The ABCs of Death Blu-ray Review
Ask the suits at Spike TV how many ways there are to die and they would probably say 1,000. Ask the producers of THE ABCS OF DEATH and they would say 26—with the possibility of 52, should the movie do well.
THE ABCS OF DEATH is comprised of 26 segments, all designated by the letters of the alphabet: “A is for Apocalypse,” “B is for Bigfoot,” “C is for Cycle,” “D is for Dogfight,” “E is for Exterminate,” “F is for Fart,” “G is for Gravity,” “H is for Hydro-Electric Diffusion,” “I is for Ingrown,” “J is for Jidai-geki,” “K is for Klutz,” “L is for Libido,” “M is for Miscarriage,” “N is for Nuptials,” “O is for Orgasm,” “P is for Pressure,” “Q is for Quack,” “R is for Removed,” “S is for Speed,” “T is for Toilet,” “U is for Unearthed,” “V is for Vagitus,” “W is for WTF!,” “X is for XXL,” “Y is for Youngbuck,” and “Z is for Zetsumetsu.”
The project came together when Drafthouse Films and producers Ant Timpson and Tim League enlisted 26 international directors (hailing from America, Canada, China, England, France, Japan, Spain, and many more in between) and assigned them each a letter of the alphabet. (The sole exception was Lee Hardcastle, whose claymation “T” entry was a contest winner.) The filmmakers were given complete freedom in the subject matter and approach, which is one of the reasons some of the chapters are so over-the-top.
Another is that the majority of the directors, regardless of talent (some, like Angela Bettis—best known for her turn in 2003’s MAY—and the aforementioned Hardcastle, prove themselves; others, like Noboru Iguch—director of movies with titles like KARATE-ROBO ZABORGAR and HYPERTROPHY GENITALS GIRL—don’t), are less concerned about making truly effective horror shorts than they are one-upping their colleagues. As a result, this is a movie brimming with endless gore, vomit, penetration, masturbation, impalements, hackings, strangulations, maulings, electrocution, explosions, beheadings, infections, disfigured men, alternate selves, lesbians, spiders, talking birds, strap-ons, and—why not?—farts.
Like most anthology movies, THE ABCS OF DEATH is a lopsided effort. Very few, like those for “D” (by Marcel Sarmiento) and “Q” (a clever meta-entry by Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett), stand out, while too many, like those for “F,” “K,” “L,” “X,” and “Z,” are pathetic. Some of the shorts may have been more effective as standalone works instead of a part of package deal with lesser efforts. The whole project itself may have served well as a web series, with an episode revealed every week. As it stands, the A, B and C may as well stand for Awful, Brainless and Clumsy.
THE ABCs OF DEATH BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: 1.78:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. As each of the directors has a different stylistic approach and so the overall look of this Blu-ray is hit-and-miss, with some shorts offering excellent detail and others coming off soft.
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. Subtitles in English and Spanish. The same goes for the audio, which does little to enhance the quality of many of the shorts.
Filmmaker Commentary: Each of the directors (as well as some various other crew members) sits down to discuss their respective contributions to THE ABCS OF DEATH.
There is also a large collection of featurettes devoted to more than half of the shorts. They are: “A is for Apocalypse”: Oil Burns Visual Effects (1:10), “B is for Bigfoot”: Making Of (2:56), “C is for Cycle”: Deleted Scenes (3:28), “D is for Dogfight”: Making Of (6:57), “F is for Fart”: Behind the Scenes (9:46), “H is for Hydro-Electric Diffusion”: Behind the Scenes (6:40), The Making of Bertie the Bulldog & Frau Scheese (4:47) and Finished Short vs. Behind the Scenes (6:44), “I is for Ingrown”: Making Of (6:43), “J is for Jidai-geki”: Behind the Scenes (6:30), “P is for Pressure”: Interviews (18:48), “R is for Removed”: Behind the Scenes Photo Gallery, “T is for Toilet”: Behind the Scenes (3:04), “V is for Vagitus”: Behind the Scenes (13:32) and Animatics (5:01), “W is for WTF”: Behind the Scenes (7:44), Bonus Flubs! (3:01) and Star-Beast Outtakes (2:19), and “Z is for Zetsumetsu”: Behind the Scenes (11:07).
AXS TV: A Look at THE ABCS OF DEATH (4:16) looks at how the anthology movie came about and how the various directors approached the idea.