**This review contains spoilers**
Twenty-six directors and twenty-six chapters of carnage, The ABCs Of Death will take you on a gory and bloody ride through the alphabet by showing you an assortment of bizarre scenarios for death with each letter. From possessed toilets to deadly farts, The ABCs Of Death spares no expense for brutality, violence, and mayhem.
Oh boy. This was something I’ll never forget, for good and bad reasons. First and foremost, each director/writer for The ABCs Of Death received 100% creative control for their individual letters. Giving creative freedom to the directors and writers was a good thing and a bad thing. On one hand, The ABCs Of Death featured some awesome and shocking shorts (I’ll list my picks for best and worst later on). But on the other hand, some of the shorts were just horrendous, and unbearable most of the time.
It’s a double-edged sword, because the creative freedom really enhanced some of the eccentric uniqueness here. BUT on the flip-side, other directors and writers were trying WAY too hard to be disgusting, shocking, and artistic. Imagine a five year old kid eating a big bag of candy, give him or her a box of crayons or some finger-paint, and then ask them to draw a masterpiece. The end result will be disastrous, and that’s what happens with the bad side of The ABCs Of Death.
And as with most horror anthologies, inconsistency is a MAJOR problem here. Recently, I watched V/H/S, another horror anthology film. The inconsistency didn’t bother me too much, because if I’m not mistaken, V/H/S only had five or six shorts. But The ABCs Of Death throws twenty-six shorts at you. That’s a lot to sit through, and you won’t have too much wiggle room for bad shorts. A is for Apocalypse was a great opener, B is for Bigfoot was a nice follow-up, and C is for Cycle was really eerie, but things start to go downhill at D is for Dogfight.
The ABCs of Death’s seesaw problem is really annoying. Yeah, when The ABCs Of Death kicked into high gear every now and then, I was glued to the screen, because I couldn’t wait for the next letter. But when everything plummets into a downward spiral again, you’re just stuck there waiting for something good to happen. And with The ABCs Of Death, the long waits feels torturous, because chances are you’re sitting in front of an abomination like F is for Farting.
And here are my picks for some of the best and worst shorts in The ABCs Of Death!
A is for Apocalypse
A woman is caring for her sick husband, but when he doesn’t kick the bucket on her schedule, the wife decides to speed things up with a butcher knife.
My Thoughts: A is bloody, gory, and shocking. This short sets the tone for The ABCs Of Death, and you know you’re about see a film with some sick and twisted stuff after watching A.
Plus, I enjoyed the twist at the end. At first, you’re wondering why this woman is so determined to murder her husband. After throwing a bowl of scorching soup in his face, she continues to attack him with the butcher knife, and after successfully stabbing him in the throat, the husband demands some answers for his wife’s motivations. The woman reveals a year long plot of poisoning her husband into a slow and painless death. The wife believed in the predictions of an apocalypse, so she didn’t want her husband to suffer an agonizing death. But time ran out, so she decided to try and finish him off before the world came to an end. As the world crumbles, the woman lays next to her husband, and they die together.
S is for Speed
So two women, who live together are hardcore heroin addicts. One of them has a dream about being chased by the Devil or Grim Reaper (I couldn‘t tell the difference), because he’s coming to take someone with him, and he’s determined to leave with at least one person. The woman having the dream is holding her friend hostage. The kidnapped friend is supposed to be collateral for the time being, because the other woman “isn’t ready yet,” but Death wants the woman, who’s trying to fight the inevitable.
My thoughts: Incredible. This short starts out with a real bang, and there’s a nice little high speed chase at the end. The ending is gut-wrenching, because once death touches the woman he came for, she wakes up into the real world. She ODs from too much junk, and her friend steals the last bag of heroin from her corpse. S is easily my favorite short in this film. Action, emotion, suspense, and the dirty apartment in the real world was an ideal setting for the final minutes of this one.
T is for Toilet
A young kid is afraid to use the toilet for the first time. His parents toss his potty-training toilet in the trash, but the kid has a terrifying nightmare about the family toilet coming to life as a monster, and devouring the whole family………
My Thoughts: The claymation gives this short a cartoonish feeling, and that’s a good thing. The zany stuff in this short is a breath of fresh air, because it gives you a break from the more serious stuff with blood and guts. Yeah, the ending is REALLY messed up, but as I said before, the claymation provides a lighthearted atmosphere, so it’s not so bad.
M is for Miscarriage
A woman rushes downstairs to grab a plunger, and when she returns to the toilet…..
My Thoughts: Well, Ti West directed this short, so of course I liked it. M is probably the shortest feature in this film, but the final image packs a powerful punch. M’s subtlety during the final shot brought a stunned reaction out of me, and I enjoyed Ti West’s “less is more” strategy.
Honorable mentions: O is for Orgasm, R is Removed, N is for Nuptials
F is for Farting
So the outbreak of a deadly gas is destroying Japan. A young woman, who for some asinine reason is afraid to fart in public, takes refuge with her teacher. The young woman has a crush on her teacher, and her final wish is to die by smelling her fart.
My Thoughts: This….was so bad. It’s so over the top and corny, and most importantly, F wasn’t funny. The CGI for the farts is laughably horrendous, and the ending was beyond ridiculous: somehow, the fart from the teacher transports the student into her rectum.
H is for Hydro-Electric Diffusion
A soldier (who’s actually a full grown British bulldog) visit’s a strip joint during World War II. The stripper is a full grown fox, but as she goes through her routine, the fox eventually reveals herself as a Nazi spy.
My Thoughts: For some odd reason, The ABCs Of Death felt the need to run the evil Nazi storylines into the ground. And what’s more amazing than that, is H is not the worst Nazi themed short. The fox’s cheesy diabolical laugh, the tacky special effects, and the stupid conclusion. Everything was a real chore to sit through, and using mascot-like costumes for the main characters was the nail in the coffin for me. This short is just horrible, and I can’t think of any redeeming qualities for H.
W is for WTF!
So the director/writer is trying to come up with something good for the letter W. He’s struggling to find the right concept, but things take a bizarre turn for the worst, when monsters and psychotic zombie clowns take over the world.
My Thoughts: The “breaking the fourth wall” approach is something different of course (it’s not special, because Q is for Quack did the same thing). But WTF! features the same list of reoccurring problems throughout The ABCs Of Death: bad special effects, over the top and unfunny ridiculousness, and a disappointing conclusion.
D is for Dogfight
Desperate and down on his luck, a man decides to fight a dog for money.
My Thoughts: Ugh, this short had so much potential. There’s a nice twist at the end, because as the dog prepares to rip out the man’s throat, the man shouts the name “Buddy,” and the dog freezes. Apparently, the fighter is the owner of the lost dog, and the current owner of the dog stole him away. The real owner gives a command to Buddy, and Buddy mauls the thief to death. D is for Dogfight could’ve been amazing, but the excessive and annoying use of slow motion killed this short.
Honorable mentions: Z is for Zetsumetsu, G is for Gravity, and K is for Klutz.
Showing the word behind the letter after each short was a nice touch. Using the “revealing after-the-fact” technique helped maintain the mystery and element of surprise behind each letter, so you don’t go into each short knowing what’s going to happen.
Still, Twenty-six shorts is just too much. It’s kind of hard to experience feelings of shock and disgust once you get past R, because the previous letters do more than enough to bring out these feelings. For example, X is for XXL is about an overweight woman, who’s tormented by a cruel society. She decides to go home, gorge out on food, and vomit afterwards. Then, she uses various cutting tools to remove the fat from her body, so she can fit into a sexy bikini. That sounds nasty, right? Well, after sitting through other bloody murders, torture shorts, and violent mayhem, I couldn’t experience the intended gross-out reaction for a woman mutilating herself. As the stories progressed, I couldn’t overcome the feeling of being burnt-out, and Z was an awful finale.
The bad outweighs the good in The ABCs of Death. Don’t get me wrong, this film features some great shorts, borderline brilliant in some cases. It’s a unique concept, and combining the alphabet with the storytelling style of a horror anthology film should’ve been a match made in heaven. But the bad shorts are really, REALLY bad, and for me, The ABCs Of Death’s garbage destroyed any chances for a good film.
Also, if you’re the squeamish type, you should avoid The ABCs Of Death. This film features pedophilia, disgusting and gory violence, brutality, tons of blood, and you’ll see plenty of “hard to watch” moments here. The ABCs Of Death is an extreme, repulsive, and vulgar horror movie, and it’s not for the weak at heart.
Final Rating: 3/10