At the heart of the ABCs of Death series is something I absolutely cherish about horror cinema; the ability to take a short story and convey an idea that terrifies (or if we’re lucky grosses out). It strips out the bullshit ie all those love plots and pieces of character development that are wholly unnecessary to a good horror story. Horror shorts, anthology films and portmanteaus truly are my favorite way to watch horror fiction. From Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark to Stephen King’s Night Shift. From Dead of Night to Creepshow. Bite size stories to tell around a campfire or underneath the covers or to read on the beach, that’s the way to consume horror in small portions.
ABCs of Death was comprised of 26 filmmakers creating horror fiction based on a letter of the alphabet and the sequel follows suit. No wrap story just right on into the sequence, and I can assure you by the end of this one no one is singing, “next time won’t you sing with me”. They’re all dead. As I did with the first collection I will rate each movie individually and give either my approval, disapproval or my “what the fuck did I just watch”. ranking. Each will be color coded, and by the end I hope to have established a basic opinion for each of the stories and percentage of good to shit segments Without quantifying it, I will simply tell you that ABCs of Death 2 is superior to the original. It has more solid entries though there are plenty of stinkers too. Again, these are not full reviews of each of the shorts, and I expect you to watch the movie. These are just feelings; general opinions. Green is liked/loved it. Red is disliked it/hated it. Orange is what the fuck is this crazy shit? Check it out after the jump.
A is for Amateur – Eric Katz, executive producer of the TV show 24, takes a whole lot of what works in that series and transfers it to a hilarious tale of a hit gone wrong. It has a delicious false start and the maggots brings this one home visually and hits you right in the guts.
B is for Badger – The director of this one is Julian Barratt. I should know him from A Field in England, but I don’t because I haven’t seen that because I forgot to. This is a cheeky little tale in great fun with some solid gore. I truly never saw the twist coming. You’ll hate the “bad guy”. I think that’s important.
C is for Capital Punishment – Julian Gilbey heads up this one, the man behind A Lonely Place to Die. I plan on seeing that though this was not my favorite entry so far in to the ABCs. It’s a bit longwinded with some good gore (that’s the trend over the first three segments) and it’s watchable.
D is for Deloused – this is my favorite installment of the entire 26. Robert Morgan creates beautiful, Tool-video esque claymation with superior stop motion animation. I was sickened, intrigued and fascinated. I would watch a whole full length movie around this story.
E is for Equilibrium – Only so-so. I am unfamiliar with the filmmaker and the story actually didn’t grab me at all. I hate to be the valley girl in the room, but “I don’t get it”.
F is for Falling – The whole thing had my attention. The political message and allegory. The short is shot well, acted well… and goes nowhere. It flops out like a flaccid penis at the end, unable to be sucked to life or erection.
G is for Grandad – I mean, it’s no F is for Fart, but it’s pretty out there. Be ready for pubes. Be ready for nakedness that you will want to unsee. This is the over the top entry and the one that goes for a bit of humor in lieu of a gore scare. Shock em if you got em.
H is for Head Games – Ah the work of Bill Plympton returns to my eyes at last. I love The Tune, and I miss seeing his work on Liquid Television. It’s like a beautiful afghan blanket that you wrap your feet in to keep you warm when your trapped in a meatlocker. One of the best entries in the collection.
I is for Invincible – I absolutely understand the story, but the fire effects completely ruined this for me. It’s a real let down.
J is for Jesus – this one doesn’t work for the same reason that F is for Falling doesn’t work. I suppose it’s trying to take itself too seriously, and if you can get around that and enjoy the “big bad guy” then you’ll come out of it feeling simply blah about it rather than disliking it. Still there are some juicy bits in there too.
K is for Knell – A truly clever way to work the letter into the story. This reminds me of something that might have been taken out of Eraserhead, in color with even stranger Science Fiction overtones.
L is for Legacy – A fairly great story with some truly excellent creature/monster effects. This doesn’t break new ground, but it isn’t exactly ordinary either. I am unfamiliar with the filmmaker.
M is for Masticate – You knew that bath salts would make it into the ABCs some how. You just thought it would be under B. Not a bad entry at all. Good fun with a great skin rip effect. Quite funny.
N is for Nexus – I love the old school SOV style of filming. It has great masks and Halloween costumes and really seems to understand this strange sense of synchronicity that creates good horror. This is made by the illustrious Larry Fessenden and the quality shows for that.
O is for Ochlocracy – what happens when the zombies are running the asylum? I enjoy the statement this short makes about the court system and what it means to be just. It is a bit longwinded.
P is for P-P-P-P Scary! – Yes I can appreciate the old look of this picture and the stylistic choice of storytelling and comedy that was chosen. Unfortunately the surrealistic visions just annoyed me, and I’m afraid I was begging for this to end. Whenever I make statements like that the damn filmmaker ends up reading them, and I feel bad. This short has an audience out there and it isn’t poorly done. I’m sure everyone else will love it.
Q is for Questionnaire – It’s a funny little story. Short and to the point. Not terrible.
R is for Roulette – This one is a gem. Great tension. Smart story. Good twist. Definitely high on my list in the collection. Directed by Marven Kren… who is brand new to me.
S is for Split – I loved this one. It’s a clever story with a nice twist and captures the title well. This is a creepy one with some good gore.
T is for Torture Porn – I didn’t realize this was the Soskas. I’m not entirely sure I agree with the title fitting the video, but I love the effects and the revenge story. Love those eyes.
U is for Utopia – directed by Vincenzo Natali who was behind the cube, this is a good piece of tech horror satire. Fans of Robocop must apply. Trust me when I say the police bot is cool.
V is for Vacation – I laughed all the way through this one. Plenty of completely outlandish sexual moments. What a nice pop at the end to bring it home.
W is for Wish – brilliant for you 80’s Masters of the Universe fans. This is truly some creative shit with classic 80’s effects and humor. It’s like watch the retro 80’s rendition of the live action 80’s cartoon with a heavy helping of Meet the Feebles level what-the-fuck. This is Steven Kostanski of Astron 6 (represent!).
X is for Xylophone – While I didn’t realize this was created by the filmmakers behind Inside and Livid, knowing that now makes me wish we had gotten more from them. Sure the gore is tasty, but the story is mostly irritating and the twist isn’t shocking.
Y is for Youth – What deliciously creative kills with solid effects. Perfect for folks who dislike their family and maybe not the best short to watch before meeting your parents for lunch.
Z is for Zygote – What an absolute mess. A gory filthy, bloody mess! Definitely an oddball one, but a short that I overall enjoyed very much.
As you can see I enjoyed 69% of the shorts. That’s a far cry from the first installments 33%. 3% (1 movie) was fucked up beyond classing it as good or bad (that number is down) and the other 28% sucked or had room for serious improvement.
ABCs of Death 2 is available on VOD now and will hit theaters October 31st.