The ABCs of Death is one mind-fuck of a film. As someone who grew up watching classics like Brain Damage, Bad Taste, and Evil Dead, it felt like a homecoming.
ABC’s is produced by Ant Timson and Tim League, based on an original idea by Ant Timson. It is a collection of twenty-six short films each with a death scene and each representing a different letter of the alphabet. Directors from all over the globe have come together and shared their talents for this film. No two shorts are alike. Most are fast and furious: a horror lover’s dream-come-true.
The titles are cleverly designed. Kids’ building blocks with letters surrounded by blood work on so many levels and tie each of the stories back to the original theme. The artwork and music for the final credits are effective and engaging. As a whole, ABC’s is funny, disturbing and perhaps the best horror film I have watched in many years. Anyone who misses the video-nasties of the 1980s really should check this film out.
Individually there are strong and weak links in the short films. As a cohesive whole, I feel this doesn’t matter. However, I will review my favourite shorts individually, trying not to include any spoilers. I think it is important that I do not include the word which inspired the short in the reviews. Trying to guess the chosen words as you watch is part of the fun.
A is for …, by Nacho Vigalondo shows a violent domestic dispute with incredible special effects. It is a wonderfully funny short which keeps the viewer guessing up until the final moments as to which word starting with A the director has chosen.
B is for …, by Adrian Garcia Bogliano is set in Mexico. Two lovers use a scary bedtime story to prevent a little girl from disturbing them. It is a fantastically scary short in the tradition of A Nightmare on Elm Street and Candyman.
D is for …, the fourth short by Michael Sarmiento and is one of the highlights of the entire piece. It uses visual images and natural sounds, rather than language to convey the story; working in a multi-lingual movie. It is violent, bloody and filled with tense moments. It is impossible to predict the final scene – a true cinematic masterpiece.
F is for …, by Noboru Iguchi, is a work of bizarre, comedic genius. Like me, I suspect you will find it impossible to stop laughing, a welcome interlude from blood and gore.
I is for …, by Jorge Michel Grau, is the first mind-fuck film of the collection. It is intensely disturbing. While it leaves important questions unanswered, it remains a perfectly complete story, which haunted me long after the final credits.
L is for …, by Timo Tjahjanto, made me squirm uncomfortably in my seat. It is one of the nastiest, sickest and most disturbing things I have ever had the “pleasure” to watch – sheer brilliance.
N is for …, by Banjong Pisanthanakun, is an ironically funny short. Unlike the others, the violence is inferred rather than shown, which works in the context of the whole collection.
O is for …, by Bruno Forzani and Helene Cattet, is fascinating, surreal and fetishistic. Frames shift constantly between pleasure and pain confusing the senses.
P is for …, by Simon Rumley, presents a stark reality which is painful to observe.
R is for …, by Srdjan Spasojevic, is a slow, gruesome tale. Confusing in delicious ways, it keeps you guessing the theme until the final frame. It is another short which choose to bypass the use of language, relying on perfectly selected visuals to convey the story.
S is for …, by Jake West, is sexy, stylised and sassy in a violent comic-book tradition.
T is for …, by Lee Hardcastle, is a gloriously funny yet grisly Claymation.
X is for …, by Xavier Gens, is up there with D and L in my top three favourite shorts. It plays with cultural messages of beauty, misogyny and psychosis and is incredibly difficult to watch at times. Bravo.
Y is for …, by Jason Eisener, is very creepy. Both shorts (X and Y) handle worldwide issues with ease and in horrifying ways. At the end of this short, I am left with the feeling that Eisener’s letter decision was secondary to the story he wished to tell, but it was a great short nevertheless.
Z is for …. By Yoshihiro Nishimura, is a surreal parody of the hunger for violent erotica and technical advances in Japan while also commenting on the inequalities in the country’s relationship with America. It is weird and wild. At times, it resembles Anime porn, at others crazy Japanese game shows. It contains an amusing homage to Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange. It is a brilliantly mind-bending climax to an amazing collection of short films.
If you enjoy your horror gory, surreal and insane I would absolutely recommend this film to you.