If you haven’t yet seen ABCs of Death, stop reading, and go do so right now. If you have seen it then you’re ready for the second collection, and you have probably been waiting as anxiously to see it as I have.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the project, ABC’s of Death is a horror anthology made up of twenty-six short films, each inspired by a letter of the alphabet. The beauty of the project is that every film is made by a different director from all over the world, so the variety of styles, and inspirations, is something that just couldn’t be achieved if only one person had been helming the entire anthology. It’s a pretty simple concept with an unexpectedly delightful outcome.
I’ve decided not to just pick a few of the shorts for review, and attempting to do substantial reviews of every one would not only be too daunting a task, but would hardly do them justice. So instead I’ve come up with a short synopsis for each , and I can only hope that you’ll be enticed to check out this crazy thing for yourself!
A. A man tries his hand at being an assassin, but despite how it goes in his head, the truth is much less glamorous, and even less successful. Well, kind of…
B. An uppity TV host is trying to cover the story of a power plant polluting the land around it, while dealing with an amateurish film crew. While waiting to restart filming, the local wildlife becomes a bit of an issue.
C. A group of people put a man on trial outside the proper legal channels. Their lust for justice, however, leads to hasty retribution, whether it was deserved or not.
D. Stop-motion is already creepy, but this tale is a disgusting affair that takes full advantage of the medium to really push the boundaries of grossing-out the viewer. It’s also pretty demented. This one could have been called Demented… Demented would have been spot on…
E. On a deserted island two guys find their lives looking a little better when a beautiful woman washes ashore. But when love grows between the girl and one of the guys, jealousy rears its ugly head. And then someone gets dead.
F. A paratrooper hangs around idly when one of her enemies stumbles across her. A battle of wits ensues as she tries to get the upper hand. When it looks like she’s about to escape, things go a bit awry.
G. A Grandfather and his Grandson enjoy a drink and a smoke over some fine conversation. The generation gap is obviously a barrier to their relationship, although it might be the douchey Grandson who needs to learn to appreciate his elders. Or maybe the Grandfather has issues of his own.
H. Animation allows for great freedom of imagination. It also allows for a level of bizarre horror not possible otherwise. This one is basically an exorcise in complete randomness.
I. Waiting for an elderly relative to die for the inheritance is a reality many people live with, but what depths of depravity are possible when a bunch of sick family members take the matter into their own hands, without much success?
J. When a Father suspects his son of behavior he doesn’t agree with, and his beliefs demand a dark solution, what can be done to cleanse a tainted spirit? What happens when those trying to “help” are actually the ones who are evil?
K. A woman spies some strange behavior in a building across from her own. Something impossible appears in the sky, and seems to possess everyone in the building, who all take notice of the onlooker. When someone, or something, comes a knocking, she finds herself in a horrifying situation.
L. A primitive tribe readies a sacrifice, but one of the tribesmen has second thoughts before carrying out the wishes of their queen. When a substitute is used for the sacrifice, someone must pay the terrible price.
M. If you’re afraid of big hairy men in their soiled underwear running after you in slow motion… if that’s a nightmare you’ve had, this one’s going to get to you. Zombie? Demon? Town drunk? Just get out of his way!
N. Halloween is a special time for some folks. For some it’s a night where they can be who they truly are, as if their hiding out in the open. Sometimes this isn’t a good thing. Sometimes bad things happen.
O. When the zombie apocalypse comes we’re going to have to do some terrible things to survive. But what happens when you’re put on trial for murdering those who you thought were already dead? Do you feel guilty? Should you be held accountable?
P. Three escaping convicts with severe speech impediments get lost in the dark with only one candle to light the way. Is it their own imaginations that will do them in, or is this film just absolutely cracked? The Irish dancing is a nice touch. And then there’s the part where it gets weird!
Q. A man getting s psyche evaluation thinks he’s just applying for a job. But what he is actually being interviewed for is the stuff of nightmares. The nightmares only a mad scientist could have.
R. Russian Roulette needs no explanation. When you start counting the pulls of the trigger along with the participants, the reasons why they’re playing no longer matter. But in this iteration of the nefarious game, you want so badly to know why the game is being played. This was my favorite entry by far!
S. A husband and wife share a long distance call. When an unexpected visitor comes calling, the husband helplessly hangs on every sound as his wife experiences a fear every woman has considered. When it looks as though the worst has happened, a sound from upstairs implies the unthinkable.
T. S&M is not everyone’s cup of tea. But even worse is severe exploitative pornography. Humiliation reaches new heights when one woman redefines sadism, and the cameras keep rolling.
U. Standing out in public isn’t as easy as one might think. But one man is the quintessential “sore thumb” in a society of physical perfection. His punishment might not fit the crime, but everyone seems to enjoy it anyway.
V. “Found footage” works in small doses, when it’s done well. Things get quickly out of hand when a friend takes his bro’s phone, and let’s his girlfriend in on a little secret that involves questionable moral behavior.
W. The last thing you’d expect in a horror film would be an 80s-style toy commercial. But this short explores that innocent nostalgia in a way that both brings the kid in all of us back to life, and ruins all our childhood dreams. This is what an eight-year old’s imagination would be like if you gave him LSD.
X. Ever experience someone making noise when you’re trying to enjoy listening to something? That rising anger. The building rage. Imagining what you’d like to do to them if you could. What if it was a kid who was making the noise, and you had enough? Just…enough!
Y. There’s nothing quite like body horror. And there’s nothing quite like body horror given the Japanese treatment. A girl gleefully imagines bad things happening to her parents in a way only Japanese horror could possibly do.
Z. A woman is desperate to delay the birth of her child. After years of taking something to stave off the inevitable, both mother and child wonder when the father will return home. In the meantime, their bond grows over a nice meal, and pleasant conversation. This one will pollutes a piece of you that you never knew was vulnerable to assault. Really!
The ABCs of Death series is a fantastic way to showcase innovative horror. I’m sure the writers and directors have as much fun making the films as the viewers do watching them. It’s a welcome breath of strange air in a genre that, as of late, has become very repetitive and formulaic. ABCs of Death 2 continued what the first film started, by offering a ‘can’t miss’ glimpse into the minds of a lot of people who love horror, and for that reason alone I eagerly await the third installment. And the fourth, and fifth!