Movie Review: The ABCs of Death

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While I was sure there would be lots of stinkers amidst the interesting concept of The ABCs of Death, I had to give it a look because I’ll give any ambitious horror project the benefit of the doubt.  To sum up what the project is in a nutshell, I’ll simply just retype the opening text disclaimer when the film starts:

The following feature film was created by 26 directors from around the world.  Each director was given a letter of the alphabet and asked to choose a word.  They then created a short tale of death that related to their chosen word.  They had complete artistic freedom regarding the content of their segments.

So that’s a pretty great idea, and I’d love to check that out.  At the very least, probably a small handful of the films will justify the viewing of the whole, kind of like V/H/S.  So I’ll just rate all 26 films on their own merits, and then use the scariest element of all, BASIC MATH, to come up with an overall score for this project.  And let the 2+ hour short film marathon begin!

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A:  At first seemed like a needlessly gory, terrible little film; about a woman murdering a patient in a hospital bed.  It redeems itself with reveal of the “A” word.  I see how this anthology is going to be now, with the revealing of the words as the punchline.  Still, logically, I don’t understand why she did what she did the way she did it.  6.5 out of 10

B:  Bad premise, with terrible execution.  Yikes.  1.5 out of 10

C:  Hey, I made a student film with the same basic editing technique!  I even saw some similar shots I used!  But I guess this guy had a more interesting space/time continuum thing than I did.  But like my project, his also didn’t logically make sense in the long run.  Cycle logic is hard to execute…  😦    4 out of 10

D:  I just watched a man box a dog.  It was actually pretty nonsensically comical.  And it had some nice slow motion cinematography and a funny ending.  7.5 out of 10

E:  Spiders do lay eggs in people’s ears.  That’s a fact.  Have fun sleeping tonight.  But, uh, a really stupid short with a few pity laughs.  3 out of 10

F:  A wonderful little film about a Japanese schoolgirl finding love and learning about god through the magic of farts (I’m serious).  9 out of 10

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G:  What?  3 out of 10

H:  OK, if all 26 of these films were as insane as this one and the Japanese farting one, this whole anthology would have been incredible.  To sum ” H” up, it’s essentially about a woman in a Nazi fox costume trying to kill a man in a bulldog pilot costume in a WWII burlesque house with weapons worthy of a Roadrunner cartoon.  When they gave the assignment out to all these directors, and they were supposed to choose a word and make something interesting; THIS GUY actually did the assignment correctly.  8.5 out of 10

I:  Aaaaaaaaand now we’re back to some overly serious serial killer BS.  Kind of depraved, and didn’t have much of a story to tell.  Nothing much redeemable here.  2 out of 10

J:  OK, I’m not entirely sure what the deal was with this one.  At least it was probably the wackiest film you could possibly make about seppuku.  Kudos?  4.5 out of 10

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K:  A cartoon about that one little floating poop that you can never seem to flush down the toilet.  It was…  surprisingly adorable…?  Low brow comedy excellence, right here.  8.5 out of 10

L:  I feel almost embarrassed for humanity that this film was created.  What vile subject matter.  Dude, really?  The guy who made this should be put on some kind of FBI watch list or something.  HE’S GOT SOME SICK THOUGHTS.  1 out of 10

M:  Another film centered around a toilet, not that I’m complaining.  But uh…  where’s the jokes?  2.5 out of 10

N:  A moderately funny comedy short, not really much horror to it.  But it worked.  Though, the joke of a talking parrot saying “too much” has been done before.  It was the only short in this anthology I’d ever be comfortable showing to my mom.  6.5 out of 10

O:  Three minutes of weird, experimentally shot fetish stuff.  I guess I’ll give them credit for doing something visually interesting.  5.5 out of 10

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P:  I got a little bored with this one, as it took forever to get where it was going.  Then when it got there, it made me feel uncomfortable.  At least this director tried something different, with a double entendre “P” word reveal at the end.  I STILL DIDN’T LIKE IT.  4.5 out of 10

Q:  This is the meta segment of the film, about the director’s struggles to come up with a “Q” word to film about.  It’s actually pretty funny.  Another great example of taking the assignment given, and actually doing something with it.  It would be stupid to watch this short outside of The ABCs of Death, but as a part of this whole concept, it works perfectly.  A nice change of pace.  8 out of 10

R:  And now we’re back to someone who took the assignment and interpreted it as “DO AS MUCH GROSS GORE MAKE UP AS POSSIBLE, THAT’S WHAT WE’RE SUPPOSED TO DO”.  3.5 out of 10

S:  Eh, it was alright I guess.  6 out of 10

T:  Finally a short about toilets!  Oh, wait…  This one was actually a really good claymation short about a *mutant* toilet.  I was laughing kind of hysterically at the ridiculous nature of this Australian treasure.  It has some great one liners, and some brilliant use of the claymation.  If this one ever gets on the internet, I’m going to share it with everyone I know.  [EDIT:  IT IS!]   9 out of 10

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U:  Entertaining film about the hunting down of a monster, from the POV perspective of the monster.  Though, it was nothing that special really, I guess.  At least it was short.  6 out of 10

V:  GIANT ROBOT GUNFIGHT IN A WAREHOUSE ALERT.  But much like a lot of big shot Hollywood ideas, it was a grand flashy futuristic spectacle that was completely hollow inside.  The thing I hate about this short is that the director is clearly able to execute the extremely flashy style, but there are like NO ideas in this film whatsoever.  Mindless sci-fi violence without premise, hidden behind the only person to use computer VFX in the entire anthology, so it stands out without deserving to stand out.  LOUD NOISES LOUD NOISES LOUD NOISES LOUD NOISES  4 out of 10

W:  This was made by the creators of Metalocalypse, and it’s the second most meta film in this series, as it’s about them trying to choose the right “W” word.  It was really bad. I think they assumed that the Adult Swim mentality of nonsensical stoner humor with random things flying at the screen like clown zombies and lasers and odd layered audio and inverted colors would pass outside that environment.  But it just came across as lame, “trying-too-hard” BS to me.  Like most things on Adult Swim.  3 out of 10

X:  Well, that was god damn depressing…  I think someone watched Requiem for a Dream one too many times…  4.5 out of 10

Y:  The soundtrack and the color choices were AWESOME.  But…  Ewww.  Another one for the FBI watch list.  Or maybe the director just needs some counseling for something that happened in his past?  (tugs collar nervously)  3 out of 10

Z:  A weird one from Japan.  But also a stupid one.  And an awful ending to the anthology.  It felt like bad community theater.  I kind of hate the guy who made this short, and I can’t tell if he was trying to be funny or what?  But it was nonsensical in the worst possible use of the term.  It made even less sense than the “W” one.  I THINK it was anti-american as well, but ehhh, whatever, I guess I don’t really care.  Pointless shock value, done with the absolute bare minimum amount of subtlety.  1 out of 10

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An Overall Analysis of the Anthology:  As a whole, The ABCs of Death went by pretty quickly for me, considering how much I had to watch.  I suppose they got lucky that the good ones were spread out, as the selection of what was good or bad and where they ended up was pretty random, simply based on who drew what letter.  If all the good stuff was clumped in one spot, the rest of the anthology would have been unwatchable.  It did make for some weird tonal shifts throughout the entire thing, though.  Like having an incredibly serious torture segment getting jammed between a cartoonish furry video with a Nazi fox woman and an actual cartoon about a piece of poop refusing to be flushed…

But like I assumed, out of 26 segments, only 5 of them were something I would consider great.  There was a bunch of middle ground as well, but also a lot of things I wished I never watched, and never want to ever see again.  I suppose the last thing I want to say about this anthology is that it’s both equally awesome and sad that most of the best segments from The ABCs of Death involved farts and/or toilets.

126 out of 260

or roughly

5 out of 10

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