WARNING: THIS BLOG CONTAINS BODYCOUNT. HIGH RISK OF SPOILERS. ENTER IF YOU DARE.

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Fun and Weird Ways of Learning: The ABCs of Death (2013)

The ABCs of Death (2013)
Starring:  Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, Iván González, Kyra Zagorsky (and, like, a bajillion more. Not enough to list them all)

WARNING! THE FOLLOWING POST MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS!
SHIT LOAD OF SPOILERS!

Now that's an anthology! I think.

Alright, so, I managed to snag a lookie-look to this "movie" and see what was all the fuss about. Both positive and negative fusses. All through out the anthology, I have to admit, as a whole movie it can be very uneven, but I would like to do this a little fairly and review each of these shorts instead. Each. Figured since these shorts are hailed by 26 different directors, from different points of the globe, I think it's more reasonable to do a short review of each of the shorts, with their own individual ratings and bodycount, since they're their own individual films, unlike most anthologies who're wrapped around with a central idea. So, without further stalling, here are your Alphabets of Death!

A is for Apocalypse
rating: **1/2
A rather weak opening act if not slightly clever, the short opens with a sickly man getting attacked by his wife with a knife. She succeeds on slicing a hand and sticking it into her hubby's neck, thus killing him? Not exactly. There's a twist in the short that pertains to the alphabet, thus counting this mini-review as a spoiler for you all.

Personally, it felt too short for me as the shocks came in too soon and it could had done better with a few build up. None the less, the gore was juicy, and I dig the bittersweet shock ending to this.

Bodycount:
1 male knife to the neck, presumably dies in disaster
1 female presumably dies in disaster
 total: 2
B is for Bigfoot
rating: **1/2

 I was nervous with this one. Not only was this title very misleading, but also because of the weak start. Thankfully, this one had done a little better in terms of execution but in contrast to the opening act's strong gore, this one had gone a little tame.

B is for Bigfoot was about a small girl being told a story about a creature that steals little kids' hearts when he catches them awake pass their bedtime. Telling the little girl this story was her brother and her brother's girlfriend who, unknown to them, doesn't know that their story's all too real and outside lurks the real "creature", armed with a pizza cutter.

I kinda like this one cuz it features a rather cool idea for a killer, but I just wished they made some effort on the gore. Fair enough.

Bodycount:
1 male killed
1 female had her heart cut off with a pizza cutter
 total: 2
C is for Cycle
rating: *

This was just confusing. Like really confusing. I've seen a lot of time travel movies that ended up in cycles but this just failed as a short film version of one. The problem here is that it doesn't tell or show where does the so called "cycle" starts, thus you're left wondering how and what just happened. For all I know this might just be a metaphor for something but all I came to understand is that this short sucks.

Bodycount:
1 male garroted with a wire wrapped garden hose
total: 1
D is for Dogfight
rating: ****

Well, praise Jesus and Buddha! This was a hoot!

Dogfight is about an underground fight club that appears to be kidnapping dogs for the gambled rounds. Here we see then a human boxer who appears to have gotten himself thrown into the pit where he fights, bare-handedly, an attack dog.

This has to be some of the best shorts featured in this collection; shot in slow-mo yet perfectly paced to catch all the action, it's very brutal and shocking as man and beast battle it out in blood. Best of it all, it leads to an unexpected twist that's just clever, bloodier and ironically sweet. Worth going through a couple of bad shorts!

 Bodycount:
1 male mauled by dog, face beaten with fire extinguisher
total: 1
E is for Exterminate
rating: **

Scream Queen Angela Bettis directed this odd short, her own take on the popular urban legend about spider eggs. Nothing brutal, just kinda there; to be frank, I thought this was E for Eggs so I kinda saw the ending miles away. Could have been worse, least it's kinda funny...

Bodycount
1 male has spiders broke out of his face
total: 1
F is for Fart
rating: 0

Don't wanna sound racist but yeah, when it comes to horror, Japan can be too weird. In fact, does this even count as horror? I kinda saw more softcore fetish than blood here. And I highly doubt a surreal short about some Atheist broad's disgusting fetish about some other girl's fart counts as horrifying. Wait, I take that back, it is horrifying! Horrifying in the sense I just wasted a good minute or two watching this one!

WTF Japan?!

Bodycount:
2 females suffocates in gas
1 female sen with her head ablaze
1 female suffocates in gas
total: 4
G is for Gravity
rating: **

An extremely short short film about some guy surfing into the ocean and then drowns himself. I honestly don't know what to say about this one; I had to re-watch this short just for me to understand that he just drowned himself but I got to admit, I felt a little uncomfortable watching this. Maybe because it was shot in POV style? I think this would had gone better as a scene of an actual movie but on its own, it's just sad. Tense, but sad.

Bodycount:
1 male drowned and weighed himself down in the ocean with bricks
 total: 1
H is for Hydro-Electric Difussion
rating: ****

Wow, who knew furries can be this hot and live action cartoons can be this entertaining?

A spoof on cartoon violence, H tells the tale of one English Bulldog's trip to a burlesque bar, where he's entrance by a foxy fox. Unfortunately, Madam vixen is an undercover Nazi and she's there to kill him with a menagerie of wheeled bear traps and the titled Hydro-Electric Diffusion device!

Sexy, funny and overall exploitative, Hydro-Electric makes another worthwhile wait through some junkies, just to see them fox junkies and an anthromorphized bulldog beat the crap out of some Nazi scum!

Bodycount:
1 female electrocuted until face melts
total: 1
I is for Ingrown
rating: ***

Again, this might work better as a scene on a full length movie but on its own, Ingrown follows the final thoughts of a dying woman who get herself injected with some chemical by a syringe-wielding man. Nothing overly special, just shocking and very tense to watch. Kinda leaves you wondering who or what just happened though but all I can say is that Death. Death just happened.

Bodycount:
1 female injected with chemical, poisoned
total: 1
J is for Jidai-Geki
rating: ***1/2

And now, another short movie from Japan. Again. This time however, I'm in no hurry to skip it cuz this one's kinda worthy of its time. It follows a nervous samurai who keeps seeing his sepukku victim donning one weird face to another. It's funny as it is obscure, and surprisingly tense. You'll never know what happens next! Love the ending to this one, worth some chuckles!

Bodycount:
1 male guts himself, decapitated with sword
total: 1
K is for klutz
rating: ***

Another quirky and funny short, this time about a woman in a toilet who finds her own poop to be quiet a hassle to get rid off. Some time however, it appears that the feces has a mind of its own and, well, things isn't never end well when it involves a moving piece of shit!

A funny surreal animated short, a little sexy and a bit gross but good enough for laughs.

bodycount:
1 female gets a sentient feces force its way through her innards
total:1
L is for Libido
rating: ****

Wow, just, wow. This has to be one of the nastier entries in this anthology. A room full of well dressed and masked spectators watches captive men being forced to masturbate for their survival in different stages. They start off simple with nude women, those who couldn't cum fast enough are executed via anal impalement but as the stage goes up, the men are forced to jerk-off to weirder and more shocking acts of sexual deviancy, such as a crippled girl masturbating with her own prosthetic leg and even child rape!

Think of this as a short and Asian version of that controversial shocker A Serbian Film; equally bloody, shocking and intense. After you've finished this one, I'll guarantee this, you'll feel bad about yourself...

Bodycount:
1 male skewered with spike
11 males presumably skewered with spike
1 male skewered with spike
1 female head skewered with spike
1 male dismembered with chainsaw
total: 15
M is for Miscarriage
rating: *

Is it me, or is Ti West's movies getting crappier by the second? No pun intended for this short as it's literally about another toilet, but the problem here was that it's so called horror was just cheap and very lazy. Ti, what happened to you? What happned to the guy who made cult goods like House of the Devil or Cabin Fever 2? Get your head on the game!

Bodycount:
1 baby miscarried
total: 1
N is for Nuptial
rating: ***

A funny black comedy about a lover who gives a parrot to his girlfriend as both a gift and his own sweet way to propose to her. Problem? The Parrots knows a little too much, enough to have this guy stabbed to death. Not entirely shocking or scary, but I laughed and I'm glee. Oh, and what a devilish glee it was!

Bodycount:
1 male slaughtered with knife
total: 1
O is for orgasm
rating: *

I swear to God, I think I've been through this one. Apparently this short was directed by Bruno Forzani, who some of you may know to be the director of the art-house giallo Amer. Sadly, as much as I love Amer, this is hardly counts as horror as it's actually more of a surreal collection of artistic image mumbo-jumbo. Not very impressive if you'd seen this all before nor will it even for those who hadn't seen a Forzani film or two! Just as lazy as Miscarriage, and twice as stressing.

 Bodycount:
1 female hanged
total: 1
 P is for Pressure
rating: **

A psychological entry, Pressure follows a prostitute mother's struggles of buying her eldest daughter a bicycle for her birthday. Oddly enough, this also barely counts as horror for me, though I admit the ending is just shocking. (I own a cat, and I hate crush videos. You sick fucks! If you're reading this, hope your lonely lives end up with wasting your cash on petty drugs, a fucking needle and an OD!) Distressing, upsetting and hits a low blow, the quality of the short is however impressive considering there's barely any speech uttered, showing how effectively expressive this is.

I doubt watching this will make me like the director's more well known work Red, White and Blue (2010), but I might check out some of his other shorts.

Bodycount:
1 cat crushed (that bitch...)
total: 1
Q is for Quack
rating: ***

Taking a lighter and more comical tone on animal cruelty is Quack, a funny short about this film's director and his co-worker friend trying to make a short film about death which involves the letter Q. The duo then agree to kill a duck. (Since Ducks go "quack"...duh) but sadly, none of them had the guts or brains to do it, so they suffer the consequences.

A bit random but at least this counts as a silly patellae cleaner for that sour taste left in me by Pressure.

Bodycount:
2 males shot each other
total: 2
R is for Removed
rating: ***1/2

Well, I'll be true about this one; I didn't get much out of the plot. It involves a man who's held captive by some doctors because they need to skin his badly burnt and infected back so they can use his flesh and blood to process some nitrate film. But after being their Guinea pig for far too long (I think), the man finally snaps and murders doctors and bystanders in quite a gory display and made his way to some tracks to push a train.

And then it started raining blood that's obviously a sprinkler system cuz I can see the damn thing on the top of the screen.

I think what appealed to me in this title is that it kinda gone into a slasher film format, with some graphically creative deaths including feces drowning and an IV pole impalement. I can ignore plot anytime just for those.

Boducount:
1 male neck broken with chain
1 male head smashed with bottle
1 male skewered with IV pole
1 male shot
1 male bled to death from wounds
total: 5
 S is for Speed
rating: 1/2

Speed is literally and figuratively about speed. It had two girls out in the desert riding away, trying to outride a mysterious hooded figure who's out to claim one of them. There's a good twist in the end but it's never something we hadn't seen or heard of before, and this short was executed so quickly I just lost all care for any of these characters. Boring. Nuf, said.

Bodycount:
1 female suffers through drug overdose
total: 1
 T is for Toilet
rating: ****

Oh yeah! I was excited for this one! I've been following Lee Hardcastle's Claymation videos for quite a while and let me tell you this, his Youtube Channel is bloody disturbing! I'm just glad the pick they choose was one of my favorites! A nightmarish encounter in a toilet had a little boy's parents, while trying to help their son get over his fears of dying in the bathroom, get savagely eaten by a potty-mouthed monster!

The whole animation was just upsetting and dreadful, and yet in a good way! Gore is deliciously nasty, traumatizing and the shock-twist ending's one of the best I've seen! Worth the trouble!

Bodycount:
1 female face burnt off by creature's acidic blood, eaten in half
1 male gets creatures tongue ran though his arse, crushed and eaten
1 boy head crushed
total: 3
U is for Unearthed
rating: ***

I dunno about you guys, but I think this is damn good and entertaining. Unearthed is a POV shot of an unearthed vampire who finds herself attacked by the same people who dug her out. It's a simple short actually, and like some of these in the collection, would actually worked better if it's a little longer or would have been a part of a feature length film, but as far as entertainment and creative value counts, I never seen anyone who had done a POV film through the villain's eyes so I'll I've this one a passing mark!

Bodycount:
1 female neck bitten
1 female stake through the heart, decapitated with axe
total: 2
V is for Vagitus
rating: **

Here's another example of a short that should be longer. Vagitus is an action thriller about a futuristic raid involving a police woman and her robot cohort gunning down what appears to be armed mercenaries. But as the cop begins to arrest what's left of the mercenaries, she found out that her mission isn't all that it seems and these people she encountered might be hiding something quite powerful.

I like the idea, and I like the twist. I enjoyed the shoot-up action and the badass robot cop, but the idea was rushed, and the multitude of twists just came in too soon for me and was left unexplained, or at least tried to be explained. I would enjoy this if it was a little longerbut so far, it's a fair count. (besides, out of all the shorts, this one had the most kill count. That calls for something, right?)

Bodycount:
2 females and 1 male decimated in explosion
8 males shot
1 female shot with machine gun
1 male shot with machine gun
1 female shot
1 male killed off camera
1 male shot with machine gun
1 male shot in half
1 male head explodes via telekinesis
total: 18
W is for WTF!
rating: 0

...Seriously? What the fuck was that? Some crappy animation cum gore slash zombie apocalypse film meets mindfuck? Nothing scary, nothing shocking, just plain stupid and weird. I swear to Glob, the only good shit about this "short film" is that shot of some nurse with a tight blouse. Other than that, I rather shot my gnarls off with a shotgun than go through this pile of smoking hot shit again. If you like weird, this is for you. But I'm sure even the weirdest feller I know wouldn't even get this one. (Unless one exist. Then buddy, I wish you a well yet lonely life...)

Bodycount:
1 animated female disemboweled with knife
1 animated male electrocuted
1 male ogre seen dead
1 paraplegic male pushed off the cliff
1 female eaten by zombies
1 male eaten by zombies
1 male head torn off
1 female eaten by zombies
1 male face eaten by creature
1 male decapitated with sword, head stabbed with knife
total: 10
X is for XXL
rating: ***1/2

Being a little chubby, I have to say this was discomforting to watch; but Xavier Gens, who brought us the Neo-Nazi slasher Frontier(s), cooked up the most vile and gruesome torture porn splatter short about an extra large woman's determination to slim down after a whole day (or rather a whole afternoon) of ridicule from people around her. Of course, this being a splatter movie, we're not talking about exercise...

If you got a strong stomach or non-quivering eyes, then this is a good shocker from beginning to end. Least this makes up for Gens' rather dull survival flick The Divide...

Bodycount:
1 female flayed herself
total: 1
Y is for Youngbuck
rating: ****

From the minds of Hobo with a Shotgun, comes this retro montage of a pedophile janitor's demise. Rocking soundtrack (WOOT! POWERGLOVE!), with some awesome visuals, great gore and some creepy disturbing sequences, I better keep the review for this one simple cuz I think this is one of the most unbeatable entry in this anthology! Eisener just know how to make a film shocking, nostalgic and utterly artistic with so little to use!

Bodycount:
1 male eyes punctured with antlers, head torn off
total: 1

And lastly
Z is for Zetsumetsu
rating: 0 or should I say WTF?!

Does this even count as horror? What the heck, Japan?

I don't even get what this was about. Some guy selling Japan-made products? Commercialization? Softcore porn? Fuck, I don't know and I don't care, all I know is that's three entries from Japan and two of them already fucked up, and I just used the F-bomb twice in one sentence, meaning I'm stark-raving mad and I had enough.

This is just awful and I know this country can do better. I can't believe I'm saying this, but bring in some long-haired ghosts! Least those kind of movies sometimes makes more sense than art house-porn like this!

Bodycount:
3 males shot through with gun
1 female gutted with bladed dildo
total: 4

So there you have it. A parade of the Bad, the awful, the decent and the too good for words! As each of these directors expressed full artistic freedom, I'm just glad I'm able to made it this far, criticizing their works without losing my mind. (Or did I?)

So whether you're curious to see what unholy legion this film has, or been aching to see what's your favorite horror director up to now, The ABCs of Death is a roller coaster ride that you just had to see to believe.

Total Bodycount: 83

4 comments:

  1. Just finished watching this crazy and epic experiment and I generally agree with most of your ratings, but I would give the first two a little more and I liked S for Speed. F for Fart was horribly silly and pointless, just like WTF and Zetsumetsu. T for Toilet was really awesome, probably my favorite along with Unearthed.
    In general, i think its a pretty interesting anthology, the good outweighed the bad. You don't see many anthologies around and none went to this level of diversity. Some pieces really deserved more time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Apocalypse ended too soon for me, though I like the twist. Bigfoot would had got another star if they had shown the killings.

      Fart, WTF and Zetsumetsu deserved to be flushed down along the miscarried baby from Ti West's little mishap there. (Seriously, what's happening to him?) Though I am getting suspicious to why do most of the shorts took place in a bathroom?

      Delete
  2. 83 deaths! WOW! Thanks for counting.

    I totally enjoyed this movie. While some shorts were good and some were awful, I liked the variety of it, and it did introduce me to a bunch of new directors whose films I now have to check out.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Pinoy here! Wish to meet you.. We have the same passion in weird movies. :)

    ReplyDelete