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The ABCs of Death (4 stars)

The 26 part horror anthology screened as part of FrightFest at Glasgow Film Festival 2013

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The ABCs of Death

26 shorts about death all rolled into just over two hours, as a horde of horror directors from around the world each pick a letter, assign an appropriate deathly demise to said letter, then make a (roughly) four minute film. As with all anthologies the nature of the format means some are better than others. And with this many on offer inevitably there are a few clunkers, but they are so short they don’t have time to outstay their welcome. The quick turn around means you are at G, then P, then W before you know it.

There’s no over arching storyline or wraparound, just the alphabet motif holding everything together. Nacho Vigalondo’s ‘A is for Apocalypse’ opens proceedings with some cheeky gratuitous gore nicely setting the scene for what’s to come. Most are gags (often very sick gags, mixed with plenty of toilet humour) but a few are completely straight and still effective. It’s a clever move not to mention what each letter stands for until the end of each segment, the final reveal acting as an added punchline. By sheer chance most of the weaker films are early on and we get a particularly strong run between O and U. Some that stand out for added praise include Marcel Sarmiento’s stunning ‘D is for Dogfight’, Bruno Forzani and Hélène Cattet’s woozy ‘O is for Orgasm’, Ben Wheatley’s ‘U is for Unearthed’ and Xavier Gens’ grisly ‘X is for XXL’ but there are plenty more nasty/funny/clever nuggets throughout.

Every short received a round of applause from the FrightFest crowd: this is perfect fodder for the horror faithful. Lee Hardcastle’s ‘T is for Toilet’ (taking claymation into territory Aardman would fear to tread) probably got the best reception, greeted with big laughs and whoops of enjoyment. If we’re honest ABCs probably wouldn’t be as much fun on DVD without the wonderful shared FF experience but this was the perfect film in the perfect environment [The List is happy to admit when we're wrong, after re-watching ABCs again on DVD we noticed even more on a second viewing, the fast pace means repeated viewings are the best way to get everything out of this hugely ambitious anthology feature that is destined to become a late night classic].

The Q&A session that followed was the funniest of the weekend. Directors Jake West (‘S is for Speed’), Hardcastle and Simon Rumley (‘P is for Pressure’) were joined by actress Lucy Clements and horror soundtrack legend Simon Boswell. Plenty of banter but also some decent insights into the making of the various shorts plus two very interesting bits of news: firstly that Boswell is planning on touring his soundtracks live for the first time and secondly that Hardcastle is in discussions with fellow Brit director Wheatley about a feature project.

The ABCs of Death

  • 4 stars
  • 2012
  • US/New Zealand
  • 123 min
  • 18
  • Directed by: Various directors
  • Cast: Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, Iván González, Kyra Zagorsky
  • UK release: 26 April 2013

Horror directors from around the world each pick a letter, assign an appropriate deathly demise to said letter, then make a short film. Most are gags (often very sick gags mixed with plenty of toilet humour) but a few are completely straight and are still effective. Some that stand out for added praise include Marcel…

Elsewhere on the web

The ABCs of Death Red Band Trailer #1 (2012) - Horror Movie HD

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