Movie Review: “The ABCs of Death”

Image“A” is for agonizing, awful and apocalyptic.

“B is for bizarre, brutal and bloody.

“D” is for disturbing, deeply disturbing, “S” for subversive, “T” for twisted and trangressive.

“The ABCs of Death” is an instant midnight movie, a morbid mishmash of styles and filmmaking formats – 26 films, 26 filmmakers from the four corners of the horror globe, all making short films about death.

It’s not for everyone.

A wildly uneven exercise, that perhaps stems from how much bang for his buck a movie maker from Thailand (Banjong Pisanthanakun) can achieve, and how weak the imagination of some American film school alumni can be.

Spanish director Adrián García Bogliano’s “B is for Bigfoot” is an amusing account of a sexually aroused woman warning her boyfriend’s little sister that girls who don’t go to sleep by eight are carried off and eaten by an abominable snowman who now lives in Mexico City. Yes, it has a gory payoff.

Marcel Sarmiento’s “D is for Dogfight” may be the most disturbing (which is saying something), a vivid, ugly slow-motion parable about an underworld where dogs fight homeless men to the death. Until one dog, and one homeless guy, find common ground.

“K is for Klutz” is a laugh-out-loud animated affair about a blond battling, to the death, something she tried and failed to get down the toilet on the first flush. That film’s Danish animator Anders Morgenthaler wasn’t the only one who thought “toilet” when he joined this project. Lee Hardcastle’s comical and crudely made clay animated “T is for Toilet,” about toilet-training a tyke, has a wicked payoff, too.


A couple of the American-made movies are built around “What can we make a movie about death around with the letter ‘Q’ or ‘W’?” and are the most amateurish.

“M is for Miscarriage” you can figure out on your own.

Noboru Niguchi’s “F is for Fart” is easily the most daft and kinky – a Japanese schoolgirl would rather die of the scent of her teacher’s gas than volcanic emissions. There’s a World War II period piece with a fighter pilot in a bulldog costume seduced by a Nazi in a catsuit, a Robocop riff, a “Dr. Strangelove” inspired bit, and a ferociously on the mark French short (“X is for XXL”) about the self-surgery a harassed and tormented obese girl undergoes to look like the models she sees in fashion ads. Xavier Gens did that one.

The blood flows, the gore grows and the strain shows as the filmmakers try to find new ways to off people, new ways to offend (child prostitution). About half of the movies work, and half don’t. But even the half that do can be a grim slog for those not inured to the splatter/spatter/slasher end of the horror spectrum.


MPAA Rating: unrated, worthy of an NC-17 due to violent and sexual content, often happening at the same time.

Cast: Scores of actors, no household names

Credits: Twenty-six directors from the United States, Mexico, Japan, Thailand, Serbia, France and elsewhere. A Magnet release.

Running time: 2:03

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2 Responses to Movie Review: “The ABCs of Death”

  1. I can’t wait to see this in theater this Friday. It doesn’t sound as if you’re a fan of gory horror movies in general, so I’m sure that would be a deterant. I, on the other hand, am a big fan of gory horror!

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