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Friday, October 11, 2013

The ABCs of Death: Something to Offend Everyone

26 different directors from 15 different countries each take a letter of the alphabet to describe the various horrors of death in the movie anthology ABCs of Death (2012).   There is something to offend, disgust, frighten, and/or sadden everyone in his movie.  It has toilet humor, strange sex, bleak humor, violent mayhem, murder, gore, plushophilia, and, and the list could go on.  If The ABCs of Death doesn’t turn your stomach at least once, you weren’t watching. 

And yet it also swings wildly between horror and humor.  Admittedly, it is humor of a dark and sometimes perverse nature, but there are laughs.  If it were blood, and violence and death, unrelentingly letter after letter, this movie might have become unwatchable.  But those moments of levity help to balance the more horrifying features. 

I was particularly impressed by “D is for Dogfight” – one of the few in this collection to have a “happy ending” of sorts and by “W is for WTF!” which is an apocalyptic commentary on hyper media saturation.  “I is for Ingrown” draws attention to the level of violence against women, and “P is for Pressure” is about sex trafficking and the pressures that push women into that world.   “T is for Toilet” and “Q is for Quack” will have you laughing – and cringing at the same time.

It is an uneven collection. Some are better than others.  “M Is for Miscarriage” seems especially weak compared to the rest.  A few are animated.  Some are surreal.  Some make poignant social commentary.  Some just seem to revel in their own frenzy.  And I just don’t know enough about Japanese culture to be able to comment on some of the features by Japanese directors:  “F is for Fart” is strange and lovely and bizarre and juvenile, all at the same time while  “Z is for Zetsumetsu (Extinction)” is so over the top, I’m still not sure what to make of it.  And it’s probably going to offend.

Watch The ABCs of Death but expect to be offended or disgusted or both. Perhaps you'll be amused and challenged along the way.

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Jeff Carter's books on Goodreads
Muted Hosannas Muted Hosannas
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