Monday, February 03, 2014

Honourable Mention: The ABCs of Death

This was one of the films watched at a horror movie night I had recently with some friends. I am sure you’ll know about the concept behind this film 26 directors (1 of them having won a competition) are given a letter of the alphabet each and have to shoot a short film with a budget of $5000.

The result is a mixed bag, to tell the truth. Telling a story as a short film (especially as these were very short) is a work of art in itself. Some of these showed a master’s touch – Marcel Sarmiento’s D is for Dogfight stands out as one of the very best, well shot, a definite story (despite no dialogue) and some genuine emotion behind it. Others were not so good - Andrew Traucki’s G is for Gravity left us all cold as we viewed the film.

Some of the films are truly disturbing – either because of the heavy (often violent) sexual perversion (Simon Rumley’s P is for Pressure being a prime example) or the sheer level of gore (despite a stinging social message I’d cite Xavier Gens’ X is for XXL as one of these). Others carry a stong dose of WTF – most noticeably Jon Schnepp’s W is for WTF! The message has to be, if you are going to watch this, gird your loins for a rollercoaster of quality and be prepared to wince occasionally. Ultimately, however, it was worth watching – indeed I watched it through again in preparation for this Honourable Mention.

the cross
Most of the shorts shy away from the supernatural but Ben Wheatley’s U is for Unearthed does feature a vampire (Laurie Rose) and the opening is the unearthing as the casket (we assume) is opened by a group of men led by Lord Scanlon (Neil Maskell, Ultraviolet (1998)). Everything we see is from the vampire’s point of view and so we see the men above him as his hands grasp out. We see the Priest (Michael Smiley) holding out a cross.

hammering it home
The vampire manages to make a break for it and bites a lone woman whilst trying to escape. Eventually – having been pierced through the arm with a burning arrow – the creature is caught. Scanlon promises that his children will know nothing of the events and then pulls out his fangs with pliers. A stake is hammered into his chest and then a man with an axe chops at the neck. The vampire is still alive as the head is pulled from the trunk and then (we assume) dies as the film turns to black.

staked and head removal
Short and sweet, it didn’t really add any great nuance to the genre or do anything too clever. It was, however, a nice change of pace amongst the other shorts and a more traditional horror was welcome in the grand scheme of the film - with the POV camera making it a little different.

The imdb page is here.


Kev D. said...

Anthology Film seems to be the new Found Footage... it's only a matter of time before there will be a high budget major studio Anthology Film put out.

I haven't watched this one yet... to be honest, the long runtime freaks me out, even if all of the segments are way short.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Hi Kev, thanks for the comment... I take the point re the anthology film being the new found footage - they certainly seem to be a favourite flavour at the moment, but they also have an established tradition going back to 60s and 70s horror (especially Amicus' output).

This is a long running film, to be sure and I must admit I wasn't sure about the length of it given it was the third movie up in the horror night we had.