Thursday, February 19, 2015

ABC's of Death 2 - 26 MORE Ways for Die Violently

ABC's of Death 2
Bunch of Directors, Writers and Actors
Not Rated - Approx 124 Min
Drafthouse Films/Magnet Releasing
aka Death Alphabet 2

Some People Never Learn

It's not easy to review an anthology film.  There's usually a couple good segments and one weak link in the grouping.  That's all fine and well when you've got three to five stories that make up the sum, however when you've got 26 segments to get through, it's more like a filmfest than a film in it's own right.  It's like a cinematic centipede and so I will review it as such, taking it letter by letter.  So right off the bat, there are spoilers if you haven't seen the film before in that I'm gonna tell you what word each letter stands for.  So if you don't wanna know and want to play the "What word is being represented" game as you watch....come back after you've seen it.

Okay, good you're still here!  Since I have retired the pizza roll rating system, I will not rate each individual short either....let's just things flow naturally.

A is for Amateur - A good start, Amateur follows the exploits of an amateur assassin.  We first go through his vision of how the plan should be executed and then we follow along as he carries out his death mission.  As you can guess, being an amateur things do NOT go well for him. 

B is for Badger - Fun but dumb.  Found Footage/Cinéma Vérité is the order of the day here as we join in on what I guess is a news report shoot (or maybe a documentary) about badgers being driven from their home near a nuclear facility.  Guess what.  The badgers are still home.  It's goofy and has a nice gore gag but it could have done more.

C is for Capital Punishment - The actors chew up the scenery in this one.  A man is convicted by his neighbors of killing a neighborhood girls and sentenced to death and brought out to the woods to be executed.  I saw the twist coming a mile away, but that's fine.  The gore was a decent mix of practical and CG and was quite visceral.

Capital Punishment is ROUGH!
D is for Deloused - One of my absolute favorites.  This stop motion short was dark, disturbing with balls out gore, yet still brought to mind the artistry of The Brothers Quay and other such masters of stop motion.  I am not even going to attempt a plot synopsis because this is more stream of consciousness horror.  I'll never look at insects the same way again.

Think this is messed up?  You ain't seen nuthin' yet in D is for Deloused!
E is for Equilibrium - One of the weakest entries.  The short follows two castaways on a beach.  They seem to be getting along fine eating fish and making simple tools from wood and rock.  A woman washes up on the beach and causes a rift between them.  This is played more for laughs than terror, but the laughs fall pretty short.  There is no dialog, which is fine.  The two castaways sport beards that are SO fake looking it's distracting.  I've seen better fake facial hair on Saturday Night Live skits.  All in all a pretty misogynistic affair.

F is for Falling - This one started out promising but really didn't seem to end up going anywhere.  The actors were both fine and the cinematography was rather good as well.  Unfortunately it just didn't really pay off.  A female soldier gets caught in a tree after (I guess) parachuting into enemy territory.  She tries to outwit her soon to be captor, but things go awry.

G is for Grandad - A strange entry that was extremely frustrating because it had potential to do something really wild but instead just sort of lingered in a twilight zone sort of place.  That's not necessarily a BAD thing, it was just very disappointing to see what could have been.  A man and his grandfather don't quite see eye to eye and things get a bit messy.  Plus you see geriatric penis, which I could have done without.

H is for Head Games -  Another bit of animation, this time hand drawn, this is Bill Plympton taking his bizarre styling to a gory and disturbing place.  No dialog, no plot....just three minutes of acid trip animation that would have been at home as late night filler material on cable TV back in the 80's and 90's between movies or TV shows.

I is for Invincible - A group of despicable characters are waiting to gain their inheritance from the matriarch of the family.  The only problem is the old woman won't die no matter what they do to her.  This one was fun and was heavier on the horror aspect than some of the others, with good make-up effects.  Could have been a little shorter though.

K is for Knell - Man oh man.  I don't even know what to say about this one.  It's just pure fever dream logic from start to finish with no real explanation of what we're seeing.  There's a strange object over an apartment building where men are murdering their wives and girlfriends as a woman looks on from a neighboring building.  Then.....some other stuff happens.  I've got no idea what the hell was going on but it was a bit unsettling so I would say it did it's job well!

L is for Legacy - Another of the weak entries.  A man is prophesied to be a threat to his fathers village and is sentenced to death.  The priest in charge of his execution releases him, believing that his mother faked the prophesy to dispose of him and take over the village.  The man then turns into a monster and kills a bunch of people. The monster is pretty tacky.  If it was presented on Face Off as a final make up job, the artist would be sent home.  The blood is fairly poor CG and I hate to sound this negative....especially on anything with a monster....but DAMN!

Glenn Hetrick would tear this monster up!
M is for Masticate - Most of the short takes place in slow motion and called to mind the beginning of Zombieland.  Here we have a large hairy dude with freaky blue eyes running in his underwear and his socks through the streets....things get bloody from there.  The short ends with a comedy punch.  It's rather amusing and well done.

Nom nom nom nom nom

N is for Nexus - A strange entry that would feel right at home in something like Tales from the Darkside.  A man dresses up like Frankenstein for Halloween and heads out to meet his girlfriend who is dressed as The Bride of Frankenstein.  As you might guess, a string of incidents lead to a horrible and tragic conclusion.

There is something so "Monster Kid" about watching Frankenstein ride a bike.
O is for Ochlocracy - Ochlocracy means mob rule.  This is an interesting little segment in which zombies regain their sentience and put surviving humans on trial for killing zombies during their uprising.  At first it was a bit confusing but once I figured out what was going on, I found it quite intriguing.

P is for P-P-P-P SCARY! - First of all, this is completely played for comedic effect.  Secondly, it completely fails on that front.  Third......P-P-P-P SCARY?????  I shook my head through out the entire thing....yet I can't say that I hated it.....but at the same time I think I can say with a fair amount of certainty that this is the worst of the shorts.  Dream logic rules this short as three men who all have terrible stutters as they fumble through a completely black void.  They come across a man holding a baby and shit just goes sideways from there.

Q is for Questionnaire - Another short that has a great idea behind it, but ultimately was fairly lackluster.  A man is being given a questionnaire with the sort of logic questions that people post on Facebook stating "If you're smart you'll figure it out....don't tell anyone the answer!"  And then off course forty-six asshats immediately post the answer in the comments.  I digress.  As the man works out the answers to the questions graphic scenes of brain surgery are interspersed.  The "twist" ending wasn't exactly a twist.....

R is for Roulette -  I enjoyed this one quite a bit.  Three people (two men and a woman) are playing a game of Russian Roulette.  There is genuine tension to be found here as the odds increasingly stack up with each successive turn.  The acting is great and the cinematography is a crisp black and white which adds to the unsettling atmosphere.  One of the highlights of the film.

S is for Split -  This is probably the most unsettling of the shorts, depicting a home invasion as experienced by the victim (a woman) and her husband who is on the phone with her while on a business trip to France.  The short plays out with multiple scenes on screen at the same time (sorta like what they do on 24 when a bunch of stuff is happening at once) and it's quite effective.  The end is a surprise little punch.

T is for Torture Porn - The best way that I can describe this is a cross between Lovecraft and Japanesse Hentai gone wrong by way of the Soska Sisters (who just so happen to be the creators of this segment!).  This was a quick, gory bit with some great gore gag effects.  A young woman is at the mercy of sleazy porn producers (one of which is played by Astron 6's Connor Sweeney!) or so it would seem.  As in most of the shorts, shit gets bad real fast for most everyone involved.

U is for Utopia - A well made short that calls to mind films such as Logan's Run.  A very dystopian look at what utopia would be like.  Hint -  It doesn't pay to be outside the beautiful and perfect crowd.  No real plot to speak of, the short feels more like a deleted scene from some unreleased sci-fi thriller.  That's meant as a compliment.

V is for Vacation - HOLY MISOGYNY BATMAN!  This is another of the weak shorts.  Sure there's some gore in it, but the two main characters are such unimaginable douche bags that you're happy to see them get their comeuppance.  Basically two guys go on a tropical "Guys Getaway".  On of the Bros video calls his girlfriend and lies about them chilling and drinking a few beers.  His even douchier friend then blows the whistle grabs the phone and shows her that they've been doing hard drugs and banging prostitutes.  Then, no surprise, bad stuff happens.

W is for Wish - Hands down the BEST short.  The short starts with a mock commercial for a line of toys called Champions of Zorb (like a cosmic version of He-Man) and two kids wishing that they could be part of that universe.  They are immediately sucked into the realm of Zorb and find that the reality of their fantasy war is brutal and gory as they are captured and meet the villain in the flesh.  I would love to see this turned into a full length feature because there is just so much awesomeness to take in!  This short makes sitting through the weak ones well worth it!  I watched it about 5 times in a row.  Highly recommended!

I want Champions of Zorb toys for Christmas
I was WRONG!!!! 
  X is for Xylophone - Predictable, but still well made.  A woman sits and reads the newspaper as some old timey music plays on a phonograph.  She is rather goth looking.  A young girl wearing a play set of fairy wings sits on the floor in front of her banging away on a toy xylophone.  The noise is clearly starting to bother the woman.  When the child's parents come home they will see just how much.  Nothing really outstanding in this short, but there are some good visuals.

Y is for Youth - Japanese Bizarro Cinema in short form.  A young teen imagines outlandish body horrors befalling her parents for the wrongs.  Among the visual delights are a giant carnivorous hamburger trying to eat the mother....shooting french fries from it's mouth like poison darts.  Also her mother's transformation into a dog is perhaps one of the most disturbing person to animal transformations I have ever seen.  Watching a guitar neck grow out of her father's mouth recalls films like the Tetsuo series.  Another high point in the film.

Z is for Zygote - More body horror as a woman with abandonment issues refuses to allow her baby to be born after her husband leaves her.  Thirteen years later and she is only able to crawl on the floor while her thirteen year old child remains in her womb....and holds conversations with it's mother.  What happens from there is something I don't think I've ever seen before....and that's saying something!

So there you go!  26 mini-reviews!  Sorta makes up for the fact that I haven't been around much in the past couple months, doesn't it?  WELL DOESN'T IT?  Sorry....sorry......I know I've been neglectful of my poor old blog and my podcast.  Fear not faithful readers, The Midnight Cinephilie WILL return to former glory soon. 

 Let's run the stats, shall we?

There is a metric shit ton of gore in this flick.  Pretty much every kind of bodily fluid flows at least once. 

I think that there is less nudity this time around.  Most shorts go for the blood but neglect the boobs. 

More monsters than you can shake a stick at.  Some are unseen, some merely suggested, some shown briefly and some are in your face.  Some are silly and some are terrifying.  At the end of the day, you're still getting a butt-load of monsters.

Final Thoughts

It's been quite a while since I've watched the first ABC's of Death, but I was a little let down by this one.  I thought that being the second in the (I assume) series, they would really go for it.  Some of the shorts do.  D is for Delousing and W is for Wish are definitely examples of where the filmmakers went for it....but then you also get stuff like E is for Equilibrium  and P is for P-P-P-P SCARY! that really makes you wonder how those shorts were selected over others.  I mean seriously.  There was NOTHING better in the P category?  The best short they had in their E selections was an SNL sketch?  What the hell, man?

Let's be honest.....26 shorts in 124 minutes is a bit exhausting.  I would say that a little over half (I'm being liberal here) of the shorts were worth watching.  That means that the next time I put this blu ray in, instead of letting the film run through, I'm going to have to just hen peck my way through to watch the decent shorts.  That sucks.  Let's be a bit more judicious in our selections for ABC's 3, shall we?


  1. Looks like I get my chance to check this out on Netflix in March. I'll use your post to help me pick and choose selectively.

  2. I think you'll dig it, dude. If you want to see the best right out of the gate, then start with W is for Wish!