Directors Lee Hardcastle and Jake West on horror anthology The ABCs of Death

Directors Lee Hardcastle and Jake West on horror anthology The ABCs of Death

Scene from Lee Hardcastle's 'T is for Toilet'

The film also features short, sharp shocks from Ben Wheatley, Xavier Gens and Ti West

‘It’s a horror film anthology made up of 26 chapters, each directed by a separate director. Each segment is represented by a letter of the alphabet; the letter of the alphabet stands for a word which is relevant to that segment and that death.’ Lee Hardcastle, one of two dozen (plus two for luck) directors, explains the rationale behind the ambitious ABCs of Death. ‘Nobody asked for the letter Q.’

‘But Q is actually one of the funniest ones,’ adds fellow ABCs director Jake West (Doghouse). ‘We did have complete creative freedom, they just left us to our own devices. We also only had a very small budget of $5000.’ The result is a very strange, constantly entertaining film. In many ways it’s a collage of modern indie horror offering a snapshot of the current scene. Ti West (House of the Devil), Ben Wheatley (Kill List) and Marcel Sarmiento (Deadgirl) rub shoulders with directors from around the world including Japan’s Noboru Iguchi (Machine Girl), Spain’s Nacho Viglondo (Timecrimes) and France’s Xavier Gens (Frontier(s)).

This approach has brought some startling results out of the myriad directors. The sheer variety keeps ABCs fresh and intriguing - if you hate one story, don’t worry, there’s another one along in four minutes. The relentless pace and low budget required lateral thinking and maximum impact for a short sharp shock. ‘A short film is a bit like a joke because you need a punchline – you’ve got to hit the audience at the end,’ explains West.

West’s ‘S is for Speed’ is an accelerating rush of amphetamine fuelled adrenaline while Hardcastle’s ‘T is for Toilet’ is a uproariously funny claymation gore-fest. ‘They had a competition that was open to the public and they released the letter ‘T’. The guidelines were really straightforward: under four minutes, start and finish on a red frame,’ explains Hardcastle of how he got involved with the project. ‘The only guide that you had in the competition description was that they were looking for, in capital letters, the words "HOLY SHIT". You can interpret that in any way you want, but to me that was about doing something that blew their mind.’

Monster Pictures, released Mon 3 Jun.

The ABCs Of Death Trailer

The ABCs of Death

  • 4 stars
  • 2012
  • US / New Zealand
  • 2h 3min
  • 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…

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