31 Fright Nights: Halloween 2016, Night #15 – The ABC’s of Death (2012)

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Tagline: 26 Directors. 26 Ways to Die.

Director: Various

Writer(s): Various

Studio: Drafthouse Films/Magnet Releasing

Budget: Unknown

Box Office: $21, 832

Release Date: 31st January, 2013

IMDb Rating: 4.7/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 35%

UK Blu Ray release? Yes

Cast

Various – Too many to mention!

Trailer

Plot According to Google: An anthology of stories helmed by more than two dozen directors details 26 ways to die, each corresponding to a different letter of the alphabet.

Inertia’s Insight: Anthology horror has found life as of late with the Video On Demand platform providing a stable opportunity for low budget horror to reach a wide audience. With the creative freedom and limitless ability to push the boundaries, The ABC’s of Death has assembled some of the best directors from mainstream and B-movie horror to produce twenty six of the scariest, strangest, freakiest, weirdest, gruesome and most outrageous short films ever committed to screen.

To wade through the film without specific focus on each of the short films would do it a disservice. As irritating, brilliant, offensive and down right weird some of the films are, they are all the sum of their parts and such should be looked at individually, but briefly.

A is for Apocalypse: A woman enters the bedroom of a man laid up in bed seemingly from a cold. She tries to kill him using a knife, then scolding hot oil and a frying pan. Eventually she concedes defeat, admitting that she has slowly tried to poison him for months but now she has ran out of time. She sits next to him on the bed as outside the sound of sirens rises, and an earthly rumble that signals the end of the world…

It’s a shocking opener to the anthology, the assault on the man both barbaric and without warning. It throws you into the menacing world of this horror anthology, leaving you gasping to know what is emerging just outside the window.

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B is for Bigfoot: A young girl is taught the myth of the Bigfoot, who comes to eat children who stay up past 8 o’ clock. She is told the fable by her Uncle in order that he can get his leg over, but he gets more than he bargained for when a new vision of Bigfoot tears through their living room and them…

It’s a decent enough premise and one that does well to envisage Bigfoot as a modern day image that we can all say we’ve laid eyes on.

C is for Cycle: A man finds himself caught in a loop via a hole in his garden bush, as he stalks what appears to be another version of himself.

This short is perfection, it is the ideal way to craft an impeccable narrative in such a short space of time. It does it fluidly and with ease, and had me gripped throughout.

D is for Dogfight: A man and a dog fight in an underground fighting ring.

A visually stunning short film that plays all of the action in slow-motion. It looks incredible, and the music is a perfect accompaniment.

E is for Exterminate: A man hunts a nuisance spider in his house, only to have it turn against him.

Bit of a naff one, this; it didn’t do anything for me and on a second viewing I could easily skip it.

F is for Fart: A young woman who is obsessed with her teacher gets holed up after a deadly gas attack. Knowing she is going to die, she breathes in her teacher’s fart, becoming part of her.

Completely wacky and utter nonsense, it is a completely passable segment that only needs to be seen once to appreciate how ridiculous it is.

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G is for Gravity: A man takes his surfboard out to see. With a GoPro strapped to his head, he goes out and commits suicide.

It’s an odd one, this. You don’t quite know what to expect, you’re almost looking out for something in the water to come towards him until you realise, slowly, that the only death occurring is a result of his own doing. Unsettling stuff.

H is for Hydro-Electric Diffusion: A humanoid dog is taken by and subsequently tortured by a female Nazi dog. He escapes her clutches and eventually manages to electrocute her.

Another weird one. The design and make-up of the creatures is fantastic but the concept and the execution (literally) is completely oddball.

I is for Ingrown: A woman’s internal monologue is heard as we see her being killed.

This is a really difficult one to watch. The brutal imagery, coupled with the upsetting narrative makes for an unsettling short horror film that hits all the right notes.

J is for Jidai-geki (Samurai movie): A man committing the age-old traditional disemboweling Seppuku has an agonising wait for his assistant to decapitate him.

Yet another oddball from the Japanese world of film, the imagery here is somewhat amusing if not the cause for a lot of confusion: you don’t really know what’s happening until the end.

K is for Klutz: An animated short in which a woman is stalked in the toilet by her recently vacated stool.

The animation is impressive and for the most part this is a childish comic laugh at poo, but the ending leaves it bleak and somewhat sad.

L is for Libido: A sexual contest between two chained men, in which they must masturbate to some horrendous scenes. The first person to ‘finish’ wins, the other dies…

This short is incredibly difficult to watch. At first entertaining, it quickly delves into a dark and twisted world in which nothing is off limits. One act is particularly difficult to watch, but the genius is in the suggestion of the direction as opposed to what is actually shown. A lot like Martyrs, its hard to watch.

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M is for Miscarriage: A woman miscarries whilst on the toilet.

Another one that’s difficult to stomach, the hardest thing being the way in which the woman handles the situation.

N is for Nuptials: A man’s new talking bird reveals a lot more to his fiancée than he intended.

A comic and entertaining segment, whilst though forgettable in the mix of other films is still entertaining none the less.

O is for Orgasm: A man and woman have passionate but dangerous sex.

Another short film that proves the power of limited time, Orgasm is a fantastically visual film. Suggestive and sexual, this short inter-cuts scenes of passion with titillating imagery to effective result.

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P is for Pressure: A Mother, desperate to feed her kids, agrees to star in a crush film.

Another short that embraces its limitations, Pressure features little dialogue and is a fast-cut film in which the imagery is stitched together in a frenetic fashion, leading you to wonder at which point the death will occur. And when it does, though it’s not what you expect, it has much the same effect.

Q is for Quack: Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett, the filmmakers assigned the letter Q, decide to make their film a real snuff film by killing a duck, but it doesn’t quite work out for them…

Though it feels like a rushed short, the ingeniously twisted sense of humour of director Adam Wingard is the highlight of this film, and also light enough to free you from the horrors you’ve seen before, and also what is to come.

R is for Removed: A man’s skin is used to make 35mm film.

Focusing heavily on special effects, this oddly genius short film features a man who’s skin has the ability to be the receiver of imagery like celluloid film. Used and abused for his purposes he sets about getting revenge, including a brilliant scene where fashions a bullet from his own skin. Odd but entertaining.

S is for Speed: A woman and her kidnapped victim try to out-run a demon-faced stalker.

Straight out of B-movie heaven is this short by British director Jake West. Clad in skin-tight sexy outfits, with a heavy metal car in the American desert, they try to outrun a mysterious and constant pursuer. The genius of this short is the revelation at the end, both sad and reflective of the film’s actual title.

T is for Toilet: A young boy who is scared of going to the toilet soon discovers his fears of the loo are true.

A brilliant clay stop-motion short that is heavy on imagery and sound, it’s a darkly comic tale of every child’s night-time fear of going to the toilet, and the brutal ending leaves you wondering whether to laugh or cry.

U is for Unearthed: The POV perspective of a vampire being hunted in the dead of the night by a village mob.

The terrific Ben Wheatley embraces the POV perspective of a creature of the night being chased and killed by an angry mob. It’s quick, with scene stealing moments and a finale that is both bloody and brilliant.

V is for Vagitus: In a futuristic world, women must apply to the Government for permission to procreate. In an abandoned warehouse, a group of outcasts fight to protect their child.

Verging on sci-fi with core horror elements, this impressive short features some genuinely disturbing imagery, particularly with that of the child. It’s a unique tale in this already unique mish-mash of short films.

W is for WTF!: As the filmmakers decide what to do for the letter W, a series of almost subliminal images fly across the screen.

Literally, what the fuck.

X is for XXL: A French woman is taunted by several people on her way home for being overweight, and so decides to deal with her weight in her own way.

A stunning and often difficult to watch short, it is a perfectly crafted film in which a woman’s desperate need to be accepted sees her drastically alter her appearance to grisly, gruesome effect.

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Z is for Zetsumetsu (Extinction): Japan’s relationship with the West is seen in a bizarre series of visual encounters.

The last in what feels like a long line of fucked up Japanese shorts, featuring gigantic prosthetic penises with swords attached, profound nudity and sexual suggestion, and murder to the highest degree. Not an impressive short.

Overall I would have to say that my top three are C is for Cycle, I is for Ingrown and X is for XXL. The worst, hands down, is F for Fart, a ridiculous entry that serves no entertaining purpose.

An anthology of horror that features so many films over two hours is apt to feel misguided or forgettable, but the standout moments – both good and bad – make this film a triumph for the world of horror.

The ABC’s of Death 2 is an even better round of superb shorts – if you’re only going to watch one, watch Z for Zygote, an impeccable short horror film that makes the whole series of shorts before it look like Youtube spots.

Inertia’s Ideal Score (* out of 5): * * * *

Trivia

  • The opening shot of each of the 26 films features the camera panning away from something red.
  • Two teachers have been convicted in America for showing the film to minors.

Quotes

MUM: Honey, you go do a poo-poo. There’s nothing to be afraid of.
DAD: Danny Glover had nothing to worry about in Lethal Weapon 2.

YOSHIE: Miss Yumi and I both have the same kind of animal smell on the inside. I’m so happy.

All images courtesy of Google.


Tomorrow: Night #16 – Psycho (1960)

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