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The ABCs of Death

2012 | 124 min | Not rated | 1.85:1

The ABCs of Death


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

User reviews

2 user reviews

Movie appeal

Dark humor16%


Theatrical release date

 08 March, 2013
 26 April, 2013

Country of origin

 United States

Box office




Overview Releases Preview Cast & crew Screenshots User reviews News Forum

The ABCs of Death


Screenshots from The ABCs of Death Blu-ray

The ABCs of Death Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, February 7, 2013

“The ABCs of Death” is an unusual experiment in omnibus filmmaking, but its uniqueness doesn’t wash away its persistent unpleasantness. Looking to shock, tickle, and horrify its audience, the production bends over backward to be the vilest movie of 2013, and it succeeds in many cases. However, being unrepentantly ugly isn’t enough to support two hours of twisted entertainment, and while there is a handful of highlights to hold out hope that the feature may be coming to its senses, the majority of the effort is either deathly dull, superhumanly moronic, or just plain angry for reasons best communicated to a therapist. If “The ABCs of Death” doesn’t put you to sleep, it’ll have you repeatedly lunging for the fast-forward button.

The idea here is interesting. Handing the letters of the alphabet to 26 filmmakers from around the world, “The ABCs of Death” intends to represent a smorgasbord of horror, offering brief blasts of gore, comedy, and disturbing behavior. The shorts aren’t linked, with each presentation vomited forth from the imagination of its creator, who sets the tone for their segment. For example: “A is for Apocalypse” (directed by Nacho Vigalondo) concerns a woman’s mad dash to murder her bedridden husband before doomsday arrives. “E is for Exterminate” (directed by Angela Bettis) presents one man’s failed attempts to kill a tenacious spider working its way around his apartment. “H is for Hydro-Electric Diffusion” (directed by Thomas Cappelen Malling) imagines an alternate universe where a Man-Dog fighter pilot from WWII squares off against a diabolical Cat-Woman Nazi temptress. And “Q is for Quack” hunkers down with helmers Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett as they brainstorm ways to make their mark on the picture while saddled with a troublesome letter.

If the basic concept of the movie seems like a spin on a carnival attraction where the ride vehicle is held down with loose bolts, I assure you, “The ABCs of Death” is nowhere near the dangerous thrill-seeking event it appears to be. It’s a sensational idea, but the execution of most of these shorts is appalling. Granted, without time and money to truly make these sequences pop like they should, it’s unfair to expect the assembled directors to move mountains with these slight works. Only six of them of them showcase any real imagination, with the rest lost to whiffed attempts at surrealism, dark comedy, and bodily function humor. My goodness, the bodily function humor in this thing. It’s like a majority of the filmmakers only recently discovered the mysteries of the human anus, penis, and vagina, and wanted to share their historic findings with the world.

In the win column is Xavier Gans’s “X is for XXL,” which provides a natural extension of despondency as a cruelly mocked overweight woman goes to fat-slicing extremes to make herself skinny. It’s brutal, creative, and smartly satirizes the impact of media images on sensitive souls. “D is for Dogfight” (directed by Marcel Sarmiento) offers an ingenious display of visual effects as a broken man is forced to box a canine for a delighted crowd of deadbeats, with images of fist-to-snout contact utterly convincing. “O is for Orgasm” (directed by Bruno Forzani and Helene Cattet) is merely a series of images tied to increasingly hostile S&M play, but it’s imaginatively shot. And Srdjan Spasojevic’s “R is for Removed” is actually lofty in its thematic intent, using skin-peeling Cronenbergian inspiration to personify the death of celluloid. It’s captivating, profoundly gross, and has a fascinating vision, which is more than I can say about the majority of these shorts.

Insufferable is “F is for Fart,” which observes the last wish of a Japanese schoolgirl as she faces the end of the world, hoping for a whiff of her lesbian crush’s anal vapor. Keep in mind director Noboru Iguchi is a 43-year-old man. “T is for Toilet” (directed by Lee Hardcastle) is a claymation installment concerning two parents trying to convince their frightened, potty-training child that the toilet will not hurt him. The crude artistry is diverting, but the material is inane. And “K is for Klutz” (directed by Anders Morgenthaler) is a cartoon featuring a woman trying to flush a sentient glop of fecal matter down a toilet. It’s actually quite unsettling to find most of these filmmakers so consumed with poo-poo, pee-pee humor, trying desperately to speed up viewer reaction in the cheapest manner imaginable. And if anal wonders cease to amaze, “The ABCs of Death” offers a cornucopia of vulgarity and sobering depravity to sort through, including the slaughter of infants and kittens, pedophilia, and Ti West’s “M is for Miscarriage,” which is the briefest of the segments and the most smugly tasteless. It’s as if these moviemakers didn’t realize they could’ve turned down the opportunity to participate in this misfire.

Remember, there are 26 of these mini-movies to sit through, which can be grueling to anyone who greets the very first short with disappointment. As an experiment, “The ABCs of Death” is laudable, unearthing a fresh way to rile up the senses with punishing material. Cruelly, the most imaginative element of the production is the concept, finding a good portion of these lackluster stories of doom and decay derivative, amateurish, infantile, and needlessly abusive.

Directors: Angela Bettis, Jason Eisener, Xavier Gens, Ti West, Jake West, Srđan Spasojević

» See full cast & crew

The ABCs of Death, Forum Discussions

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The ABCs of Death 10 May 22, 2013

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