The ABCs of Death (2012)
Review by Jude Felton
Of all the recent horror anthologies, The ABCs of Death would appear to be the most adventurous, if not downright audacious, to appear on our screens. Usually you get anywhere between 3 and 6 ‘segments’ making up the anthology, but here you get 26. That’s right, there’s one short film for each letter of the alphabet. Now, while this is certainly incredibly ambitious, not to mention ass-numbing, it also asks the question as to whether the consistency can be maintained throughout.
Well, the short answer to this is no, there are definitely weaker chapters throughout The ABCs of Death. With that being said though, there are also quite excellent chapters; yes I am looking at you D for Dogfight. Now, to go through each and every letter, and film, would take far too long and you would no doubt lose interest. Suffice to say that I am not going to do that, as I’d much rather review it as a whole, and make mention to just a few individual episodes that stuck out for me.
The ABCs of Death does start off with a bang, with A for Apocalypse being quite excellent. It’s violent, very violent, yet also sadly very tragic in its finality. It’s a bloody good start to proceedings and I was very impressed with it. The aforementioned D for Dogfight was also incredibly good, with some amazing camerawork and a real sense of ‘how the fuck did they achieve this’ feel to it.
Over the course of the 2 hour plus running time we get treated to all manner of styles of film, from animation, to Claymation, PoV style films, weird costumes and lots and lots of violence. It has to be said that some of the films here do push the boundaries of taste, such as the case with L is for Libido, which was also one of my favorites. That is also another reason I believe that this film does actually work so well. Even with the less successful segments, there is still an element of danger, of pushing original horror in our face. The genre has become stagnant, in many areas, yet over the course of these 26 films it just goes to show that there are great ideas out there.
The Japanese are known for their outlandish or just plain messed up, approach to horror, and F is for Fart is one such example. Again, it works, for me, as I am a fan of their crazy sensibilities and Noburo Iguchi is honestly on another planet!
So, over 26 films you are going to get a real mixed bag of tricks. Not everyone is going to enjoy the same segment, of that I am sure, but I am certain that there is something for everyone here. Whether or not you have the patience to sit through the entire film is another matter, but for me I consider the film to be far more of a success than a failure. The team behind it, such as Drafthouse Films and Twitch’s Todd Brown, have gathered a ton of well known, and not so well known, directors together and given them free rein to deliver some truly wild ideas. Some are scary, some are funny, almost all of them are bloody and some are just plain tough to watch (in a good way). Of course, there will be those out there that expect every single short film here to be absolutely the best thing since sliced bread, and of course that isn’t the case. I’ll take the rough with the smooth and give this a thumbs up, so to speak, because when it does hit the mark, it hits good and hard.
The DVD version, which I watched, also comes with a ton of special features, such as audio commentaries and behind the scenes featurettes, and will keep you busy for a good while.
Overall, The ABCs of Death impressed me more than recent anthologies such as The Theater Bizarre and V/H/S, and all have their good and bad moments, and is definitely something I will be watching again. We still have The Profane Exhibit to look forward to, which I believe will really push the envelope, but the ABCs is still well worth a viewing.
The ABCs of Death is available now on Blu-ray and DVD from Magnet.