It should have been something truly great. When horror fans first heard of The ABCs Of Death there seemed to be a good feeling about it. 26 short films by 26 different directors who were each given a budget of $5,000 and complete free rein to do whatever they wanted as long as it was connected with their assigned letter of the alphabet. I think they may have also had an optimum runtime to aim for, but I’m not 100% sure on that part.
Anyway, let me say right now that The ABCs Of Death is a huge disappointment. Perhaps it was inevitable. Every anthology movie can be a hit or miss affair and so the risk was amplified in a film with 26 short stories in the mix.
I’m not going to cover any of the individual segments here because part of the fun, indeed the main part, is in figuring out just what each segment is about and who directed it. They appear in alphabetical order so viewers know to find a connection to A, B, C, etc. but the title and director’s credit appear at the end to allow everyone a chance to guess before details are revealed.
I’m also not going to name everyone involved, but I will list a few of the well-known people having their fun with letters: Ti West, Ben Wheatley, Jake West, Angela Bettis, Adam Wingard (who provides one of my favourite sequences with a wonderful slice of meta madness), Jason Eisener, Xavier Gens, Srdjan Spasojevic (director of the infamous A Serbian Film), Jorge Muchel Grau and many more.
There are plenty of scenes that provide some decent entertainment – without telling you what they’re about I will nominate Q, D, L, X and E as five that actually impressed me – but there are far too many moments that reek of self-indulgence. Many of the directors involved seem to think that being given $5,000 and free rein means they must do their best to throw in as much nudity and as many bodily functions as possible. In fact, I’d say that about 50% of the shorts included in the movie are puerile nonsense, potentially embarrassing for any horror fans who end up convincing someone to view the film with them.
It’s certainly worth a watch, but probably only the once. Here’s hoping that S-VHS and The Profane Exhibit (both out this year) provide some much better entertainment.
The ABCs Of Death was shown as part of the Glasgow Film Festival/Frightfest on Saturday 23rd February.
DIRECTOR: LOTS AND LOTS AND LOTS
WRITER: LOTS AND LOTS AND LOTS
STARS: LOTS AND LOTS AND LOTS
RUNTIME: 123 MINS APPROX
COUNTRY: USA/NEW ZEALAND