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ABC’s of Death, The (Blu-ray / DVD)

Cover art:

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The ABCs of Death (Blu-ray / DVD)Starring Various

Directed by Various

Distributed by Magnet Releasing


A is for “Actually, the idea for this alphabet-themed anthology was pretty ingenious.” 26 letters in the alphabet, 26 filmmakers providing short films linked to the letter they chose/were given (“A is for Apocalypse”, “B is for Bigfoot”, etc.). Nice concept, …

B is for “But, as with most anthologies, it’s a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to quality.” Alas, there are more misses here than hits, although there’s enough good stuff here to warrant a watch (so long as the Fast Forward button on your remote is handy).

C is for “Credit for this flick must go to Ant Timpson and Tim League for putting this project together.” Both Timpson (noted in the credits as having the nightmare which inspired the anthology) and Alamo Drafthouse founder Tim League have assembled an impressive (on paper) roster of indie horror filmmakers.

D is for “Disappointed in some of the contributing filmmakers here.” Particularly Ti West, a filmmaker I admire very much, who completely wastes his time and ours with “M is for Miscarriage”.

E is for “Excellent, which Magnet’s Blu-ray presentation most certainly is.” Though, it should be noted, the image and sound quality usually depend on the films themselves.

F is for “Forgettable are the handful of shorts that are neither great nor as offensively awful as some of the other installments.” These include the interesting but ultimately dull “A is for Apocalypse”, the faintly amusing “B is for Bigfoot”, the Lynchian misfire “C is for Cycle”, the cute but empty “E is for Exterminate”, and the well-made but pointless “L is for Libido”.

G is for “Great, which describes only a select few of the short films.” The fantastic live-action cartoon “H is for Hydro Electric Diffusion”, the quite funny “N is for Nuptials”, the well-made and disturbing “P is for Pressure”, the energetic and fun (with a dark twist) “S is for Speed”, and the sad and ultimately tragic “X is for XXL”.

H is for “Horrible – those shorts whose makers squandered their time and wasted the opportunity with poor storytelling or juvenile attempts at black humor.” These include the offensively stupid “F is for Fart”, the pointless and gimmicky “G is for Gravity”, the aforementioned “M is for Miscarriage”, “R is for Removal”, and the utterly batshit and quite awful “Z is for Zetsumetsu (Extinction)”. Boo to you all.

I is for “I might still give an ABCs follow-up a chance, provided the quality control is upped considerably.”

J is for “Jason” – Eisener, that is, the Hobo with a Shotgun director who provides ABCs with one of its stranger segments. I’m not sure entirely what to make of Eisener’s “Y is for Youngbuck” (past its being disgusting and disturbing), but it provides a solid glimpse at the director’s evolving style.

K is for “Kaare Andrews” – the comic book creator turned filmmaker who created the stunning sci-fi action epic-on-a-budget ‘V is for Vagitus (The Cry of a Newborn Baby)’. This guy needs a project with creative control and a blank check, now.

L is for “Loved the idea behind Kill List director Ben Wheatley’s ‘U is for Unearthed’, even if the execution was lacking.” Wheatley, who’s currently garnering praise with his new horror-comedy Sightseers, does a fine job with shooting this tale, even if it fails to satisfy viewers with its jarring conclusion.

M is for “Masterpiece.” At about a quarter of an hour into ABCs, it begins: pounding music, beautiful slow motion photography, and a disturbing setup which will go unspoiled here. Marcel Sarmiento’s gorgeously gritty short “D is for Dogfight” is jaw-droppingly good, and one I wouldn’t mind seeing incorporated into a larger narrative. Amazing, amazing work, and the best film on display here. Bravo.

N is for “Never again watching a film directed by Noboru Iguchi, Yoshihiro Nishimura, or Jon Schnepp.” Okay, never say never. There’s a chance that all of these guys can make a great flick (or perhaps they already have). Still, these shorts do their cred no favors.

O is for “Organization”. I’ll hand it to the gentlemen who put this film together, it was a great move to have every segment begin and end on a blood-red frame (allowing each and every short to flow seamlessly into the next). Well done, guys.

P is for “Packed full of bonus features.” Magnet’s special features on the film’s Blu-ray are outstanding. Seriously – there are over thirty people participating in the feature commentary, along with loads of goodies for most of the short films (including behind the scenes footage, deleted scenes, etc.). Just check out the list of extras at the bottom of this review.

Q is for “’Q is for Quack’ is a funny, meta-riff on the anthology’s concept by You’re Next director and Twitter porn purveyor Adam Wingard.” It’s hardly horror, though it does concern death. All the same, it’s more of a comedy than anything. Great fun.

R is for “Really running this review concept into the ground, hope people are still reading.”

S is for “Scatological.” “F is for Fart”, “T is for Toilet”, the poo-themed “K is for Klutz”… sigh. A plea from this reviewer to the producers: In ABC‘s follow-up, please insist on no more potty-centric stories. Thanks so much.

T is for “Terrify – which none of the shorts here manage to do.” If you’re looking for horror, you’ve come to the wrong place. While the imagery can be intense and the drama dark, none of the films here ever manage to be truly scary.

U is for “Ultimately, in spite of the handful of impressive shorts, this reviewer cannot wholeheartedly recommend anyone to pick up this disc.” Sad but true, folks. It likely won’t be worth it to most to add this title to their collection. All the same, it’s certainly a rental – just to check out the best of the films.

V is for “Variety.” Though the quality is uneven throughout, it’s amazing how varied the approaches were to this concept. The films here pretty much run the gamut of subgenres, which is one of the better aspects of this anthology.

W is for “WTF is up with ‘W is for WTF’?!” There was probably a very good idea at the center of this short from Jon Schnepp (one not unlike Wingard’s “Q is for Quack”). Unfortunately, it’s lost in a morass of inanity.

X is for “X-rated.” Some of these features can get more than a little saucy at times (including “O is for Orgasm”, the gorgeous and naughty giallo from Amer directors Bruno Forzani and Hélène Cattet).

Y is for “You’ve been warned about this film’s uneven quality.” You’ve only yourself to blame if you buy a copy without test driving it first.

Z is for “Zombie non grata” Near as this reviewer could tell, not one zombie made an appearance in this anthology. At least not in any significant manner. No fast zombies, no slow zombies, no Rob Zombies (all right, maybe a zombie clown posse can be briefly glimpsed, unless I’m mistaken). Remarkable that not a single short focused heavily on this legendary subgenre, which is such the rage these days.

There. Now I know my ABCs, next time won’t you…er, watch a better film with me?

Special Features

  • Filmmaker Commentary
  • Featurettes
    “A is for Apocalypse”: Oil Burns Visual Effects
    “B is for Bigfoot”: Making of
    “C is for Cycle”: Deleted Scenes
    “D is for Dogfight”: Making of
    “F is for Fart”: Behind the Scenes
    “H is for Hydro-Electric Diffusion”: Behind the Scenes, The Making of Bertie the Bulldog and Frau Scheisse
    “I is for Ingrown”: Making of
    “J is for Jidai-Geki”: Behind the Scenes
    “P is for Pressure”: Interviews with Director Simon Rumley and Producer/Director of Photography Milton Cam
    “R is for Removal”: Behind the Scenes Photo Gallery
    “T is for Toilet”: Behind the Scenes
    “V is for Vagitus”: Deleted Scene with Director Commentary, Behind the Scenes, Animatics
    “W is for WTF”: Behind the Scenes, Bonus Flubs, Star Beast outtakes
    “Z is for Zetsumetsu”: Behind the Scenes

  • AXS TV: A look at The ABCs of Death
  • Trailer Gallery
  • BD-Live Feature Exclusive to Blu-ray – Additional Short Film Contest Submissions

    Film:

    2 out of 5

    Special Features:

    4 1/2 out of 5

    Discuss The ABCs of Death in our comments section below!

  • Jinx

    • vorodex999

      Wait you did not think L is for Libido was horrorible? Nearly all of the shorts sucked. D is for Dogfight was the best thing this entire Anthology had going for it.

    • aliensharkboy

      I think I’ll pass on this movie. Must say, Jinx’s reviews can be very unique – loving ‘em!

    • Terminal

      Three and a half knives for me. It was a bold and entertaining experiment. I had a good time with it.