The ABCs of Death

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The ABCs of Death
Abcsofdeath.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Various directors
Produced by
Written by Various screenwriters
Starring Various actors
Music by Various composers
Cinematography Various cinematographers
Edited by Various editors
Production
company
Distributed by Magnet Releasing
Release date
  • September 14, 2012 (2012-09-14) (TIFF)
  • January 31, 2013 (2013-01-31) (VOD)
  • March 8, 2013 (2013-03-08) (North America)
  • July 20, 2013 (2013-07-20) (Japan)
Running time
124 minutes[1]
Country United States[2]
Language Various languages
Box office $21,832[3]

The ABCs of Death is a 2012 American anthology horror comedy film produced by international producers and directed by filmmakers from around the world. The film contains 26 different shorts, each by different directors spanning fifteen countries, including Nacho Vigalondo, Kaare Andrews, Adam Wingard, Simon Barrett, Banjong Pisanthanakun, Ben Wheatley, Lee Hardcastle, Noboru Iguchi, Ti West, and Angela Bettis.

It premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2012. In 2013, it was released on VOD January 31 and in theaters March 8.[4] The end credits of the film feature Australian band Skyhooks' 1974 song "Horror Movie". A sequel, ABCs of Death 2, was released in late 2014 and a second sequel, ABCs of Death 2.5 in 2016.[5]

Plot[edit]

The film is divided into twenty-six individual chapters, each helmed by a different director assigned a letter of the alphabet. The directors were then given free rein in choosing a word to create a story involving death. The varieties of death range from accidents to murders.[6]

A contest was held for the role of the twenty-sixth director. The winner was UK-based director Lee Hardcastle, who submitted the claymation short for T.[7]

Content[edit]

The movie begins showing a close up of a funnel with blood pouring ominously from it. The blood proceeds to fill up various rooms inside of a house before filling up the interior of a small room containing letter blocks. The room floods as the blocks float to the top spelling out the title. Throughout the film, the blocks spell out the titles to all the segments with each of the segments ending and beginning with a focus on, or a fade into, the color red.

Title written and directed by Description
A is for Apocalypse Nacho Vigalondo A woman bursts into the bedroom of a man, presumably her husband, and proceeds to stab, burn and beat him. Nearly dead, he asks why she did this; she then reveals she has been slowly poisoning him for some time as part of a murder plot, but has had to speed up the process because she has been "watching the news" and there "wasn't enough time". Destruction is heard outside as the woman sits with her husband and waits for the end of the world.
B is for Bigfoot Adrian Garcia Bogliano Xochitl can't go to sleep. Her babysitters, Dulce and Erik, fabricate a story about the Abominable Snowman coming out every night to take away kids, but only those who stay up at night. A mysterious homeless man breaks into the house and kills Dulce and Erik. The man enters Xochitl's room, but leaves as Xochitl hides under the covers counting sheep.
Note: The short was originally titled Y is for Yeti.
C is for Cycle Ernesto Diaz Espinoza Bruno sees a puddle of blood in his backyard, but ignores it. At night he hears a noise and checks on it, but finds nothing. In the morning, his wife Alicia disappears and he finds a hole in the bushes. He is sucked in and finds out he has been sent back in time to the night he heard the sound, he was the one who made it. In the morning, he sees himself getting sucked into the bushes and is killed by another Bruno, making the puddle of blood seen at the beginning.
D is for Dogfight Marcel Sarmiento A man, adorned with a dog tag reading "Buddy", enters an underground fighting ring against a dog. The two have a vicious fight as various onlookers cheer them on. As the dog bites the man's neck, he shouts "Buddy!" causing the dog to stop. The dog suddenly turns on his handler, and lost dog posters are shown revealing that the dog previously belonged to the man. The dog and the man team up on the handler and presumably kill him.
E is for Exterminate Angela Bettis A man attempts to kill a spider, but keeps missing, getting bitten several times in the process. After a whole week of being stalked by the spider, and complaining about ear aches, the man finally kills the spider, but tiny baby spiders then hatch out of his ear.
F is for Fart Noboru Iguchi School girl Yoshie is obsessed with her teacher Miss Yumi. One day while outside, a deadly gas breaks forth from the ground and kills anyone who inhales it. Yoshie and Yumi escape into a building where the former wishes to smell the latter's farts instead of the gas. Yumi farts in Yoshie's face and she is transported to a gas filled dimension where she and Yumi make out.
G is for Gravity Andrew Traucki In the first short shot mostly from a POV perspective, a man drives up to the beach where he pulls out a surf board and a bag full of bricks. Strapping the bag to himself, he rides the board out into the ocean where he proceeds to drown. The camera changes perspective and the viewer sees the surf board bobbing vertically in the water.
H is for Hydro-Electric Diffusion Thomas Malling In a WWII setting populated by humanoid animals, Bertie the Bulldog enters a strip club and is enamored by a fox woman. The fox turns out to be Bertie's Nazi arch nemesis Frau Scheisse, who traps him over an electrified pool of water. Encouraged by the voice of Winston Churchill, Bertie overcomes the odds and knocks Scheisse into the pool of water, where she melts and then explodes. He then winks and grins to the camera, in a parody of patriotic propaganda films.
I is for Ingrown Jorge Michel Grau A man has his wife bound and gagged in his bathtub. As she struggles to break free, the man injects her with motor oil, which causes her to scratch herself violently. She bleeds and then vomits before lying lifelessly in the tub. As the scene goes on, a female voice: the woman in the tub, narrates in Spanish a monologue about how her husband’s abuse just makes him a “primal” animal and not any more of a man, the monologue is directed at him.
J is for Jidai-geki (Samurai Movie) Yûdai Yamaguchi An executioner prepares to decapitate a samurai; however, the samurai begins distorting his face into a series of bizarre and physically impossible expressions, causing the executioner to panic. A man off screen tells the executioner to finish the job as he notices the samurai is performing seppuku. The executioner, who turns out to be a kaishakunin, beheads the samurai, but then laughs at the ridiculous expression the latter made.
K is for Klutz Anders Morgenthaler In this cartoon short, a woman uses the toilet at a party, only to discover that her stool refuses to be flushed. The stool starts making squeaking noises as it moves on its own towards its "creator". After the woman seemingly manages to flush it, she continues to hear the squeak. As she inspects the toilet, the stool is revealed to be clinging to the ceiling above her; it drops down, reentering her anus at high speed. She bolts upright, stunned, and then falls down dead, as the stool slides out her mouth on a stream of blood. Other party guests enter and find her body.
L is for Libido Timo Tjahjanto A man awakens naked and strapped to a chair, with another man in the same position. Both are forced to masturbate to a series of increasingly disturbing acts with the last one to climax getting impaled. At one point, the woman overseeing the acts is accidentally impaled along with the loser. The man who made it through all of the acts suddenly falls unconscious when he refuses to continue. He awakens in bed with a naked woman over him, only to discover he is part of the next act as the woman kills him with a chainsaw.
M is for Miscarriage Ti West A woman tries to unclog her toilet. She goes down to the basement, finds a plunger and returns, revealing that a dead fetus is inside.
N is for Nuptials Banjong Pisanthanakun Shane is flirting with his girlfriend Ann using a new parrot he bought. He then proposes to her and she accepts. Suddenly, Shane's parrot blurts out "Don't be scared Joy, my girlfriend won't know." Shane tries to brush it off, but the parrot's exclamations become more lewd and damning. Ann shouts "Damn you, Shane!", grabs a knife, and stabs him to death.
O is for Orgasm Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani A man and a woman, credited as "L'homme" and "La femme" respectively, have sex, which is presented in a series of abstract, dimly-lit, close up shots, such as bubbles, cigarettes, leather, moaning and breathing. The short ends with the man pulling out a leather belt and strangling the woman as she lets out one final orgasm.
P is for Pressure Simon Rumley A prostitute must take care of her three children as her boyfriend, a reckless man himself, steals all of her saved up money. Desperate, she takes up a gig at what appears to be a photo shoot. However, the man pulls out a small baby kitten that she gives to the prostitute who promptly puts the kitten down and crushes it underneath her shoe. Afterwards, the prostitute is seen happily spending the day with her children.
Q is for Quack Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett The actual filmmakers, playing themselves, are upset over having gotten the letter Q for their segment and, whilst struggling for ideas, decide to make theirs the only segment of the film to feature an actual on-screen death. Adam and Simon, along with their cameraman Juan Carlos, go out to shoot an actual living duck on film (since "nobody gives a shit about animals"). Adam and Simon's guns suddenly jam and then unexpectedly go off, killing the pair. Juan Carlos runs away, leaving the still-living duck in the cage.
R is for Removed Srđan Spasojević A man is continually subjected to constant surgeries as his skin contains full rolls of 35mm film. He is covered in bandages, but seemingly adored by the public who want to touch his skin. Eventually, his skin begins to produce less and less film and he escapes, killing several men in the process. He makes it to a train yard and crushes himself underneath one of the cars; shortly afterwards, it begins to rain blood.
S is for Speed Jake West Roxanne kidnaps Lulu from an abandoned outpost in the desert while being chased by an invincible hooded figure. After putting Lulu in the trunk of her car, Roxanne speeds off, but runs out of gas. Roxanne attempts to bargain with the hooded man, but he refuses, admitting that she "gave [him] a run for [his] money". She takes his hand and is shown to have died in a drug den. Lulu wakes up, takes Roxanne's drugs and hallucinates the desert.
T is for Toilet Lee Hardcastle In this claymation short, a child is being taught how to use the toilet by his parents. The toilet suddenly grows teeth and eyeballs and telepathically locks the door. It brutally kills and devours the child's parents before lunging at the child, revealing it all to be a nightmare. The child decides to use the toilet for real, but a loose screw frightens him, leading to him getting his head stuck in the toilet seat. His father laughs upon seeing him, but the toilet tank then comes loose and falls, crushing the child's head and causing the father to scream in horror.
Note: This short spawned a sequel called Ghost Burger.
U is for Unearthed Ben Wheatley In the second short shot entirely from a POV perspective, a vampire rises out of its coffin as a small mob attempts to sedate and kill it. The vampire flees from the mob, stopping to feed upon a passing woman, before being taken down by a flaming arrow and knocked unconscious. The vampire awakens as a prisoner of the mob, who have its teeth pulled, the vampire itself staked, and finally its head cut off as it stares at its killers.
V is for Vagitus (The Cry of a Newborn Baby) Kaare Andrews In New Vancouver 2035 A.D., women must petition the government for permission to bear children. Lainey, an officer, successfully petitions for one, but discovers she is infertile. She and her robot partner, Nezbit, break into a facility to hunt for "mentals". They discover a family which Nezbit subsequently kills; he then beheads the family's baby. Lainey's boss, Stoker, enters and criticizes her due to her sympathizing with the family. The baby's head turns out to be alive and possessing some psychic power, as it proceeds to blow up Stoker's head, while the dying father tells Lainey that she is its mother now.
Note: This short started as an idea for a feature film.
W is for WTF! Jon Schnepp Jon Schnepp is working on an animated short relating to the letter W when his friends and crew members tell him to come to the conference room to watch the news. The short begins to devolve into scenes involving zombie clowns, a puppet in hell, chem trails, a warrior woman battling a giant walrus, and a flying baby monster, all while a newscaster chaotically spouts end of the world babble. Jon's head is cut off and stabbed by a cartoon warlock as he shouts "What the fuck!?".
X is for XXL Xavier Gens Gertrude, an overweight woman, wanders the streets of France as people everywhere taunt her size; she is haunted by images of thin attractive women. She sadly gorges herself on food before deciding to finally do something about her weight. Using a variety of sharp objects, Gertrude proceeds to cut the fat off of her body. She walks out of the bathtub in a skeletal state and missing all her skin; she poses briefly and then bleeds to death.
Y is for Youngbuck Jason Eisener A pedophilic janitor teaches a young boy he has been watching from afar to hunt deer, and is then implied to sexually assault the boy. The janitor continues to watch all the boys play basketball and then licks up their sweat afterwards. The boy, haunted by his time with the janitor, appears in the gymnasium and kills him with the severed head of a deer.
Note: Features the song "Vengeance" by the Australian Synthwave duo Power Glove.
Z is for Zetsumetsu (Extinction) Yoshihiro Nishimura A mysterious man named Dr. Strangeluv is shown the "positive" aspects of American culture and how it relates to Japan. All throughout, imagery of rice and sushi, a topless woman with a Nazi hat and giant penis, and naked people with hats resembling bombs reading "Big Boy" are unapologetically shown throughout. Strangluv stands up and shouts "My Emperor, it is standing!" as his penis rises exposed and fires rice.
Note: The short was originally titled R is for Rice.

Reception[edit]

Rotten Tomatoes reports that 36% of critics gave the film a positive review and an average score of 4.8/10 based on 66 reviews. The consensus says the film "is wildly uneven, with several legitimately scary entries and a bunch more that miss the mark".[8] Nerdist calls it "a midnight movie for folks with a sick sense of humour".[9] The Austin Chronicle says it "soars to such artistic heights, and such tasteless depths, on a global scale, no less, bodes well for the future of cinema fantastique and otherwise",[10] while Inside Pulse says the movie has a "brilliant concept but not great execution". Many reviewers criticized the film shorts' unevenness.[11][12][13]

Dread Central gave a mixed review for the film, saying the film is "full of installments that are more bad than good" but that it was an "easy watch" overall.[14] Film School Rejects gave The ABCs of Death a B rating, praising D is for Dogfight while saying that "M is for Miscarriage is almost insulting in its laziness".[15] Screen Crush gave an overall positive review, saying that it was "a good time at the movies".[16]

Dave Canfield writing for film magazine Magill's Cinema Annual said of the film: "The ABCs of Death is for anyone who loves horror since it is easy to skip through segments that are not to taste. Any viewer should be prepared to laugh pretty hard; feel tense; get grossed out like they would at any halfway decent horror film. But that same viewer now has a chance to find out about some of the best directors working in horror today."[This quote needs a citation]

Sheila Kearns case[edit]

After showing the film to a group of high school Spanish students, former Ohio substitute teacher Sheila Kearns was found guilty of four counts of disseminating matter harmful to juveniles. As of Thursday, January 16, 2015, Kearns was convicted, and on 5 March 2015, she was sentenced to 90 days in jail and probation for three years.[17][18]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "THE ABCS OF DEATH (18)". British Board of Film Classification. January 15, 2013. Retrieved February 6, 2013. 
  2. ^ "The ABCs of Death (2012)". AllMovie. Retrieved October 25, 2016. 
  3. ^ "The ABCs of Death". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved October 10, 2014. 
  4. ^ Ryan Turek (October 3, 2012). "Get a Sneak Peek of ABCs of Death Before V/H/S This Week". Shock Till You Drop. Retrieved November 9, 2012. 
  5. ^ Nemiroff, Perri (2013). "'ABCs of Death 2' Directors List: 'Splice's' Vincenzo Natali, Bill Plympton & More". upcominghorrormovies.com. Retrieved 24 May 2014. 
  6. ^ "Exclusive Interview: Angela Bettis on The ABCs of Death". Crave Online. Retrieved 21 October 2012. 
  7. ^ "Watch the Winning 'ABCs of Death' Short Film 'T is for Toilet'". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved 21 October 2012. 
  8. ^ The ABCs of Death at Rotten Tomatoes
  9. ^ Thompson, Luke (September 24, 2012). "Fantastic Fest: "Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning" and "The ABCs of Death"". Nerdist. Retrieved February 7, 2012. 
  10. ^ Savlov, Marc (September 25, 2012). "FF2012: 'The ABC's of Death'". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved February 7, 2015. 
  11. ^ "Fantastic Fest '12: The ABCs of Death – Review". Inside Pulse. Retrieved 21 October 2012. 
  12. ^ "REVIEW: THE ABCS OF DEATH (TIFF 2012)". Jo Blo. Retrieved 21 October 2012. 
  13. ^ "Fantastic Fest Review: 'The ABCs of Death'". Film.com. Retrieved 21 October 2012. 
  14. ^ "ABCs of Death, The (2012)". Dread Central. Retrieved 21 October 2012. 
  15. ^ "Fantastic Fest: 'The ABCs of Death' – 10 Segments I Liked and 5 I Didn't". Film School Rejects. Retrieved 21 October 2012. 
  16. ^ "'THE ABCS OF DEATH' REVIEW". Screen Crush. Retrieved 21 October 2012. 
  17. ^ "Former Columbus teacher guilty of showing obscene movie to students". The Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved 15 January 2015. 
  18. ^ "Former Ohio substitute teacher given jail time for showing high school class graphic movie". Retrieved 5 March 2015. 

External links[edit]