The ABCs of Death (2012)

Crimson Quill’s Appraisal #100

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Number of Views: Multiple
Release Date: March 8, 2013 Sub Genre: Horror Anthology
Country of Origin: United States, New Zealand, Japan
Box-Office: $21,832
Running Time: 124 minutes
Director: Various
Producers: Ant Timpson, Tim League
Screenplay: Various
Special Make-Up Effects: Chris Wirth, Lino Stavole, Steinar Kaarstein
Cinematography: Various
Score: Various
Editing: Various
Studio: Drafthouse Films, Timpson Films
Distributor: Magnet Releasing, Monster Pictures (UK)
Stars: Kyra Zagorsky, Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, Michael Smiley, Neil Maskell, Erik Aude, Michael Rogers, Jeremy Raymond, Elisabeth Rosen, Iván González, Iván González, G. Patrick Currie, Peter Pedrero, Arisa Nakamura, Dallas Malloy, Sarah Bonrepaux, Fraser Corbett, Robin Hill, Johnson Phan, Darenzia, Daniel Bacon, M@tch, Laurie Rose, Lee Hardcastle, Sissi Duparc, Tilly Gaunt, Matías Oviedo, Hiroko Yashiki, Hiroko Yashiki, Lucy Clements, Harold Torres, Juanita Ringeling, Steve Berens, Joshua Diolosa, Takashi Nishina, Takashi Nishina, Alejandra Urdiaín, Je$$ica, Seminosuke Murasugi, Chems Dahmani, Daisuke Sasaki, Demo Tanaka, Miquel Insua, Miquel Insua, Seth Ranaweera, Eva Llorach, Yui Murata, Manon Beuchot, Arata Yamanaka, Rylan Logan, Vanja Lazin, Hiroaki Murakami, Hiroaki Murakami, Kurumi Ochiai, Greg De Cuir, Naoko Takahashi, Brenden J. McVeigh, Tomomi Sugai, Kim Richardson, Pablo Guisa Koestinger, Greta Martinez, Honoka Murakami, Yoshio Komatsu, Martine Årnes Sørensen, Tsuyoshi Kazuno, Simon Smith, Hozake Yamada, Xavier Magot, Atsushi Hiroki, George Marquez, George Marquez, Katsuyuki Miyake, Chris Hampton, Casey Andrews, Leo Dowd, Sadashi Matsubayashi and Riley the Dog

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Suggested Audio Candy

Power Glove “Vengeance”

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As frequently stated by Keeper, anthologies can be difficult to pull off with any conviction. Nine times from ten, one segment falls short of the benchmark and it can be a perplexing endeavor binding the portions together with cohesion. This is normally achieved via what is known as a wraparound; a common theme acting as a linchpin, maintaining stability throughout. Again, a tough ask considering the way it traditionally punctuates the subdivisions with five minute interludes. When a feature like The ABCs of Death arrives, its work is well and truly cut out.

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Imagine if you will an episode of Sesame Street where today’s letter is all twenty six; that’s quite a juggling act and I would imagine only amphetamines could prevent Cookie Monster from buckling under the intense weight resting on his shoulders and, before any smart ass points out, Keeper is quite aware he doesn’t possess any thank you very much. My point is, it is a gargantuan undertaking to mesh so many different interpretations into one unified whole.

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On the other hand and the way I perceive it, this offers up a unique set of possibilities. Firstly, these wildly varying vignettes keep the bloated 124 minute running time remarkably brisk, never outstaying their welcome, maintaining the velocity and not permitting the viewer to become jaded. This is, of course, a double-edged sword as it also becomes hard to adulate a movie as fragmented as this. However as there is such a limited time for each director to make their mark, if one piece fails to enthuse then it’s simply on to the next, no questions asked. Secondly, by using global collaborators there is swollen potential for distinction. This theorem is proven by the distinct flavor of some of the more obscure entries, particularly those originating in the Far East.

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But for Keeper, by far the most compelling component concerns the appeal of such a celebration of just a sliver of the raw aptitude out there. Were all 26 ever going to prosper? Of course not, it’s just not feasible. But the odds are in its favor, the ability to dip in and out of this grue-filled sauna of salaciousness make for an exceptionally stimulating proposition.

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Where to start? I guess alphabetically would make the most sense so with that I shall dip my quill. Keeper will not be providing spoilers, that would be mean-spirited, not the way I wish to treat my darling Grueheads. Instead, as always the intimate connection will be explored and a score out of five garnered for each of the 26 segments in turn. That is the final benefit a commission such as this has at its disposal; there are not many more deliciously debatable pieces of celluloid out there.

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Allegiances will be formed; conference will invariably be impassioned and therein lays the beauty of a project such as The ABCs. Folk may bitch about The Matrix trilogy and its descent from grace, or cite that Kill Bill Part 2 lost its way (poppycockus absolutus) but as long as they spark such passionate debate, then these features are in no danger of being forgotten. It’s all ultimately subjective and my analysis is just one, admittedly sophisticated, estimation. So in true Sesame style, our alphabet awaits…

The A thru Zs

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A is for Apocalypse (directed and written by Nacho Vigalondo) 4/5
B is for Bigfoot (directed and written by Adrian Garcia Bogliano) 3/5
C is for Cycle (directed and written by Ernesto Diaz Espinoza) 4/5
D is for Dogfight (directed and written by Marcel Sarmiento) 4/5
E is for Exterminate (directed and written by Angela Bettis) 3/5
F is for Fart (directed and written by Noboru Iguchi) 3/5
G is for Gravity (directed and written by Andrew Traucki) 4/5
H is for Hydro-Electric Diffusion (directed and written by Thomas Malling) 4/5
I is for Ingrown (directed and written by Jorge Michel Grau) 2/5
J is for Jidai-geki (Samurai Movie) (directed and written by Yûdai Yamaguchi) 3/5
K is for Klutz (directed and written by Anders Morgenthaler) 3/5
L is for Libido (Directed and written by Timo Tjahjanto) 5/5
M is for Miscarriage (directed and written by Ti West) 2/5
N is for Nuptials (directed and written by Banjong Pisanthanakun) 2/5
O is for Orgasm (directed and written by Bruno Forzani & Héléne Cattet) 3/5
P is for Pressure (directed and written by Simon Rumley) 2/5
Q is for Quack (directed and written by Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett) 3/5
R is for Removed (directed and written by Srdjan Spasojevic) 2/5
S is for Speed (directed and written by Jake West) 4/5
T is for Toilet (directed and written by Lee Hardcastle) 4/5
U is for Unearthed (directed and written by Ben Wheatley) 3/5
V is for Vagitus (The Cry of a Newborn Baby) (directed and written by Kaare Andrews) 3/5
W is for WTF! (directed and written by Jon Schnepp) 3/5
X is for XXL (directed and written by Xavier Gens) 5/5
Y is for Youngbuck (directed and written by Jason Eisener) 5/5
Z is for Zetsumetsu (Extinction) (directed and written by Yoshihiro Nishimura) 4/5

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All in all I’d say that The ABCs of Death is a reasonably prosperous experiment. Each of us will have our darlings and some vignettes will simply leave us flaccid. The eastern offerings show the breadth of the divide between East and West and, almost without fail, are the most erotically charged. Each chosen contributor had $5,000 at their disposal and some really made that stretch. It is fascinating to see just how varied each segment is from the last and, despite sagging  little in the middle portion, the ABCs gets it pretty much on the money as a cohesive whole.

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Each letter is stylistically presented and production values are evidently high in weaving the 26ers together. It would be ludicrous to suggest that all will resonate but that’s the great thing about having a subjective view. One thing Keeper can state fairly comprehensively however is that y’all will find it hard to truly take this piece to your hearts. I may well choose to relive the joys of L is for Lust or Y is for Youngbuck on regular occasions but I question whether I will ever view it again as a complete piece of art. 124 minutes is some ask and even Sesame Street kept it to one letter daily after all.

Crimson Quills Judgement: 7/10

Grue Factor:  5/5

For the Grue-Guzzlers & Pelt-Nuzzlers: This is no easy feat… sliced feelers, scalded faces, frying pan swipes, dog bites, cannibalistic latrines, drowning, throttling, beheading, death by flatulence, hollowing, nips, tucks, stiletto crushes, murderous feces, ominous games of thrones, arachnid swallowing, phallic switchblade severing…it really is all here multiplied by 26. In addition, The ABCs of Death piles on the tits and clits like they’re going out of vogue.  There’s a fine line between  erotica and horror, and this walks it with steel-tapped clodhoppers on. Z is for Zetsumetsu provides the ultimate indignity and you will be battling your own erection by the time our flaxen haired naked nihilistic neo-Nazi has waved her serating schlong across our stupid grinning faces. You try not finding it faintly arousing and, should you achieve this, then you’re a better man than I am.

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Read A Dozen Deadly Delights #5: The ABCs of Death

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Richard Charles Stevens

Keeper of The Crimson Quill

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