Usually when I get my hands on a new horror anthology I’m excited and eager to see it. But of late the horror anthology has taken a turn for the worse. Yes, I’m referring to the boring and extremely overrated V/H/S (my review). That film was enough to get me off of horror anthologies forever. But THE ABCs OF DEATH is an anthology that’s a little different than most. Instead of trying to create a wrap-around story to unify the stories in the anthology, THE ABCs OF DEATH uses the alphabet. Twenty-six directors each took a letter of the alphabet and created a short horror film focused on death. Statistically with 26 short films we’re bound to get some good ones in the mix, right? Please tell me I’m right!! I’m desperate here for a good horror anthology … does THE ABCs OF DEATH fill that void?
The short answer is yes. When it’s all said and done, THE ABCs OF DEATH offers enough strong entries that watching the full two hours is worth your time. Besides, if there’s anything that really bores you (and there’s a few of them in here), they’re so short that they’re over before they begin. But ya know what, I’m gonna do something different here and focus on the positives in this review. The one thing I’d like to point out is something that I’m not sure is a fault of the film itself or the service I was watching it on (I rented this one through vudu.com). The film was very glitchy and would often freeze up for a second or two. Like I said, this may have been an issue with vudu.com or it could be a flaw on the DVD. I’m not sure.
The first three shorts (A through C) were pretty forgettable. But when we get to D, not only do we get a fantastic short film, we also get what is perhaps the best short in the entire anthology. “D is for Dogfight” is a beautifully shot film that was shot entirely in super slow motion. “D is for Dogfight” was directed by Marcel Sarmiento, half the team behind the dreadful DEADGIRL (my review). But Sarmiento redeems himself beautifully here and really crafts an exceptional story. The story is about a man and a dog in a fight-to-the-death underground fighting ring where people bet on either the human or the canine. As mentioned, “D is for Dogfight” is shot in super slo-mo and there’s no dialogue; yet there’s a ton of emotion and sentiment being conveyed. This is a really fantastic story; perhaps the best among the 26 stories.
The next short that really stood out for me was Timo Tjahjanto’s “L is for Libido.” Tjahjanto co-directed 2009’s MACABRE and will be in the upcoming follow up to V/H/S, titled V/H/S/2. “L is for Libido” is a very dark, twisted, and disturbing short that’ll stick with you long after it’s over. Two guys are tied to a chair naked and have very limited use of their hands. A cute naked girl is brought in front of them and the first one to successfully jerk off and cum, “wins.” The loser is killed in a most disturbing way and the winner moves onto the next round. But with each new round, the “models” represent more and more depraved sexuality. There’s a semi-deformed girl in a wheelchair using a dildo on herself and then there’s a … well you’re just going to have to see this one to believe it. But with each round the man must keep beating his opponent (and apparently his own schwantz) and cum first. If he doesn’t, he knows there’s a grim and very painful death awaiting him. This one is really twisted, disturbing, and has close to no dialogue in it, but WOW it packs a real punch. You’ll leave this one feeling dirty and slimy. In fact, I don’t think I’ve felt this dirty since I watched A SERBIAN FILM (my review). I really liked this one for having so much of an impact in such a small amount of time.
Luckily just a few stories away, “N is for Nuptials” provides some much needed comic relief after the L story!! “N is for Nuptials” is directed by Banjong Pisanthanakun, co-director of 2004’s SHUTTER (which was remade in 2008 for the American market). This is a real quick and fun short that starts out very romantic (a guy asking his girlfriend to marry him) and turns deadly after a bird can’t keep it’s mouth shut!! This one had me laughing out loud. It’s a lot of fun.
Other fun stories include Srdjan (A SERBIAN FILM) Spasojevic’s gory, “R Is for Removed;” Jake West’s story of a woman running away from Death, “S is for Speed;” Lee Hardcastle’s “T is for Toilet,” where every kid’s nightmare about potty training comes true; Kaare Andrews’ fast-paced and gory futuristic story, “V is for Vagitus;” and Jason Eisener’s “Y is for Youngbuck,” which has a young boy getting revenge on his molester. But besides the above-mentioned, “D is for Dogfight,” the other show stopper here is definitely Xavier Gens’ “X is for XXL,” which is about a fat girl who makes the decision to make herself skinny and alter her body image one piece of flesh at a time. “X is for XXL” actually gets hard to watch at times and has the gore to back it up!! It’s s great story with great execution.
And for all you lovers of Asian horror films, fear not!! Asian directors are well represented here. Noboru (ZOMBIE ASS: TOILET OF THE DEAD; my review) Iguchi continues to explore his ass fetish with, “F is for Fart,” an extremely bizarre story that really didn’t make much sense; Yudai (VERSUS, MEATBALL MACHINE) Yamaguchi presents his “”J is for Jidai-geki”, the most serene and unfortunately the most boring of the lot; and then there’s Yoshihiro (MUTANT GIRLS SQUAD, HELLDRIVER) Nishimura with his acid-trip of a segment, “Z is for Zetsumetsu.” In this one, there’s massive radiation leaks in Japan mutating almost the entire population and creating a neo-Nazi state in Japan. Images such as a blond Japanese girl with a huge cock using her tool as a sword and another girl with big titties who has the World Trade Center tattooed on one tit and an airplane tattooed on the other, and when she shakes her titties it looks like the airplane crashes into the buildings … such images will stay with you for a long time even though the story really doesn’t make much sense. That was the problem I had with the Asian entries: They were all too goddamn weird for their own sakes.
In the end though, TEH ABCs OF DEATH is a lot of fun that has a few really strong show-stoppers that make the entire anthology worth your time. Sure there’s a few real dog turds here, but the good outweigh the bad and in my book that’s a positive. Check this one out.
Director: 26 directors (too many to list individually)
Plot: 3 out of 5 stars for the overall anthology, but there’s definitely some 5 out of 5 segments
Gore: 6 out of 10 skulls overall, but there’s a few 8 & 0 out of 10 skull segments
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Scott Shoyer