Anthologies are all the rage. It is hip to collaborate. This is what I love so much about the horror genre. Maybe it is because horror films are considered to be the bottom of the barrel in the hierarchy of films among critics; but filmmakers who create horror flicks seem to pool their combined resources together to create badass films. We saw the combined efforts in Grindhouse (2007) with two full-length films as well as some gnarly “fake” promos for other films within the feature. More recently V/H/S (2012) also depicted a collaborative approach to film as a whole. The ABC’s of Death (2012) takes collaboration to a new level. The film is an ambitious collection of 26 chapters showcasing brutal, yet sometimes cheesy, comedic or strange deaths, each starting with one of the letters of the English alphabet.
Directors ranging in experience were allotted a budget of $5,000 and a time limit of 5 minutes and asked to complete a segment based on the letter they were assigned. Other than those parameters, filmmakers had complete autonomy to create their mini films depicting their death sequences highlighting their letter. There were a few brilliant exposes that made me laugh and cringe. Unfortunately, there were a number of chapters that also left a bad taste in my mouth that made me extremely grateful the time limits were so short, and question where they spent their money.
Certain directors despite their experience surprised me with their poor representations of their letter, such as Ti West, which appears to be the most under thought segment, and was an extreme let down. What ends up being more entertaining than the bizarre death sequences was watching the segment then trying to figure out what the sequence would be titled, often in an aha moment when you realized you were completely wrong.
While an intriguing method to filmmaking, the truth is that when attempting this type of collection, the entirety of the film is only as strong as the weakest component. Not surprising, because of this independent approach to the overall film, there is not a lot of cohesiveness to it, and it feels quite fragmented as nothing ties the units together. The importance to watching this film is that while one segment may be extremely comical, such as F and J, others were extremely intense and serious such as D and K. While others still felt like a bad night on peyote and were just plain weird such as R, W and Z. Be ready for a rollercoaster of weird and mixed emotions.
Overall the collaborative works of modern day horror filmmakers combined to generate a unique film that has a number of hilarious and entertaining death sequences. After my first viewing of The ABC’s of Death it felt watching an R rated version of the TV show 1000 Ways to Die. The one predominate theme through a large number of the segments includes deaths including toilets and excrement, which is why I give The ABC’s of Death a D, because is D is for damn those are a lot of bizarre ways to kick the bucket.