9 August 2013 | brando647
A (Mostly) Fun Experiment in Short Horror Films
This movie is freakin' insane. THE ABCS OF DEATH is the perfect movie to sit around with your buddies and watch over a few six-packs. It's equal parts hilarious and disturbing, but primarily this movie is an endurance test. Twenty-six short films is a lot to sit through, even when they're universally excellent. The shorts in this ambitious horror anthology range from garbage to golden. But before I even address the films in this collection, I think you have to respect the premise of the film regardless of the quality of its individual parts. THE ABCS OF DEATH gave $5000 each to twenty-six aspiring horror directors and assigned each of them a letter of the alphabet. With their assigned letter, each filmmaker was to shoot a segment based on a word starting with that letter and, of course, relevant to death in some form. Some of the shorts are actually incredibly well done, while some of them seem as if the directors shot whatever they could do in an afternoon and pocketed the majority of their $5000 budget. But, as with any sort of anthology collection, the quality of the shorts are going to run the gamut from one end of the spectrum to the other. There's no good way to address each individual short in a comment like this so I'm just going to shower some praise on a few of the best and warn you about some of the worst of the bunch. Just remember: opinions vary and some might disagree. These are my personal thoughts on the best and worst.
There are some really awesome short films included in this collection. Some of them will blow your mind when you realize it was all done on a meager $5000 budget. The segment "V is for Vagitus" was written and directed by Kaare Andrews and creates a fleshed-out futuristic Vancouver in the course of a few minutes. The production design and effects are fantastic, especially a robot cop named Nezbit. The V segment contains enough ingrained plot that you almost wish it would be expanded into a full-length film. Then there is the hand-full of segments that are just awesome little doses of creative filmmaking. "D is for Dogfight" and "Y is for Youngbuck" (from HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN director Jason Eisener) are some of the best in the series based on creative film-making alone, and "S is for Speed" is a cool little grindhouse short that doesn't seem like much at first but redeems itself in it's final moments when you realize what director Jake West was doing with it. Some directors use their spot in the movie to make a personal statement (such as Jorge Michel Grau or Xavier Glens) while others are just flat-out crazy for the sake of crazy. Admittedly, the craziest ones are my personal favorites and most of them are out of Japan. The letters F, H, J, T, and especially Z are some of the most mind-bogglingly weird portions of the film but they make for the some of the funniest bits (again, especially Z).
On the other end of the spectrum, some of the shorts in the collection just didn't work for me. Thankfully, there are far fewer shorts that fail than succeed. The segment for the letter M (for Miscarriage) seems to be receiving a lot of flack, and it deserves it. It's short, lazy, and aims for a quick shock gag. It's not horrifying, it's just poor taste. I suppose it is a form of death, but the most frightening aspect of the short is the woman's reaction to it. The segment "Q is for Quack" is another lazy film. The majority of the short is director Adam Wingard and producer Simon Barrett complaining about receiving the letter Q for their assignment and it's not quite as funny as I'm sure they were hoping it would be. "C is for Cycle" is an interesting premise but it looks like it was shot on home video and the constant use of fade-outs to change scenes was aggravating, and "O is for Orgasm", while the most artistic of the bunch, feels horribly out of place and grinds the movie to a halt right smack dab in the middle of an already long run-time. On the bright side, all of the weaker shorts in the film occur within the first half and I feel safe in proclaiming that entire last half of the movie is totally worth it.
Some segments might make you cringe ("L is for Libido") and some might make you laugh ("F is for Fart"), but as a whole THE ABCS OF DEATH is an interesting movie. I imagine there's got to be something here that will appeal to most everyone. It can be an incredibly difficult task to sit through the entirety of this movie in one showing, but it's a fun one to throw on with a bunch of friends to laugh and gag at. If nothing else, people with a bizarre sense of humor who preferably grew up on Tex Avery cartoons need to watch "H is for Hydro-electric Diffusion". It's an absolute nightmare (made especially creepy by the makeup effects) but it's so bizarre that you can't not watch.