ABCs Of Death 2 (2014)
The first ABCs Of Death in 2012 was one of the biggest horror events of the year, maybe even the decade. The big daddy of all horror anthologies, rather than the usual three or four segments that anthologies such as Creepshow and the Amicus classics gave us, this one would have 26, A to Z with all stories following the same theme of death, keeping it at a few minutes each, all packed into a movie two hours long. 26 directors for all corners of the globe, some well-known in the horror world and some newcomers looking to use this project to springboard their careers. That movie was met with mixed reviews, some loved it and some hated it but in the end it was successful enough to get a sequel. Since it was 26 different stories by different directors with different styles I think it was a given that not every segment would please everyone, some people may have liked all 26, some may have liked half and others may have hated all of them. I myself liked about half of them but I still enjoyed most of the rest for what they were, I only really disliked 2 or 3. Now onto the sequel, as I find it hard to give an in-depth review on a short that is a few minutes long I will try to give some info and my thoughts on all 26 segments without giving too much away....
A is for Amateur (directed by E.L. Katz)
Last year's hit 'Cheap Thrills' was E.L. Katz' first turn behind the camera and this is his second, before that he made a name for himself writing movies such as Home Sick and Pop Skull
( Both 2007) and Autopsy (2008) which I really enjoyed.
A is for Amateur is a story about a hit man on a job that goes drastically wrong with gruesome but hilarious results.
Andy Nyman stars in this, better known for cult hits such as Severance, Black Death and the Channel 4 zombie series Dead Set. This segment was hilarious and one of my favourites, I spat my tea out watching it.
B is for Badger (directed by Julian Barratt)
Julian Barratt is a former stand-up comedian, now better known as an actor for his roles in the tv series The Mighty Boosh and last year’s Ben Wheatley film A Field In England. This is only his third time directing having done a couple of shorts before. He also stars in this segment as a stuck up David Attenborough wannabe who gets his comeuppance after treating his camera crew like shit. This was another one of my favourite segments that I nearly pissed myself laughing to.
C is for Capital Punishment (directed by Julian Gilbey)
Julian Gilbey has directed a few films before this, most notably Rise Of The Foot Soldier and A Lonely Place To Die.
This segment was a major change of pace, bringing the tempo and the humour down very low and dark. Shocking more than anything else and the gore is fantastic - it will leave your jaw (along with the rest of your head) on the floor.
D is for Deloused (directed by Robert Morgan)
Robert Morgan has been making short films since 1997, The Cat With Hands (2001) and The Separation (2003) being some of his better known work. His use of mixing Claymation, animation and other styles gives his films a very distinctive look.
D is for Deloused is definitely one of the weirdest segments in the whole collection but a crazy short ride and a visual treat. Imagine Hellraiser told in Claymation and you'll get the idea...
E is for Equilibrium (Alejandro Brugues)
Alejandro Brugues is an Argentinian director best known for his 2011 zom-com 'Juan Of The Dead' which was an international hit and Cuba's first zombie film. His segment here wasn't one of my favourites but it was fairly funny. It would have made a great beer commercial and as a lover of beer and funny beer commercials I mean that in the nicest way possible.
F is for Falling (directed by Aharon Keshales & Navot Papushado)
These are two Israeli directors who have bright futures ahead of them. After bursting onto the scene in 2010 with their debut film Kalevet aka Rabies and then followed it up in 2013 with Big Bad Wolves, a movie which Quentin Tarantino says was his favourite of the year. F is for Falling didn't rely on comedy, gore or shock value like most of the other segments and it is a far more personal story than the rest as it deals with the conflict in the director's own country. For that and being so different from the rest I applaud them.
G is for Grandad (directed by Jim Hosking)
So far Jim Hosking has directed a few short films and the TV mini-series Privado starring Neil Maskell.
G is for Grandad is disturbing, gross, gory and hilarious. It'll definitely teach you to respect your elders!
H is for Head Games (directed by Bill Plympton)
Bill Plympton is an animator and filmmaker from the US and has made dozen of his own animated shorts since the seventies. He also worked on the animation for a few episodes of The Simpsons. Honestly this segment didn't really do it for me but it was short and sweet and had some crazy weird animation so will undoubtedly appeal to fans of Plympton's work and that kind of stuff.
I is for Invincible (directed by Erik Matti)
Erik Matti is a director from The Philippines who's previous films include Pa-Siyam(2004), Tiktik:The Aswang Chronicles(2012), On The Job(2013) and many others. This was by far one of the most enjoyable segments and to me felt like what an Asian Evil Dead remake would be like. Great make-up FX, nice gore and a funny story - I'm definitely going to check out this director's previous work.
J is for Jesus (directed by Dennison Ramalho)
Although he has worked on mostly shorts, Dennison Ramalho did work as Chief Assistant Director for Jose Mojica Marins aka Coffin Joe on his 2008 film Embodiment Of Evil, that alone should be an honour and a privilege for an horror fan. While I’m not sure if his segment was pro-religion or anti-religion (hanging out with Coffin Joe I assume it's the latter) one thing is for sure, it’s a balls out gory tale of demonic possession that holds nothing back. I'd really like to see Ramalho make a feature length movie in the future, perhaps with a cameo from Coffin Joe himself.
K is for Knell (directed by Kristina Buozyte & Bruno Samper)
Buozyte and Samper are two Lithuanians who previously worked on the films Vanishing Waves, Park '79 and Kolekcioniere together. Vanishing Waves is a film that’s been on my 'to watch list' for ages and after watching their segment K is for Knell I want to see it even more. Like J-horror meets The Twilight Zone with the sense of impending doom on overload, my only complaint is that it wasn't long enough and almost played out like the beginning of a feature length epic horror film. Definitely two filmmakers I’ll be keeping an eye on.
L is for Legacy (directed by Lancelot Oduwa Imasuen)
Lancelot Imasuen is a Nigerian director better known for making films such as Games Women Play (2005), Critical Decision (2004) and dozens of others in his native country. L is for Legacy is an enjoyable African creature feature and one of the more memorable segments.
M is for Masticate (directed by Robert Boocheck)
Having directed mostly commercials and music videos, Rob Boocheck is best known for directing the VH1 mockumentary "Rock Legends: Platinum Weird" starring Dan Akroyd, Mick Jagger, Elton John, Ringo Starr and lots of other celebrities. M is for Masticate is definitely shot like a music video, like a 90s-00s rock video except you won’t be seeing anything like this on VH1 anytime soon. It’s a slow-motion rampage of a crazed fat guy on bath salts as he thunders down a street biting people and destroying everything in his path - I really enjoyed this one.
N is for Nexus (directed by Larry Fessenden)
Larry Fessenden has been in the indie horror scene since the late seventies producing and directing many films and acting in even more gaining a bit of a cult status for him. Directing films such as Habit, Wendigo and last year’s creature feature Beneath, his 2006 film The Last Winter is my favourite. N is for Nexus is an enjoyable segment and perfect for this time of year as its set on Halloween. It would also make a great driving safety video and might even do for people getting behind the wheel what Jaws did for people going in water.
O is for Ochlocracy (directed by Hajime Ohata)
Hajime Ohata is a Japanese director whose previous work includes the short films The Big Gun (2008), Metamorphosis (2011) and this years' Kataribe. Interestingly enough he was also one of the 26 directors that took part in Japan's answer to The ABCs Of Death - Fool Japan: The ABCs Of Tetsudan which was released earlier this year. His segment here is a typical crazy Japanese zombie short which will surely please fans of 'Sushi Typhoon' and the films of insane director Yoshihiro Nishimura, who actually did the make-up effects for this segment as well!
P is for P-P-P-P-Scary! (Directed by Todd Rohal)
Todd Rohal is known for directing some crazy shorts as well as feature length films such as The Guatemalan Handshake (2006), The Catechism Cataclysm (2011) and the 2012 comedy Nature Calls which starred the likes of Johnny Knoxville, Patton Oswalt and Rob Riggle. I haven't seen any of his previous work but if it’s anything like his segment here it'll be full of odd very dark humor. Think if O Brother, Where Art Thou was directed by David Lynch and you might get where I'm coming from.
Q is for Questionnaire (directed by Rodney Ascher)
Rodney Ascher directed short films such as Visions Of Terror, The Lonely Death Of The Giggler and The S From Hell to name just a few. He's better known for taking part in the 2012 documentary Room 237 which explores all the crazy stories and conspiracy theories involved in the making of Stanley Kubrick's The Shining. His segment had some gore in it but wasn't really my cup of tea.
R is for Roulette (directed by Marvin Kren)
Marvin Kren is an Austrian/German (not sure which, sorry) director who made the criminally underrated 2010 zombie film Rammbock aka Berlin Undead. He also directed last years' Blood Glacier which I haven't seen yet but will soon as I hear from several sources it "has shades of John Carpenter's The Thing". His segment tells the story of 3 Germans hiding out in a basement during World War 2 as the world above them falls apart; with one bullet between them they play Russian roulette to see who gets the easy way out and who gets to stay behind to face whatever is outside trying to get in. I really enjoyed this segment, good story and it was shot beautifully.
S is for Split (directed by Juan Martinez Moreno)
Juan Martinez Moreno is a Spanish writer/director who previously made the 2009 crime thriller A Good Man and the 2011 comedy horror Game Of Werewolves, also known as Attack Of The Werewolves in Ireland and The UK. His segment S is for Split is a tense home invasion story with a twist ending that will have you picking your jaw up off the floor.
T is for Torture Porn (directed by Jen & Sylvia Soska)
Sylvia & Jen Soska aka The Twisted Twins gained a cult following with their 2009 feature debut Dead Hooker In A Trunk and their 2012 hit American Mary. Their segment T is for Torture Porn is the gruesome tale of a sleazy porn audition that goes wrong. It clearly draws inspiration from H.P. Lovecraft with shades of John Carpenter's The Thing in the best way possible. Conor Sweeney of Astron 6 fame stars along with scream queen Tristan Risk. Everyone involved puts in great performances, cool story and over the top gore makes this one of my favourite segments.
U is for Utopia (directed by Vincenzo Natali)
Vincenzo Natali is an American director best known for his films Cube (1997), Cypher (2002), Splice (2009) and last years' Haunter. He also directed a few episodes of TV’s Hannibal. U is for Utopia is a futuristic tale of terror done in Natali's signature style that will no undoubtedly please fans of his previous work or even fans of authors such as Isaac Asimov or Philip K. Dick.
V is for Vacation (directed by Jerome Sable)
Jerome Sable directed a good few shorts before making his feature film debut this year with Stage Fright, a musical slasher movie starring Meat Loaf and Minnie Driver. V is for Vacation is cautionary tale of a boy’s weekend gone wrong, one that tells you to choose your friends carefully but choose your holiday destinations even more carefully....
W is for Wish (directed by Steven Kostanski)
Steven Kostanski is a director and make-up artist better known as part of Astron 6, the group of filmmakers responsible for cult classics such as Father's Day, Manborg and the soon to be released The Editor. Ever sit at home as a kid in the 80s watching those cool commercials for action figures and wish you could leave your crappy life behind and go and help He-Man or the Thundercats defeat the forces of evil? Well that exactly what happens the kids in this story as their wish comes true and they become "Champions Of Zorb". An awesome segment that is dripping with cheese and nostalgia also has a cool cameo by the Soska sisters.
X is for Xylophone (directed by Julien Maury & Alexandre Bustillo)
Julien Maury & Alexandre Bustillo are the two French directors responsible for Inside (2007), Livid (2011) and Among The Living (2014). I also heard recently that they both signed on as directors of the new Texas Chainsaw Massacre prequel, which to be honest sounded like a terrible idea until I heard that they were on board. They're segment X is for Xylophone mixes the beautiful style of Livid and the shock value of Inside. A little girl annoys her babysitter (the always equally gorgeous and crazy Beatrice Dalle) until she finally reaches her breaking point, her parents arrive home to witness the horrifying and gory aftermath...
Y is for Youth (directed by Soichi Umezawa)
Soichi Umezawa is a Japanese special make-up effects artist who has previously works on films such as Tomie:Forbidden Fruit (2002), Tomie Vs Tomie (2007) and Alien Vs Ninja (2010).
His segment Y is for Youth is his first time directing and I think he did a good job with it. It's a typical crazy Japanese horror in the vein of Tokyo Gore Police, Meatball Machine etc. that tells a tale about the trials and tribulations of growing up.
Z is for Zygote (directed by Chris Nash)
Chris Nash is a special effects artist and director whose previous short films include Blackhead (2009), My Main Squeeze (2011) and Liplock (2011). He also directed the short T is for Thread which was an entry for the original ABCs Of Death. Z is for Zygote is a weird and over the top gory tale of motherhood and the hardship of letting go. It will surely please fans of body horror such as Brian Yuzna's Society and the earlier films of Cronenberg.
Overall I thought The ABCs Of Death 2 was very hit and miss just like its' predecessor but I enjoyed this one a lot more. My favourite letters were A,B,T,W and X but there was a lot of others that I really enjoyed. Also stick around till after the end credits for a cool extra scene directed by Jill Sixx featuring the star of her short film Call Girl and Human Centipede 2 Laurence R. Harvey.
I can't wait to see what directors will be involved in part 3 which is due out in 2016.