Twitter Plot Summary: 26 short films, one for each letter of the alphabet, about death.
Five Point Summary:
1. D is for Dogfight.
2. O is for Orgasm.
3. T is for Toilet.
4. U is for Unearthed.
5. W is for WTF!
Anthology formats, by their very nature, tend to be a hit and miss affair. The ABC’s of Death is an interesting concept which compiles the styles and talents of 26 different directors as they each have creative control over their short films about death, one for each letter of the alphabet. Suffice to say, it’s a film that is a good idea in principle but is mostly lacking in its execution.
There are some good ideas, some bad, and some outright weird, A Is For Apocalypse gets things off to a good start, some impressive effects mixed with a slightly disconcerting tale. D Is For Dogfight is a slow motion underground fight with an interesting twist and, whilst extremely odd is also very well structured with a good payoff. O Is For Orgasm is an interesting collage of colours and sounds that represents… well, that, but with more of a David Carradine message rather than one derived solely from pleasure – this is the ABC’s of Death after all. U Is For Unearthed is also worthy of mention, a first person perspective vampire tale that is simple but effective and a perfect example of what the format can do. But then, it is directed by Ben Wheatley, so you’d expect it to be good. T Is For Toilet was a competition entry that was permitted into the final film, and the crude claymation approach is surprisingly charming. Finally there’s W Is For WTF!, where clown zombies rear their freakish faces and the whole thing plays like a Chris Morris sketch.
Sadly examples like this are few and far between, as the majority of the stories err on the side of awful, with a hint of mediocre on occasion. L is for Libido is twisted, apparently just for the sake of it, with men strapped to chairs and forced to watch gradually more disturbing actions played out live in front of them, with the one who doesn’t find it the most sexually alluring finding himself on the wrong end of a deadly anal probe. This marks the most disturbing of the bunch, although F Is For Fart is an exercise in Japanese weirdness that isn’t too dissimilar in tone to Zombie Ass: Toilet of the Dead. That tone of course is “incredibly weird”. M Is For Miscarriage is almost pointless and would have been better doing something completely different or, even, worthwhile.
It’s not terribly scary – always a risk when you throw 26 short movies together like this – in fact much of the tales are just plain weird rather than anything else, in fact they’re arguably played for laughs rather than any attempt at eliciting genuine scares from its audience. If considered from this angle then ABC’s of Death is much more successful as a comedy than a horror vehicle. Perhaps giving each director carte blanche to do as they please is both a positive and a negative. With additional input from an overall producer it may have ended up having a bit more focus and not the haphazard collection that we’ve been given.