THE ABC’S OF DEATH-United States/New Zealand-2012
Directed by Nacho Vigalondo (“A is for Apocalypse”), Adrián García Bogliano (“B is for Bigfoot“), Ernesto Diaz Espinoza (“C is for Cycle”), Marcel Sarmiento (“D is for Dogfight”), Angela Bettis (“E is for Exterminate”), Noboro Iguchi (“F is for Fart”), Andrew Traucki (“G is for Gravity”), Thomas Cappelen Malling (“H is for Hydro-Electric Diffusion”), Jorge Michael Grau (“I is for Ingrown”), Yidai Yamaguchi (“J is for Jidai-geki“), Anders Morgenthaler (“K is for Klutz”), Timo Tjahjanto (“L is for Libido”), Ti West (“M is for Miscarriage”), Banjong Pisanthanakun (“N is for Nuptials”), Bruno Forzani and Hélène Cattet (“O is for Orgasm”), Simon Rumley (“P is for Pressure”), Adam Wingard (“Q is for Quack”), Srdjan Spasojevic (“R is for Removed”), Jake West (“S is for Speed”), Lee Hardcastle (“T is for Toilet”), Ben Wheatley (“U is for Unearthed”), Kaare Andrews (“V is for Vagitus”), Jon Schnepp (“W is for WTF?”), Xavier Gens (“X is for XXL”), Jason Eisener (“Y is for Youngbuck”), Yoshihiro Nishimura (“Z is for Zetsumetsu”)
Written by Adrian Garcia Bogliano (“B is for Bigfoot”), Noboru Iguchi (“F is for Fart”), Yudai Yamaguchi (“J is for Jidai-geki”), Lee Hardcastle (“T is for Toilet”), Kaare Andrews (“V is for Vagitus”), Jon Schnepp (“W is for WTF?”), Yoshihiro Nishimura (“Z is for Zetsumetsu”), Simon Barrett, Hélène Cattet, Bruno Forzani, Simon Rumley, Srdjan Spasojevic, Nacho Vigalondo, Dimitrije Vojnov, Ti West
Does anyone remember The Gashlycrumb Tinies by Edward Gorey? It was an Alphabet book in which Gorey would begin with a child’s name (A is for Alice), said child’s demise (who fell down the stairs) in a way that rhymes with the demise of the next child (B is for Basil assaulted by bears). Get the picture? If you do then you get the premise, so to speak, of The ABC’s of Death; an anthology film with 26 segments directed by 26 directors and written by 15 writers. For me, anthology films have always been a bit of a pain in the ass to review. Do I review the film as a whole; or by each individual story? How much wordage do I allot to each story? A film such as Twilight Zone the Movie with its 4 stories is reason for me to climb walls and mumble; 26 stories should be just enough to make me gouge out my eyes and become a chronic masturbator. In order to avoid that I figure what I will do is dedicate a small portion of wordage to each segment and give the film as a whole the blood drop rating that has been my method ever since I began writing reviews. Does any of that make sense? For all that is good and fair in this world I certainly hope so.
“A is for Apocalypse”
A man is lying in bed when a woman, presumably his wife, enters the room and brutally stabs him with a butcher knife, throws hot cooking grease in his face and bludgeons him with a cast iron skillet while he gazes at her not with a look of ‘why are you doing this?’; but instead his look inquires more as to ‘what the hell are you doing?’ She tells him that she has been poisoning him for a year and it wasn’t supposed to end like this. Outside we hear the sounds of tires squealing, cars crashing and it all fades to red. Yawn.
“B is for Bigfoot”
I’m sure a lot of guys have had this problem at one point or another; you’re trying to score with your girl only to be headed off at the pass by her kid. So, what do you do? You put the kid to bed and tell her to go to sleep or else a monster is going to get her. Which monster? Maybe it’s the Abominable Snowman, or maybe it’s Bigfoot. It may even be the Snowman from Mexico. After all, it’s all make-believe; you just want the little brat to go to bed, right? This one is even worse than “A is for Apocalypse”.
“C is for Cycle”
Your wife hears a noise and sends you to investigate. You do, finding nothing. You come back to bed only to find another man sleeping next to your wife. That man is you; your wife hears a noise and sends you to investigate. It’s slightly confusing, but still better than the first two segments. The actor portraying the husband does a passable Anton Chigurh impression.
“D is for Dog”
This is a definite commentary on the brutality of UFC and MMA fighting. If men are in cages like dogs then have them fight like dogs and fight dogs. Nice little twist at the end. Not sure about the kid in the diaper.
“E is for Exterminate”
Looks like Angela Bettis has been taking lessons from Lucky McKee (Sick Girl). She’s learned well; I broke out the bug spray by the time this one was over. I also loved how she managed to incorporate an old urban legend into the mix.
“F is for Fart”
My wife says that I’m weird. She has not seen weird until she has seen “F is for Fart.” There really are people out there who have a flatulence fetish. Don’t ask me how I know this; I know a lot of things.
“G is for Gravity”
Was there a point to this one? I thought I was watching a Laird Hamilton bio-pic for a bit there. This one was dumb. Move along folks, nothing to see here.
“H is for Hydro-Electric Diffusion”
Nazis and furries; who’d-a thunk it? This one was definitely the funniest so far. My wife was asking me about the ‘furry’ lifestyle the other day. I told her it was a slang term for people who attend an excessive amount of dog and cat shows.
“I is for Ingrown”
This one might have been more interesting if we had known, as the late Paul Harvey was fond of saying, ‘the rest of the story.’ It’s only disturbing like this. By the way, for the rest of story watch the credits for this segment at the end of the movie.
“J is for Jidai-geki”
According to the all-seeing know-it-alls at Wikipedia, Jidaigeki is a genre of Japanese film, TV and theater; they are period dramas usually set in the Edo period of Japanese history from 1603-1868. A samurai movie, if you will. This is a brief, twisted tribute to that genre and it’s not bad.
“K is for Klutz”
You ever have that one turd that will just not flush no matter what you do? I think this segment may be about that particular problem. It may be about something even heavier. I recommend taking lots of illegal substances while watching.
“L is for Libido”
WTF? This one is just wrong on every conceivable level. It is neither horror nor entertaining. I hated it.
“M is for Miscarriage”
I knew this was a Ti West (The House of the Devil, The Innkeepers) segment as soon as I saw the grainy 1980’s VHS quality film technique. The title is exactly what it means. West’s was one of two directors whose segments I was most interested in seeing. The other was Angela Bettis. I think Bettis has the edge here.
“N is for Nuptials”
The most hilarious segment so far as well as a cautionary tale; if you have a bird that can talk then be very careful what you let it hear. I know this from experience with a Quaker parrot I owned that picked up the F-word from my (sometimes) potty mouth.
“O is for Orgasm”
I read somewhere that an orgasm is like experiencing a little bit of death. At least that’s how I remember it. I had no idea it was also like blowing bubbles out of your mouth, burning Barbie dolls with cigarettes and being tied down with leather. Have I been missing something?
“P is for Pressure”
A good mother will do anything she can to make her child happy. The key word in that sentence is ‘anything’. This one takes a hard left at the end.
“Q is for Quack”
“How do we make our ABC’s of Death segment stand out?” asks director Adam Wingard (V/H/S, A Horrible Way to Die) to writer Simon Barrett. Easy, break down the 4th wall, feature a mix of gunplay and social commentary and throw in a really cute duck for good measure. Quack, quack.
“R is for Removed”
I think this one is homage to Russian cinema. I may be wrong; and if I am I am sure people will let me know. I have no opinion of it one way or the other.
“S is for Speed”
A druggie segment that pays homage to Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! Robert Rodriguez and “An Appointment in Samarra.” I loved this one as much as I hated “L is for Libido”.
“T is for Toilet”
This one is funny despite the fact that I despise Claymation. It’s not as funny as “N is for Nuptials”; but it’s still funny.
“U is for Unearthed”
I was beginning to wonder when we would see a traditional monster tale. Thank you, Ben Wheatley (Kill List, A Field in England) for this nifty little vampire tale.
“V is for Vagitus”
Vagitus is a newborn child’s first cry. On rare occasions it’s happened even before the child leaves the womb. Here I thought this one was going to be a “Don’t fuck with Canada” propaganda segment and instead I learned something new.
“W is for WTF?”
A comment on a phrase we use with alarming regularity nearly every day. The only way to comment on such a phrase is to feature a segment that makes us say exactly that: “What the f*ck?”
“X is for XXL”
There’s a song by Lou Reed called “Harry’s Circumcision”. It’s about a man who mutilates his face because he fears that he is turning into the image of his parents. Director Xavier Gens (Frontier(s), The Divide) directs this segment on the basis of the term ‘image is everything.’ It’s a bloody good one.
“Y is for Youngbuck”
There’s not one word of dialogue in this Jason Eisener (Hobo with a Shotgun) tale about a deer-slaying pedophile. There’s no need for dialogue; it’s disturbing enough without it.
“Z is for Zetsumetsu”
Leave it to the Japanese to make a commentary on war using food porn, Nazi blonde bitches with giant penises, and a vegetable-shooting vagina. Holy crap.
The ABC’s of Death is an uneven mess of a film with a few gems thrown in to the mix. I can’t recommend it to anyone and still keep a good conscience. See it at your own risk.
The child featured on the movie poster is the son of director Kaare Andrews. He is also featured in Andrews’ segment in the film.
The characters name ‘Frau Scheisse’ means literally translated ‘Mrs. Shit” in German.