Magnet releasing of a Drafthouse Films & Timpson Films production
Featuring 30 different directors
*30 due to 4 directing teams
The final 26 realizations contained an abundance of imagination, style and pacing. Some segments fell disappointingly short while others excelled. Not surprisingly everything imaginable was eventually covered from A to Z (or perhaps not, as there is now a part two). In some instances a single short contained enough wickedness to make even the most jaded of genre fan like myself perk up and take note. J for Jidai-geki, W for WTFand Z for Zetsumetsu spring to mind instantly. Dark humor, suspense, gore and some truly OTT bizarre moments blanketed the first installment in hopefully an ongoing franchise. There's even an amusing animated short (T for Toilet) about the inherent perils of toilet training.
*As Feind is one of those who have not watched The ABCs of Death I can only speak for myself. I have not watched simply as to not suffer through 26 short films for the 2 or 3 I find enjoyable. I like to write torture not torture myself HA! Though I have a review coming soon on a similar experiment in filmmaking so perhaps I should finally give it a shot.
*Since Cult is publicly shaming me here I suppose I could finally give the first one a shot. I can always kill him if it’s insufferable! Or worse use my dreaded DELETE power BWAHAHA!
*Damn and all this time I thought the alferbet was Canadian starting with E for Eh!
Directed by E.L. Katz (executive producer of TV's 24)
This fast paced, stylishly produced short shows an assassin involved in carrying out a hit. With its fast pace and exciting soundtrack I immediately thought of the impressive hit film The Collector. Mid-way through a viewer might think they know what 'A' stands for, I was wrong, though immediately guessed it as soon as the tone of this piece began to change. Not to worry as it all results in a satisfying conclusion, albeit three weeks after the fact. It’s an enjoyable and darkly humorous opener.
B is for Badger
Directed by Julian Barratt (British comedian, 1st time directing)
A nature show hosted by Peter Towland reports on the plight of a warren of hill dwelling mammals supposedly wiped out as a result of the environmental damage caused by a nearby power station. This is an enjoyable and well shot darkly humorous tale in which a production crew tastes the unwarranted wrath of an inept perfectionist in the form of a “holier than thou” presenter. Moments later they experience karma in its sweetest form. Another enjoyable short.
Directed by Julian Gilbey (Reckoning Day, A Lonely Place To Die)
The vigilante townsfolk of a small Yorkshire hamlet decide to pass judgment on one of their own following the disappearance of a young lady.
...”It takes a village (fill in the blanks)” ...I won't give it away.
This one deserves applause for its disturbingly realistic and grisly FX work.
A highly recommended well shot segment that is sure to stay with you for some time.
Directed by Robert Morgan (animator w/30+ international awards)
This is a sublime stop motion segment full of bizarre meaning and madness folks. A cultish gathering embalms an unfortunate individual without sticking around to make sure the job is complete, the resulting fallout is disastrous. Necromancy, a cock roaches’ gaping umm… asshole? and demon worship are some of the key words here all under the bloody banner of WTF. This is a segment that I believe will be hard to outdo in terms of imagination.
Directed by Alejandro Brugues (Juan of the Dead, Personal Belongings)
Two castaways happen upon a beauty who has washed ashore. When she falls for one of them their friendship is tested. A segment that gives new meaning to the phrase “Bros before Hoes”. Wonderfully shot with a jaunty soundtrack with attention given to the smallest details and all amazingly without any dialogue.
F is for Falling
Directed by Aharon Keshales & Navot Papushado (Big Bad Wolves, Rabies)
A parachuter is caught, stuck in the lower branches of a tree. She is released by a young passerby who falls for her charms and the lure of “glory” in bringing her (the “Israeli bitch”) to the townsfolk without the aid of another. His inexperience and false bravado come to the forefront as she attempts escape. The soundtrack to this one provides emotion and a somber feeling of dark menace adding to its overall charm. In short, a great short.
Directed by Jim Hosking (Renegades, Crabs)
The generation gap is more than obvious when an unappreciative cock-sure grandson sits with his grandfather sharing a cognac, the “Good stuff” to which the younger replies, ”I've tasted wee wee better than this.” This hort soon turns very disturbing with grandad's rebuttal to being called a “twat” (for the upteenth time). He soon reveals perhaps a little more than his grandson bargained for. A very enjoyable short that led me to believe this actually might be what the pensioners are thinking of today's youth so umm… respect your elders!
Directed by Bill Plympton (Oscar nominated animator)
Anyone familiar with the work of this animation genius should be well aware of what they might be in store for and the assumption won't be far wrong. I'll mention suck face warfare which should be about enough without spoiling the premise. An enjoyable short but sweet addition to this anthology.
I is for Invincible
Directed by Erik Matti (Magic Temple)
This short opens with a juicy stabbing, a “fuck-off” size gun being shot at close range and the words Die ma, die and give us our money. This should be quite a wakeup call if this anthology has done nothing for you yet but put you to sleep. A small gathering surround their matriarch, who's bound to a chair, all the while discussing how to split her wealth and assets accumulated over her one hundred and twenty years of life. This short is as shamefully unapologetic as the holocaust and as politically correct as a burning cross impaling an NFL Redskins helmet but I will openly admit I loved every goddamn second!
Directed by Dennison Ramalho (Ninjas, Embodiment of Evil)
If this segment doesn't spark some controversy I don't know what possibly could. A father casts out his son after an investigation outs him as gay. Two priests assist each other in order to combat the entity that “must” be possessing his spirit and his choice to be gay. They get more than they bargain for when the tactics they employ only result in failure. An interesting short that is easy to like.
K is for Knell
Directed by Kristina Buozyte (Vanishing Waves) & Bruno Samper (writer, 1st time directing)
So far this is the first “deep” short on this anthology, admittedly for me it may need several views to fully understand. As far as I can make out a girl witnesses a strange alien entity take over a nearby tower block creating manifestations of rage. Suddenly all eyes turn towards her. A puzzling but thought provoking short.
Directed by Lancelot Imasuen (Games Women Play, Critical Decision)
This short had a heavy tribal/sacrificial rites vibe, it even bears subtitles when none are really needed. Personally I found this one a little confusing but not altogether unlikable, a few of the physical effects were rather comical as was the demon. Here's hoping I didn't just give this one away.
M is for Masticate
Directed by Robert Boocheck (Horrific, Venus Demento)
This could have easily been directed by the same person responsible for the popular Radiohead video Karma Police(*You know this? Radiohead? Feind weeps.), it's puzzling at first why everything is in slow motion but everything soon makes sense when this short's conclusion is reached. Another well executed, interesting and rather topical vision.
Directed by Larry Fessenden (Habit, I Sell The Dead)
It's Halloween and all the beasts and ghouls are... a five letter word meaning converging... If only Downtown wasn't so busy I could finish this puzzle while driving. I enjoyed this, even though it had a slight art house feel to it, it still flowed nicely.
O is for Ochlocracy (Mob Rule)
Directed by Hajime Ohata (Henge, Kataribe)
In the possible near future A.pparent D.eath S.yndrome (being a zombie) is a treatable condition, you can get tried for your crimes against those inflicted with it even if done in self-defense. Be wary of an undead judge and jury when pleading innocence. A rare instance when the zombie genre is flipped on its head. A pleasing short with great FX. Why am I not surprised this masterpiece hails from Japan?
Directed by Todd Rohal (The Catechism Cataclysm, The Guatemalan Handshake)
This one holds the belt for the strangest short yet. Three stumbling and stuttering 'fraidy cats light a candle in the dark and happen across a dancing fellow who proceeds to blow out their only source of illumination while transforming as if standing in front of a carnival funhouse mirror pulling faces. This piece feels like an Abbott and Costello homage, something you rarely witness on an everyday basis. *Just an aside Feind loves Abbot and Costello.
Q is for Questionnaire
Directed by Rodney Ascher (Room 237, Visions of Terror)
An Intelligence quiz taken by a stranger seems rather innocuous, is there something more to it, a new career path perhaps? I liked this short, it made me chuckle while at the same time exhuming many of the conspiracy theories I have until very recently put to rest. Some great FX and acting make this one work.
Directed by Marvin Kren (Rammbock, Blood Glacier)
A film noir vibe and soundtrack lends emotion to this short. As the chambers in a gun empty so too do the chances of surviving the next round, but at what cost? This is a well produced short with a delightful twist. I won't ruin it, I will however mention that there's only one bullet.
S is for Split
Directed by Juan Martinez Moreno (Game of Werewolves)
A telephone conversation between a couple miles apart transforms into something quite unexpected when there comes a knock on the door. This short grabbed me by the throat and didn't relinquish its chokehold until its surprising big reveal in the final moments. Split screen camera work lends tension to this brilliant piece.
T is for Torture Porn
Directed by Jen and Sylvia Soska (American Mary)
In this short a casting agent and his excitable crew are recruiting for a new feature. Attempting to push the limits of decency they unleash something far worse than they have encountered many times before... ”A dick? C'mon you guys, how many f'ing times is this gonna happen?” An interesting entry that spits in the face of the degradation genre of porn.
Directed by Vincenzo Natali (Cube, Splice)
In Utopia you must conform and be up to everyone else's standards or well… this piece certainly demonstrates the ramifications of not doing so. A shuddering example of what the future may look like if the cosmetics companies and global conglomerates have their every evil greedy wish come true.
V is for Vacation
Directed by Jerome Sable (The Legend of Beaver Dam, Stage Fright)
You really should be careful of whom you choose to go on vacation with. A videophone conversation turns sour when all the juicy details of a bro-cation are exposed. A well executed “found footage” / POV segment.
W is for Wish
Directed by Steven Kostanski (Father's Day, Manborg)
I was well expecting this to be directed by the minds behind the sci-fi parody Manborg as it feels very similar (*On the nosey Rosey, he also directed the Troma film – Father’s Day. C’mon man!). It has larger than life sets, caricature fantasy creatures and acts of depravity that could easily grace the pages of any adult fanboy's fantasy comic book. Prepubescent boys are pulled into the world of their fantasy action figures (they’re not dolls!) and much to their chagrin it isn't at all what they imagined it would be like. If you are anything like me and enjoy dark humor, gore and political incorrectness you will devour this segment.
Directed by Julien Maury & Alexandre Bustillo (Inside, Livid)
Admittedly there isn't much you can do with an X, or a xylophone for that matter. Whatever you choose to do with it be warned grandma is outta her meds. It played out exactly as I thought it might after the first minute, but it was still enjoyable... and that lil bugga got exactly what she deserved.
Y is for Youth
Directed by Soichi Umezawa (make up artist, 1st time directing)
This is perhaps the longest short and quite possibly the most bizarre. In it a girl struggles as she is caught in the middle of her family's idiosyncrasies. She daydreams to keep herself detached creating vivid fantasies that do nothing to help her current situation. This short is effects laden and over abundant in its flow of creative juices. It might be one you'll want to watch again and again, I can't get enough of it. Outstanding though a tad strange.
Z is for Zygote
Directed by Chris Nash (FX artist, 1st Time directing)
This is a stunner for the closing piece. In this short a mother struggles to prevent giving birth after her husband leaves seemingly never to return. She struggles more but thank heavens for the “root”... fuck, was that really the last piece? I'm trying my hardest to stop from musing upon the implications of this segment's conclusion. Some amazing FX and sound effects make this tale one of the most jaded and enjoyable letters in this alphabet of death.
Thank you Cult for an excellent job!
Feel free to comment and tell us what you thought.