The ABCs of Death 2 Blu-ray Review
As someone who enjoys a good horror movie, I’m generally not that surprised when I hear that yet another horror movie is being turned into a franchise, hence the inevitable sequel. Still, despite the ongoing status of so many horror franchises, the quality tends to vary greatly and often results in an experience more akin to a bad acid trip/hallucination than a narrative. THE ABCS OF DEATH (2012) was exactly this type of movie, a horribly uneven collection of short films utilizing the alphabet and various filmmakers as a medium to convey, often gory bordering on the grotesque, many potential means of passing from this earthly plane.
THE ABCS OF DEATH 2 is the inevitable sequel, though it would perhaps be more correct to call it a spiritual successor to the original film released just two years ago. I understand that movies like this are a virtual inevitability, filmmaking is a business after all. And I am thankful for production companies like Alamo Drafthouse. Still, THE ABCS OF DEATH 2 feels far more ridiculous, somehow, than even the first collection of short films. Probably the coolest thing about THE ABCS OF DEATH 2 is the beautiful way in which the films are strewn together. A smart and stylish bit of animation that introduces and finalizes each short.
THE ABCS OF DEATH 2, the second collection of 26 short films from directors around the world, moves quickly when it works but staggers to a halt when it doesn’t (the majority of the time). Still, as a curiosity the film does have some merit. Short films are not something American audiences get to see often and the gonzo nature of this collection can be thrilling when it isn’t outright disgusting, which is far too often.
The ABCS OF DEATH 2 features the following shorts: A is for Amateur; B is for Badger; C is for Capital Punishment; D is for Deloused, E is for Equilibrium; F is for Falling; G is for Grandad; H is for Head Games; I is for Invincible; J is for Jesus; K is for Knell; L is for Legacy; M is for Masticate; O is for Ochlocracy (mob rule); P is for P-P-P-P SCARY!; Q is for Questionnaire; R is for Roulette; S is for Split; T is for Torture Porn; U is for Utopia; V is for Vacation; W is for Wish; X is for Xylophone; Y is for Youth; Z is for Zygote. The filmmakers for each story are different, coming from all around the world. The filmmaking styles are as eclectic as the titles but so is the quality.
Instead of feeling like a fully realized feature film, THE ABCS OF DEATH 2 plays like a collection of awful student films at its best or, at its worst, a very-tongue-in-check way to poke fun at the very audience they are trying to woo. In the end, THE ABCS OF DEATH 2 isn’t going to bring any new viewers into the fold but it will likely please the core viewers who greatly enjoyed the original. Still, it is an interesting look into the world of filmmaking we rarely get to see in traditional features. The fact that they gave such freedom to filmmakers is incredibly fascinating to me… though any viewer could see that it creates some huge issues in the telling. THE ABCS OF DEATH 2 is a staggering a dull feature, a Kubrick-ian entry without the beauty, and a general waste of time.
Video: (1080p Widescreen 2.40:1) The video for THE ABCS OF DEATH 2 varies greatly from story to story, from the interesting to entirely incoherent.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) Audio quality, like picture, varies greatly throughout THE ABCS OF DEATH 2 and is not a strong point of the Blu-ray package.
Filmmaker Commentary (02:02:16) Producers Art Timson and Tim League (CEO of Drafthouse) team up to provide the overarching commentary structure and fill in to provide commentary on shorts where the director, etc. was apparently unavailable. As a purely academic endeavor (the reason everyone watches THE ABCS OF DEATH 2, I’m sure) this commentary is one of the most interesting tracks I’ve heard, thanks primarily to the incredible range of filmmakers who conduct them. The commentaries are uneven but in general are a real look into the world of indie filmmaking. Highly recommended (much more than the film).
Short Film Specific Special Features: THE ABCS OF DEATH 2 features a wide array of behind the scenes special features (both video and stills) focused on nearly every short in the film.
- A is for Amateur: Making Of (05:01) This short featurette focuses on the air duct sequence and is presented by producer Don Lee.
- D is for Deloused: Meet the Puppets (02:08) An introduction to the puppets used in this gory and disgusting animated short.
- E is for Equilibrium: Behind the Scenes (02:36) A brief ‘making-of’ feature, pretty standard fair.
- L is for Legacy: Behind the Scenes (03:35) This feature focuses on the monster at the center of the short.
- N is for Nexus
- Making Of: Day One of Twelve (03:59) This feature focuses on the director and follows him through the first day on set.
- On the Set Photo Gallery
- Q is for Questionnaire
- Make-up & FX: Brain (00:19) Almost too short to be worth it.
- Questionnaire Storyboards
- S is for Split: Behind the Scenes (05:03) This one covers a lot of ground including the makeup and stunts.
- T is for Torture Porn: Making Of (28:44) This one is every bit as over-the-top as the movie it follows.
- U is for Utopia
- Behind the Scenes (09:11) The crew documents their work on location at Vaughan City Hall in Ontario.
- Audition (01:50) The lead actor’s audition.
- Utopia Storyboards
- W is for Wish: Making Of (05:16)
- Y is for Youth
- Making Of (19:35) this feature is presented in Japanese and gives some background to the
- Youth Storyboards
- Z is for Zygote: The 55th Trimester (06:06) This feature focuses on the body suit/special effects for this final short film.
Additionally a Production Stills Gallery is available for each of the following shorts: C is for Capital Punishment; D is for Deloused; U is for Utopia.
Behind the Scenes Photo Gallery is available for each of the following: E is for Equilibrium; F is for Falling; I is for Invincible; J is for Jesus; L is for Legacy; O is for Ochlocracy (mob rule); Q is for Questionnaire; R is for Roulette; S is for Split; T is for Torture Porn; V is for Vacation; W is for Wish; Y is for Youth.
AXS TV: A Look at THE ABCS OF DEATH 2 (02:23) AXS TV tends to put terrible Making Of featurettes on their Blu-rays. The one on THE ABCS OF DEATH 2 isn’t any better though it at least isn’t just the trailer with a couple of interview snippets.