Friday, January 4, 2013

John Dies When? - John Dies at the End Reviewed

Have you had long enough to digest the timeline cutting, sharp edge of Don Coscarelli's stunning new gorefest, John Dies at the End? It's been out for just over a week, getting great reviews and well... this review will be no different. Like many, I have not read the book by David Wong. Unlike many, I did not like more recent Coscarelli's efforts like Bubba Ho-Tep (I have no heart). I am a huge fan of the Phantasm series and grew up with the Beastmaster on repeat as one of my after school specials of choice which is what initially lead me to dream big about Don's latest effort. That and the amazing contrasty, yellow, heavily visual poster made it more important than watching the ball drop at the end of the year. Let's face it, who needs the end of the year or the end of the world for that matter when you've got A plus fun gore on the line.

Synopsis from Magnet:

It’s all about the Soy Sauce, a drug that promises an out-of-body experience with each hit. Users drift across time and dimensions. But some who come back are no longer human. Suddenly a silent otherworldly invasion is underway, and mankind needs a hero. What it gets instead is John (Rob Mayes) and David (Chase Williamson), a pair of college dropouts who can barely hold down jobs. Can these two stop the oncoming horror in time to save humanity? No. No, they can't. 


I love this movie because it's pure Coscarelli with humorous overtones, expert amateur weapons craft and contains copious amounts of "what the fuck did I just watch" blood and guts. We're talking, and I'm not giving anything away here, a giant walking meat man monster. Say that five times fast. Then try watching it. It's kinda gross, kinda perfect, all Don (Yes, I'm referring to him as Don. No, I have not met him, but I would love to shake his hand and call him my friend). The premise of a substance that allows reality to bend, type to warp and your perception to be utterly changed sounds an awful lot like LSD. Well, I suppose that we can call John Dies at the End a great hour and half acid flashback (which is economical for a flashback but pretty short for a trip itself). I couldn't tell if I was flashing back, ready for Nam-land in Chop Top's wet dream or actually just watching a movie in my bed late into the evening.

I'm going to offer some criticism now (no... YES). The green screen work or computer aided background creation just didn't do it for me. I had to ask more than once if it was purposely made to look just a little fake and I really can't say for certain. Not that every piece of computer aided gore or effect work was bad. Just those damn "insert the character HERE" backgrounds. That's just about all I want to say that is even remotely negative about John Dies at the End.

There a plenty of cameos for the veteran horror fan including Mr. Angus Scrimm (BOY!) and Clancy Brown  who actually plays more of a major role. Get your Starship a-Trooping. Chase Williamson and Rob Mayes have brilliant chemistry feeding off each other with enthusiastic energy and just enough comic sensibilities to not overdo it. Paul Giamatti just might surpass Geoffrey Rush as my favorite living, non horror actor (Dead is Jimmy Stewart). 

This is another movie in a long line of Magnet Releasing's successful domination of the indie horror market. Everything these guys touch seems to turn into pure black gold. From the moment you figure out that you don't really care that you know the ending (or do you?) to the first supernatural phenomenon to the action packed third act with plenty of intrigue and plot twist to keep the cynical fans mouth shut, John Dies at the End will deliver the promise of the trailer, of the poster and I hope David Wong's vision. You can count on me to be reading that one when I remember how to read (once you have kids, reading becomes the luxury that means that every word you put in your head must be cherished like the Eucharist). 

You know how I know that John Dies at the End is great? Midway through my viewing experience the damn VOD froze (and this is an argument against VOD... no one to blame at the ticket counter). I waited patiently on the phone with my cable provider waiting for them to pick up at 11 o'clock at tonight. Waiting for them to fix my damn cable box. Upon speaking to a representative of Xfinity aka Comcast Death Fuck, they informed me that I would simply have to "wait it out". It could come back WHENEVER IT FUCKING WANTED TO! So I waited a good while. Went to bed and dreamt in pure Coscarelli. Beautiful visions of post-apocalyptic, trippy multi dimensional yum. Then I got to watch it a full 24 hours later. That 24 hour waiting period had me absolutely ravenous to finish it. I NEEDED to see how it ENDED even though I supposedly KNEW how it ended.  And it was worth it. The end of personal sentiment about this awesome movie. 

Stop by the Magnet website to learn how you can experience this wonderful movie VOD HERE

-Dr. TERROR (does not die at the end)

NOTE: Did you catch this anti-piracy warning from the filmmakers? Did you laugh as much as I did? And didn't it make you wanna see the movie that much more? Same here!

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