The ABC's of Death (2013)

14L7J0EOne aspect of “The ABC’s of Death” that many audiences will acknowledge. Even when it’s bad it’s really damn unique. “The ABC’s of Death” isn’t always a home run, and I will in no way consider it a masterpiece of modern cinema any time soon, but as an ambitious experience bold enough to include various themes that are normally considered in bad taste for mainstream cinema, I was fond of it. I appreciated its ambition. I respected its originality, and I really did love its sense of humor.

Every segment has a craft and skill to it, and every short film really does pack a punch, however weak it may be. Even at its darkest and most grim (“P is for Pressure” is just downright depressing), it has a tongue in cheek sense of humor about it that makes it impossible to turn away from. Even during nonsensical dribble like Noboru Iguchi’s “F is for Fart,” I found it nigh impossible to look away, and at no point did I drift off. Like every anthology film, there are great stories and there are pointless ones, but “The ABC’s of Death” is over two hours long and features twenty six stories from twenty six directors, all of whom are assigned a letter to make a five minute movie about. As one can imagine, some of it is inane, while other segments really did achieve a level of clever or distinctive that I was looking for.

“B is for Bigfoot” from Adrian Bogliano is one of the scariest as a young couple tries to get a girl to sleep by telling her the story of a boogeyman, and things take a turn for the realistic. There’s also some odd segments that take some focus and thinking about including Ernesto Diaz Espinoza’s “C is for Cycle,” as well as Bruno Forzani and Héléne Cattet’s “O is for Orgasm.” With some segments the directors don’t seem to have any ideas and just want to shock and fill time, and it becomes so blatant it’s pathetic. Ti West’s “M is for Miscarriage” seems to be designed only to make audiences gasp, while Jon Schnepp’s “W is for WTF” is mainly just a series of random garbage that will keep audiences waiting for the superior Jason Eisener segment “Y is for Young Buck.” Of course the film does succeed with some genuinely provoking and creative segments like Thomas Malling’s wildly colorful and raucous “H is for Hyrdo-Electric Diffusion,” and the hilarious meta segment of Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett’s “Q is for Quack.”

I also really had a great time during the ironic “D is for Dogfight” by director Marcel Sarmiento, Ben Wheatley’s wonderful “U is for Unearthed,” as well as the demented and excruciating “L is for Libido” by director Timo Tjahjanto. “The ABC’s of Death” is purely for the experimental horror fan looking for something new or absolutely off the wall, and this cinematic experience delivers on every front, even when it’s clearly just wasting time for the next segment. Even if you don’t enjoy the movie entirely with its insistent themes on animal cruelty, pedophilia, and Nazi symbolism, how can you not love Banjong Pisanthanakun’s hysterical “N is for Nuptials”? I couldn’t get over that one. Purely for horror fans in the market for experimental and completely off the wall genre filmmaking, “The ABC’s of Death” is a bold and bizarre anthology that never bored me and never inspired me to check my watch. It’s a very interesting collaboration of creative cinematic minds, and one that warrants at least one viewing.

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