Friday, October 03, 2014

Killing Me Alphabetically With Their Songs

Tristan Risk in the "T Is For Torture Porn" segment of THE ABC'S OF DEATH 2.

I very much enjoyed THE ABC'S OF DEATH 2; this compendium of 26 horror shorts on the shared theme of violent premature demise is a fountain of macabre creativity, encompassing J-horror, black humor, political commentary, feminism, sexual politics, surreal satire, Bill Plympton animation and even stop-motion animation. My favorite segments were Robert Morgan's "D Is For Deloused" (the stop-motion one), Kristina Buozyte's "K Is For Knell", Jerome Sabel's harrowing "V Is For Vacation" and the closer, Chris Nash's deeply unsettling "Z Is For Zygote." Of course, your mileage may differ - there is a lot of variety here, and it's all very watchable. And, if you should ever find yourself thinking otherwise, the next segment will be along in a few minutes.

I was particularly looking forward to the contribution by AMERICAN MARY's Jen and Sylvia Soska - "T Is For Torture Porn" - but I found it a bit insubstantial even in this context. If it only felt slight, that would be one thing, but it also feels abbreviated (not necessarily their fault) - to the point of leaving one unsure even of how the story relates to its title. It doesn't help matters that it's placed alphabetically amid some of the most visually and conceptually ambitious segments in the feature. As it is, one feels rushed through a blunt sketch of humiliation and inexplicable mutant revenge that needed more development and pay-off. That said, on the plus side, it stars Tristan Risk (AMERICAN MARY's Beatress), who gives the two-hour-plus film the biggest shot of star power it has. Looking at first like a Margaret Keane ballerina, she emerges from some unpleasant manhandling with her dignity intact and, when she turns the tables on her abusers, she becomes the aurora of cackling horror that is the film's single most arresting and memorable image. The Soskas themselves also appear as witches in the backgrounds of Steven Kostanski's clever TV commercial spoof "W Is For Wish," which also features support from ANTIVIRAL's Brandon Cronenberg.

Not yet in theaters, THE ABC'S OF DEATH 2 premiered yesterday as a VOD title which you can find at the following outlets:

On Demand:
Amazon Instant:
Google Play:

Postscript 10/6/2014: 

Well, color me stupid. I was just informed that the last scene of the Soska Sisters' segment in THE ABC's OF DEATH 2 is shown after the movie's end credits. I dutifully watched all of the end credits - and with 26 different crews, they roll on eternally - but when the book appeared afterwards and faded to black, I assumed the movie was over and ran the renta-film back to watch my favorite segments again - not knowing there was still more to come. So I didn't see all of what I tuned in for. Of course, this may alter the tenor of my criticism - in fact, I'm told it makes sense of the "Torture Porn" title.

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