Monday, June 24, 2013

30 Days of Nightmares #24: THE ABCS OF DEATH (2012)

The Story: Ant Timpson, programmer of the New Zealand International Film Festival, and Tim League, founder of the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, put together this anthology of 26 different horror shorts -- each one reputedly made on a budget of $5,000.  As with the MASTERS OF HORROR anthology, the filmmakers were given complete creative freedom.  

Expectations: Variety.  This film serves as a who's who of cutting-edge horror, and includes shorts by Marcel Sarmiento (DEADGIRL), Angela Bettis (MAY), Andrew Trauki (THE REEF), Ti West (THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL), Banjong Pisanthanakun (SHUTTER), Bruno Forzani and Héléne Cattet (AMER), Simon Rumley (RED WHITE AND BLUE), Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett (A HORRIBLE WAY TO DIE), Srdjan Spasojevic (A SERBIAN FILM), Ben Wheatley (KILL LIST), Xavier Gens (FRONTIER(S)), and Jason Eisener (HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN).  It's much easier to sit through this film if you know who at least some of these filmmakers are, and you're curious to see what they'll do with this opportunity.  If not, THE ABCS OF DEATH will be an endurance exercise.

Reaction: This is a Halloween candy grab-bag.  The stories range from surprisingly clever to annoyingly absurd.  There was way too much toilet humor for my taste (at times, I felt like I was watching the DUMB AND DUMBER of horror anthologies), but I have to admit that I was rarely bored.   The film displays a lot of talent, and plenty of wild visions for the future of horror... I only wish that some of the shorts were actually scary. The only filmmaker who really succeeded in making me shudder was Xavier Gens ("X for XXL")... but that might have been partly because the music in that short reminded me of REQUIEM FOR A DREAM.

High points for me were Sarmiento's hypnotic (if illogical) "D is for Dogfight," Yudai Yamaguchi's hilariously goofy "J is for Judai-geki," Pisanthanakun's darkly comic "N is for Nuptials,"  Gens' gruesome "X is for XXL," and Eisener's ultra-stylish "Y is for Youngbuck." 

Low points were Noboru Iguchi's ludicrous "F is for Fart," Andrew Traucki's effortless "G is for Gravity," Ti West's insulting "M is for Miscarriage" (really, Ti, really??), and Yoshihiro Nishimura maddeningly incoherent "Z is for Zetsumetsu."

The varied quality of the shorts makes for a somewhat frustrating viewing experience, but die-hard horror fans will have to see this anthology on basic principle. 

Most Nightmare-Worthy Moment: Well... there's a claymation toilet with teeth...

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