'The ABCs of Death' review: It takes many directors to run through the alphabet
"A" is for agonizing, awful and apocalyptic.
"B is for bizarre, brutal and bloody.
"D" is for disturbing, deeply disturbing, "S" for subversive, "T" for twisted and trangressive.
"The ABCs of Death" is an instant midnight movie, a morbid mishmash of styles and filmmaking formats -- 26 films, 26 filmmakers from the four corners of the horror globe, all making short films about death.
It's not for everyone.
Spanish director Adrián García Bogliano's "B is for Bigfoot" is an amusing account of a sexually aroused woman warning her boyfriend's little sister that girls who don't go to sleep by 8 are carried off and eaten by an abominable snowman who now lives in Mexico City. Yes, it has a gory payoff.
Marcel Sarmiento's "D is for Dogfight" may be the most disturbing (which is saying something), a vivid, ugly slow-motion parable about an underworld where dogs fight homeless men to the death. Until one dog, and one homeless guy, find common ground.
"K is for Klutz" is a laugh-out-loud animated affair about a blonde battling, to the death, something she tried and failed to get down the toilet on the first flush. That film's Danish animator Anders Morgenthaler wasn't the only one who thought "toilet" when he joined this project. Lee Hardcastle's comical and crudely made clay animated "T is for Toilet," about toilet-training a tyke, has a wicked payoff, too.
A couple of the American-made movies are built around "What can we make a movie about death around with the letter 'Q' or 'W'?" and are the most amateurish.
"M is for Miscarriage" you can figure out on your own.
Noboru Niguchi's "F is for," let's just say "flatulence," is easily the most daft and kinky -- a Japanese schoolgirl would rather die of the scent of her teacher's gas than volcanic emissions. There's a World War II period piece with a fighter pilot in a bulldog costume seduced by a Nazi in a catsuit, a Robocop riff, a "Dr. Strangelove"-inspired bit, and a ferociously on the mark French short ("X is for XXL") about the self-surgery a harassed and tormented obese girl undergoes to look like the models she sees in fashion ads. Xavier Gens did that one.
The blood flows, the gore grows and the strain shows as the filmmakers try to find new ways to off people, new ways to gross out and fresh attempts to offend (like child prostitution). About half of the short films work and half don't. But even the half that do can be a grim slog for those not inured to the splatter/ spatter/ slasher end of the horror spectrum.
THE ABCS OF DEATH
2 stars (Grade: C)
Cast: Scores of actors, no household names
Twenty-six directors from the United States, Mexico, Japan, Thailand, Serbia, France and elsewhere. A Magnet release.
Running time: 2:03
MPAA rating: Unrated, worthy of an NC-17 due to violent and sexual content, often happening at the same time.
Photo/Video credit: Drafthouse Films
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