In 2012, Tim League (founder of the Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas and film distribution company) and Ant Timpson (founder of the Incredibly Strange Film Festival), two of the film world’s most clever and twisted individuals, came up with a pretty cool and ambitious idea. They thought “what if we kind of adapted the ABC books that every little kid reads as a child but instead of “A is for Apple” and “B is for Bucket” we’d make each letter a clever way to die and get 26 different directors to film a short film for each letter? Brilliant!” At least on paper it was.
When the finished product, “The ABCs of Death,” dropped it was met with much hype but that quickly fizzled as the parts that made up the whole were incredibly inconsistent. In fact, when I tried to watch the film it was difficult to do so. Not because of how unsettling or violating the shorts were but rather because it felt like a group of people throwing together the most crazy ideas they could half-bake into a short film meant to disturb.
And admittedly, I’m not a huge fan of the “anthology film” because of the sense of disjointedness I feel. Add some 20-22 MORE parts to an anthology film and, clearly, I’m probably not the target audience, but I also was expecting much more than the first “ABC’s of Death” delivered. While I still have a tough time sticking with the idea of 26 whacked out short films in a row, I was mostly pleasantly surprised with just what a step up “ABC’s of Death 2” is as a whole.
This time out I decided to stream the film while drinking a few pints of local craft beer and, frankly, this is probably the best way to enjoy an onslaught of silly, gory, f****d up short films. My initial plan was to do a mini-review of each short but as I look back at my notes they start getting really murky around “J” or, pint 6. By “R” they’re frankly illegible.
I will say that some of the segments I enjoyed most were E.L. Katz’s “A is for Amateur,” Robert Morgan’s super cool animated short “D is for Deloused,” Dennison Ramalho’s “J is for Jesus,” Todd Rohal’s “P is for P-P-P-P Scary!” and Rodney Ascher’s “Q is for Questionnaire.” But really, there aren’t many duds in this entire collection which is quite a feat. I’m still not entirely sure the concept works but I’m pleased an outlet for short film distribution has plopped on the landscape and it’s also interesting to see filmmakers delving deep into their own depravity and spilling out chunks of it in 4-5 minute spurts.