At long last, The ABC's of Death 2 finally had a screening in The Big Smoke as part of the Toronto After Dark Film Festival.
Another round of twenty-six directors showcase their alphabetical interpretations of murder, mutilation and mayhem.
Anyway you slice it, this second helping of ABC's is far superior to its predecessor. It really is quite remarkable how much better realized this one is, as even the title sequence had improved. Even I, who enjoyed the first more than most, could see the massive jump in quality here. I wager it was a combination of this current batch of filmmakers being aware of what didn't work in the previous iteration as well as the producers laying down some guidelines to steer the project away from pedestrian potty humour. Whatever it was, they succeeded.
I won't go through every letter, but it should come as no surprise that I thought Steve Kostanski's (“W”) & Chris Nash's (“Z”) were among the best. They are the most talented filmmakers that I have the pleasure of knowing and I hope that their entries open many doors for them. They earned it.
|Delphine Roussel in Chris Nash's segment “Z”.|
It should also not shock anyone that I adored Robert Morgan's letter “D”, as he serves up another spectacular stop-motion nightmare. I still think my biggest disappointment about this project was missing the chance to possibly meet him when ABC's didn't play Midnight Madness. Oh well, maybe someday...
|Robert Morgan's letter “D”|
Apart from those, other standouts were E.L. Katz's letter “A” and Aharon Keshales & Navot Papushado's letter “F”. The latter may have been a bit heavy handed, but I really appreciate dialogue-driven entries that go somewhere. I responded to that in much the way I did to Marven Kren's “R” segment and my probable favourite, the letter “S” from Juan Martínez Moreno. Even going beyond the well-executed De Palma split-screen of the piece, I fuckin' loved that ending! That's the kind of stuff that makes me go, “damn that's cold!” I was also impressed because nothing I'd seen previously from Moreno gave me any indication he could go balls-out like that.
I found it funny just how loaded this project was in the back end though, as in addition to “S”, “W” & “Z”, the letters “U”, “X” and “Y” were strong, as well.
|Steve Kostanski's letter “W”|
Overall, I felt there were very few duds. Even Todd Rohal's letter “P” – which seems to be getting universally slammed online – was at least amusing in its absurdity. I have to say I was expecting a little more from Bill Plympton though, if only because his “H” segment seemed like a rehash of a sequence from his 1992 effort, The Tune.
So, there you have it. Having learned from its weaknesses, ABC's of Death 2 has eclipsed its predecessor and hopefully given much needed visibility to the next wave of genre filmmakers.