good atmosphere, but nothing really happens and the ending is nothing special. Rating: 6/10

“I is for Ingrown” – a short but mostly effective story of a woman narrating her death, a very dialogue driven piece. From We Are What We Are director Jorge Michel Grau. Rating: 6/10

“M is for Miscarriage” – fanboy favorite Ti West (The Innkeepers, The House of the Devil, V/H/S) films a woman’s miscarriage. Rating: 6/10

“N is for Nupitals” – a funny piece from Banjong Pisanthanakun (Shutter, 4bia, Phobia 2) about a man’s new talking parrot who speaks his adulterous secrets to his wife, ending with a gory mess. Rating; 6/10

“O is for Orgasm” – a beautifully shot film of a woman receiving an orgasm via cunnilingus. There really isn’t much horror in this, aside from maybe the visuals she sees during her climax, and that is why it did not receive a higher rating.  Directed by Amer director Helen Cattet.  Rating: 6/10

“Z is for Zetsumetsu” – another WTF Japanese flick involving an Asian lady with a huge penis in a battle to the death with a sword-welding foe. Directed by Tokyo Gore Police and Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl director Yoshihiro Nishimura. Rating: 6/10

“S is for Speed” – a fun short following a woman in a race against death himself when she overdoses on speed. From Doghouse and Evil Aliens director Jake West. Rating: 6/10

…the LAME ones…

“C is for Cycle” – a boring and rarely eventful telling of a man who travels across dimensions by playing in the bushes, or something like that. Rating: 5/10

“E is for Exterminate” – the only story that let me down. This comes directed by famed horror actress Angela Bettis (May, The Woman) and while it was funny at times, following a pesky spider ruining the life of a lonely masturbating man, its execution was poor and left it a mediocre experience in the end. Rating: 5/10

“F is for Fart” – what many consider to be the worst story given it is just insane graphics and lots of farting and fart-sniffing. Asian horror, naturally. From Machine Girl director Noboru Iguchi. Rating: 5/10

“P is for Pressure” – a cheap and boring Asian story influenced by the viral sensation of an Asian lady killing a cat with her high heeled shoe. Directed by Simon Rumley (Red White & Blue, The Living and the Dead, Little Deaths). Rating: 5/10

“W is for WTF” – a very appropriately titled short. Seriously, WTF happened in this? Directed by Jon Schnepp, longtime Metalocalypse and Venture Bros. director. Rating: 5/10

“Y is for Youngbuck” – a flick where the gore is there but the story makes little sense. Directed by Hobo With A Shotgun director Jason Eisener. Rating: 5/10

“G is for Gravity” – a POV film of a surfer who loses his board in the ocean…and nothing really happens. From Andrew Traucki (Black Water, The Reef). Rating: 4/10

Overall, The ABCs of Death is an incredible undertaking that gives us something never before done in the horror genre.  While the overall experience is a mostly-positive experience but not a downright awesome one, there are many episodes in this film worth viewing that give us gore, creature action, and zany antics in a short but sweet packages.

Rating: 6/10

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