Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The ABCs of Death 2 (2014)

If you want to learn the alphabet, there are lots of ways you can do it. Feeling left out, the horror movie genre decided to get in on the game, too. Then, a few years later, it tried again.

Directors: Various
Starring: Various

Co-written with Michelle and Tony.

Coming off like a children's book written by Ted Bundy, this is yet another anthology of horror stories with 26 different directors trying their hands at making some weird, crazy, creative stuff. Some of it's good, some of it's bad...and some of it just makes me wish I had stayed home today. Let's dive right in and see what this batshit insane lesson has to teach us about the alphabet.

A is for Amateur

The worst hitman in the world, who I'm guessing was hired from the security department of a Toys R Us, botches up his kill and ends up re-enacting Die Hard in the air vents.

B is for Badger

The story of an incredibly obnoxious TV personality who bullies his staff until they presumably want to see blood – either their own or his. Fortunately, a giant demonic badger is there to help them with the second one:

His last word, after he is torn in half, is “Cut!” Which is a line so stupid that it circles the globe, goes into orbit and finds all the knowledge in the universe, then plummets back down to Earth, cures all the world's ills, and then bends time backwards with its newfound superpowers and it goes straight back to being ass-backwards stupid again.

...that's how dumb that line was.

Anyway, I'm just astounded that a giant demonic man-eating badger isn't the focus of this, but a jackass TV personality dying is the focus of this. Priorities schmiorities.

C is for Capital Punishment

In a truly award-winning society, the town conspires to beat the shit out of some random guy who they think kidnapped some girl. It doesn't really give a reason why they think so, so I'll just assume they picked his name out of a hat. Anyway, they take him out in the woods and try to kill him, very unsucessfully, with a rubber ax they apparently bought from Toys R Us where the guy from the “A” segment worked.

"DAMMIT JENKINS, DID YOU BUY A GODDAMNED FAKE AX AGAIN?! *sigh* I thought we learned our lesson the last five times we did this."

But they eventually get it right. At least they can kill a guy five-against-one when his hands are bound! They at least have that. Oh, and it turns out the girl is okay and they killed him for nothing. Have fun with years of soul searching and self loathing, guys!

D is for Deloused

"So this is the end of life...eaten by a giant lice..."

This one is about lice, apparently, as some truly strange things happen with a guy and a bug. I dunno. The mood and atmosphere are creepy, but I can't help but think this is what's going on in Sid from Toy Story's head all the time – either lice, or the batshit insane contents of this short film, you decide.

E is for Equilibrium

Two stoner rejects from a 90s movie have become trapped on a desert island and nobody noticed or cared. A beautiful woman shows up, inexplicably surviving despite the harsh waves and lack of any other land around the island. They fight over her but then decide to kill her because she's breaking up their non-gay 90s-movie-style bromance.

F is for Falling

A really interesting segment about an Israeli woman paratrooper fleeing from Arab law and getting caught in a tree. Some kid finds her and they strike up some quite well written dialogue that is sweet and kind of sad. It's a sort of romance, although I don't think many romances involve the main girl breaking her leg and hobbling around with the bone sticking out. Or, for that matter, the boy shooting himself by dropping his gun.

Buuuuuuut it was still good. Love just knows no boundaries.

G is for Grandad

I know what, no. I'm not talking about this one.

H is for Head Games

No matter who you are or what you like in a partner, no matter what your tastes are in terms of romance, I think there's one thing we can agree on – we all need a guy or gal we can do this with:

Ah, true love.

I is for Inheritance

This one is about as charming as a five-month old child who hasn't been fed in a week, and with even more screaming and less capacity for sympathy. With all the graphics of your least favorite Nickelodeon shows as a kid, the “I” segment is about some kind of immortal grandma who won't die and her screeching hell-spawn relatives who try and kill her to get money or whatever - what a bunch of fucks.

It turns out there's some kind of strange amulet in the grandma's mouth that makes her live forever. She seems to want to die, and all the miserable hellspawn trying to kill her presumably also want that to happen. But instead of just taking the amulet out and getting rid of it, I guess setting her on fire is more appealing.

J is for Jesus

Two gay guys get tortured and killed in some shithole by some piece of shit bigot fuck. Fortunately for them, one of them was hiding the ability to turn into a vengeful spirit from beyond the grave that comes back and eviscerates their tormentors.

K is for Knell

A young woman looks out the window and sees a bunch of people killing each other in hotel windows. Then, the same thing happens to her as a black slime mixes with blood on the floor. It's effective, creepy and way too vague to figure out what the fuck it actually meant.

No, my vacation is turning into an unfinished Windows screensaver! Control Alt Delete! CONTROL ALT DELETE!!

L is for Legacy

A spirit comes alive in Africa and brutally murders several members of a nearby village. Too bad they didn't have the special healthcare plan that offers protection from ancient primordial spirits!

M is for Mastication

When my friends and I were watching this one, about a crazy guy in piss-stained underwear who goes on a cannibalistic rampage on a busy street, I made a joke about bath salts. Which turned out to be exactly the same punchline as the movie itself came up with. I'm not saying I'm the secret writer of this segment, but I am saying the writer of this segment and myself have never been seen in a room together.

Zach Galifinakis, no!

N is for Nexus

A trippy short in which a girl is bitchy to a cab driver while trying to meet her stupid boyfriend on Halloween. This causes a chain reaction of events which ends in a child dying. Moral of the story, be nice to your cab driver, or else little children will die at his hands. Fear the cab drivers. Keep one eye open when you sleep.

O is for Ochlocracy

Another of the really good ones in this, a Japanese film telling the story of a postapocalyptic future where a woman is being put on trial for killing her kid in a zombie apocalypse. It's actually really effective, with some good acting and the oppressive atmosphere working really well.

At the end there's a twist and we find out everyone persecuting the woman is a zombie, as zombies have now become sentient. It's kind of played for shock value a bit, and there's some of the old Japanese vaudeville-esque humor, but mostly it's a very dark story.

Except for the cartoony judge that yells “DEATH!!!!” like it's the biggest thing in the world for him. I love this guy. He should be the judge for every case in real life. Give him a pay raise.

The legal system at its finest.

P is for P-P-P-Scary!

A tribute to old black and white Three-Stooges esque movies. It's funny and has a guy who can shrink his own head as well as make his head appear on a baby!

So like every movie in that genre, I like it.

Q is for Questionnaire

A story about a guy who answered a bunch of questions to get money, only to have his brain put inside of a gorilla instead. Worst April Fool's ever. I dunno though, maybe it was an improvement. We don't really know anything about the guy. Maybe he was actually a big slacker, and the gorilla version of him will fight crime or something.

R is for Roulette

A bunch of people play Russian roulette as zombies wait outside. Or, Walking Dead season 11. Either one.

S is for Split

Another of my favorites here – this one is about a guy who hears a home break-in while talking to his wife on the phone from another country. She gets killed, and it turns out to be another woman – and the wife of the other guy the husband was staying with at a hotel! What a twist!

"Since you'll be going away for murder for the rest of your life now, honey, I guess I'll just stay with this guy and be gay."

T is for Torture Porn

Girl gets man-handled at an audition for a porn tape, and then turns into a demon and rapes and kills everyone in the room for being misogynistic shitheads. Not that what the porn tape guys were doing was good, as they were just being real dicks the entire time, but...what was the story here? Did she just go into that porn tape audition thinking gee, I bet they'll treat me like a respectable person and not ask me to even take off my clothes? I know she's a demon, but it's confusing as shit. Unless she was just a vengeful spirit who planned to kill them in the first place.

Well, actually, that sounds good to me. Let's let that be it.

U is for Utopia

An ugly guy who somehow wandered into the exalted halls of beautiful people finds out that that isn't allowed after he gets incinerated immediately by the robot police that roam the halls of this place. Gee, if your only standard for a Utopian society is “no ugly people,” my guess is you're also the type of person who thinks Budweiser's Superbowl ad this year was accurate.

V is for Vacation

A girl chats on video on the phone with her boyfriend, who for some reason is at a resort without her, but with a male friend of his – huh, yeah, not weird at all...

Anyway, she finds out they've been sleeping with a bunch of whores and doing drugs. The one guy whose girlfriend it is frantically protests that it wasn't him! It was the other guy who was doing all of it alone! The whores, the drugs, everything! What, was the main guy just curled fetal-pose in a corner sucking his thumb the whole time?

Oh well – they get killed by a naked prostitute, which is always the greatest way to end a vacation.

W is for Wish

Two kids get their wish of being teleported inside their favorite TV show, Fantasy Man. Which is a pretty shitty wish when you think about it. You dumb ass kids couldn't think of anything better? I guess they deserve what happens next – being trapped in the castle of the show's villain. The one kid gets killed, and the other gets kidnapped by Fantasy Man, who seems to mistake him for a princess and carries him away trapped in a bag.

He's riding off into the court of lawsuits for child predators. That light in the distance will go out pretty quick.

X is for Xylophone

Little girl plays with a xylophone, babysitter goes nuts and disembowels her and then plays with her bones.

Okay, come on – I know these are just goofy, overexaggerated cartoon-horror type stories, but we have to start asking questions here. Where did they get this babysitter? Is it really the best idea to shop for babysitters for your kids at the nearby mental asylum? I doubt they even waited until she got out – the mother probably just gave the director of the asylum a handjob in a broom closet and he went, okay, take your pick of the litter!

The lesson I take away from this is, never cut corners when hiring a babysitter.

Y is for Youth

A Japanese girl takes out her woes about her family by engaging in some admittedly pretty creative fantasies. I mean, even as shitty as her family must be, they'd at least appreciate the creativity in these fantasies.

Z is for Zygote

A woman fends off birth with medicine that makes her keep a child inside her belly for 13 years. If that didn't sound like something that would end up on the cover of a tabloid rag or the Daily Mail or some shit, it's actually an extremely hamfisted metaphor for a miscarriage.

Yeah, I don't know about this one. For what it was trying to do, it's pretty well done – it's well-directed, creepy in how depressing and dark it is, very disturbing and certainly doesn't pull any punches. I'm sure whoever made this has some reason they wanted to do it – it's not like this is a topic you just skate around lightly.

But it's just so heavy-handed and in your face, and there's just no context to this. Is there a reason I need to see this? It seems like something this intentionally dark, gruesome and serious was made for a reason, but like a really pushy political protester while you're just trying to go to the post office send a package to your sister in the mail, it's just needlessly heavy when we have zero context for it. Maybe some people will find this one powerful – I just found it a huge downer.

Plus, as my friend put it, "it was just really disgusting."

Can't argue with that one either.


So this is the end of our lesson today. What have we learned? Hmm, well, a lot. The ABCs of Death 2 was certainly a mixed bag like the first one, but I liked this one a bit more if I had to choose – more of these were good as opposed to those that weren't. The first couple are pretty shitty, but once we hit F it's actually quite strong – that one, along with H, L, M, O, P, Q, S, V and W were all varying degrees of good.

The only ones that were real downers this time were G, I and X. T wasn't great either, and Z had its own problems as I mentioned above.

And even the bad ones are still better in a minuscule way as opposed to stuff like The Thing remake or some other corporate bullshit with zero effort. So there is that. If you want something weird and crazy, this is a pretty good bed. Personally I hope we see more of the directors in this anthology – maybe full movies for some of them. That's the great thing about horror; the underground is usually the place to go to find good shit.

Images copyright of their original owners; I own none of them.