The ABCs of Death (2012)
This isn't really one movie. As much as I disliked the wraparound sections of the V/H/S movies, I have to at least give them credit for tying their various short films into one consistent piece. ABCs of Death is not trying to do that and I cannot help but feel annoyed about that. Also, since this involves 26 short pieces, most of them are extremely short. A few of the films make reference to the anthology they are part of, and it can feel annoying when there is so little actually connecting any of them. Basically every filmmaker has been given a letter and been expected to include a death in their story. That's pretty much the only stipulation provided here, so don't be fooled into thinking this is consistently horror. The V/H/S movies are trying to produce a horror atmosphere, but ABCs of Death really is a complete free-for-all. Many of the films here aim for comedy and not always successfully.
Below I'm going to consider each short film individually sorted into grades with the A grade's first and the E grades last. This really does go through the full spectrum. But right now I'll reveal to you the proportions of good to bad. Just 7 of the 26 films have an A. It should be recognised that I'm not really that stingy with my A grades and there was rather less room for criticism here with the films often being so short. However, 27% isn't all that bad for a proportion of A grades. 38% (10/26) have at least a B-. That's less impressive. That basically means that I disliked well over half the movies in the selection. So I think that's an important point. There is more to dislike than to like here, by far. In fact, 42% (11/26) had a grade of D- or lower, meaning that there was a larger proportion that I actively found painful to watch than there were films that I enjoyed here.
So, what was good, what was bad and why?
7 A-Grade Segments
Title: D Is for Dogfight
Director: Marcel Sarmiento
Previous work: Deadgirl
My grade: A+
I've not seen "Deadgirl", but I'm intrigued about it now. This was the first impressive short film of the bunch. It has no dialogue although it's often clear that people are talking in the film, with any vocal noise blurred out. We begin the film watching a boxer get ready for a boxing match, but he's surprised when he discovers that this isn't going to be a typical boxing match. There's a very neat twist at the end.
Title: H is for Hyrdo-Electric Diffusion
Director: Thomas Cappelen Malling
Previous work: Norwegian Ninja
My grade: A+
I'm guessing that no one here has heard of "Norwegian Ninja", but perhaps we all should have done? This short film is set in WWII but it features anthropomorphic animal characters. It's not a cartoon (in the sense that it isn't animated pictures), but it is very cartoon-like. Our main character is a fighter-pilot bulldog in full fighter pilot gear including flying goggles, going into a nightclub to see a show. On the stage there is a dancer who seems to be a furry's wet dream: a literal (not figurative) fox. But the fox isn't what she seems and some absolutely crazy, pulpy, cartoony antics take place - making this film an absolute joy.
( Click here for the rest of the A-grade segments... )
3 B-Grade Segments
Title: N is for Nuptials
Director: Banjong Pisanthanakun
Previous work: Shutter
My grade: B+
I've never seen Shutter and don't know anything about it. I know absolutely nothing about this director at all. However, this love story gone wrong was really good fun. This is much more comedy than horror and I must admit, I thought it was pretty funny.
( Click here for the rest of the B-grade segments... )
4 C-Grade Segments
Title: B Is for Bigfoot
Director: Adrián García Bogliano
Previous work: Here Comes The Devil
My grade: C+
This was pretty run of the mill. A man is looking after his young cousin, but he and his girlfriend want to have sex undisturbed. So they make up a story about a kind of boogie man to make her stay in bed. I think you can tell where this is going. There's nothing really terribly clever in the execution here.
( Click here for the rest of the C-grade segments... )
8 D-Grade Segments
Title: J is for Jidai-geki
Director: Yudai Yamaguchi
Previous work: Versus
My grade: D+
I suppose you should know you are getting something weird when it comes from the "Versus" director. A man has been given the task of finishing off a samurai committing hara-kiri (killing himself 'honourably' by forcing a sword through his own guts). It's odd subject matter for comedy. Yeah sure, perhaps not so surprising for black comedy, but this is pretty much out-and-out slapstick involved here. There's some pretty crazy effects here and I appreciated that, but I have no idea what the point of this story is supposed to be and I guess I just didn't get the joke. Perhaps if you are more familiar with the genre of jidai-geki (a particular kind of Japanese historical costume drama) then maybe it is more funny. I could not say myself and so that is why I have to rate it so low.
( Click here for the rest of the D-grade segments... )
4 E-Grade Segments
Title: F is for Fart
Director: Noboru Iguchi
Previous work: Mutant Girls Squad, Robo Geisha, Zombie Ass: Toilet Of The Dead
My grade: E-
While all four of the segments receiving an E grade were bad, be in no doubt that this was the worst of the bunch. It's about as bad as you'd expect from the title. Every attempt to make it more interesting through reference to religion just makes it seem all the more stupid in the end.
( Click here for the rest of the E-grade segments... )
( Click here to discover my overall score... )