The ABCs of Death

Year: 2012
Production Co: Magnet Releasing
Director: Andrew Traucki, Ben Wheatley, Adam Wingard, Xavier Gens, Ti West, Nacho Vigalondo
Producer: Simon Boswell

The biggest surprise I got from this movie was that each segment wasn't necessarily about horror. The marketing, trailer, poster and everything else about it (the end track of The Skyhooks' 1974 hit Horror Movie) made it look like it was going to be an anthology of murderers, demons and monsters – the usual ways people die in horror movies.

But I wasn't the least prepared for an animation about a very stylish woman who can't flush a turd after she goes to the toilet, a Japanese schoolgirl with some sort of lesbian-themed fart fetish, a Robocop -infused sci-fi tale about a future where babies are forbidden or a claymation about a little boy's fear of going to the toilet (so a bit of a theme, then).

In fact just about every outlandish and highly inventive idea deserves to be talked about. They encompass filmmaking forms from first person POV (of a vampire being dug up and ritually killed) to animation, the tones range between traditional horror and surreal art film, and some are as sad as others are funny and bloody.

One of them is simply a series of languid shots fading into each other, close up on the body of two people making love. It's called Orgasm, which qualifies because of its alternate name of le petit mort. That gives you an idea of how wide a brief the producers gave each filmmaker and how widely each one interpreted it.

Each segment is inspired by the alphabetical letter in turn and created by different filmmakers – familiar names like Adam Wingard, Andrew Traucki and Ben Wheatley stand alongside complete unknowns.

I think the generally negative critical reaction was because everyone expected it to just be about monsters, blood and guts, but I have a feeling the producers who conceived it intended to be just the way it was and either they or the distributor thought they had to dress it up as a horror movie in order to capture the V/H/S and Saw crowds.

Either way you might have already made your mind up about it without watching it, but you've never seen anything like it.

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