ABC’s OF DEATH 2 is the follow-up to the most ambitious anthology film ever conceived with productions spanning from Nigeria to UK to Brazil and everywhere in between. It features segments directed by over two dozen of the world's leading talents in contemporary genre film. The film is comprised of twenty-six individual chapters, each helmed by a different director assigned a letter of the alphabet. The directors were then given free rein in choosing a word to create a story involving death.
I’m a complete sucker for horror anthologies. Everything from John Carpenter’s ‘Body Bags‘ to ‘Creepshow‘ to the recent series like ‘Trick R’ Treat‘ and the ‘V/H/S‘ franchise, I just love watching these talented filmmakers and writers try and scare the hell out of me with their short films, and nine times out of ten, they succeed. But when I first watched ‘The ABC’s of Death‘ last year, it was a completely different set up.
The whole gimmick with ‘ABC’s‘ is that the studio handpicks 26 directors from around the world and gives them one letter of the alphabet and a small budget. Each director has to come up with a word that starts with their letter and shoot a short between 2-6 minutes of a death related to the word they chose. It’s quite an ambitious feat for the producers and one brilliant idea, because in the end, you have 26 different films from 26 different visions and directors. Some are gory, some are funny, some are bizarre, and some are completely psychotic. But one thing is for sure, every film is very entertaining.
So now in 2014, we have the sequel and it’s just as fun and entertaining as the first outing. With directors such as the Soska Sisters, Vincenzo Natali, Larry Fessenden, and Alejandro Brugues, these group of short films do not disappoint. Highlights that stick out is one by the Soska Sisters called ‘Torture Porn‘, which has a beautiful young female model being ridiculed and abused by a few photographers on set, when the model turns into a tentacle raping demon on her male attackers. Another great short has two guys stranded on a paradise island alone, who are living the good life while trying to get rescued. And while it looks like it’s made all in one shot, a girl washes up on shore and messes the balance between the two friends. It was quite comical and had no dialogue.
Two segments really scared the piss out of me, one started off with a young woman looking out of her high rise apartment to see a floating sphere above a neighboring building that when disappears, all of the tenants in the building turn into murderous maniacs, and they all turn to her gaze and come after her. The other segment was a black and white short that featured a Russian Roulette storyline with a big twist at the end. Other segments included giant penises, bath salts, a masked intruder with a hammer, and a claymation sketch that was one of the creepiest and weirdest things I’ve ever watched.
The final segment was titled ‘Zygote‘ for Z, and literally made my squirm out of my seat as one mother is literally too attached to her child who wants to move on. ‘The ABC’s of Death‘ is not for everyone, but if you’re any kind of fan of horror and way-out weird stuff, then you don’t want to miss this sequel. I can’t wait to show this film to my unsuspecting friends late at night.
'ABC's of Death 2' comes with an impressive 1080p HD transfer presented in 1.78:1 aspect ratio. Since this film comes from 26 different filmmakers with 26 different pieces of camera equipment and even from other parts of the world, the video image could be a bit wonky at times, depending on the type of equipment used. But for the most part, this picture looks very good. The detail in most of the segments is very sharp and vivid, revealing all sorts of gory guts and goo with precise clarity.
Individual hairs, scars, wounds, blood, wrinkles, and makeup effects look phenomenal throughout, with the exception of a couple of segments that were filmed on shoddier equipment. Colors in certain segments, when not hindered in post production, simply pop off screen and are well saturated. Even if some of the original source colors that were muted for effect look great. Black levels are always deep and inky and skin tones are natural. There were no major issues with banding, aliasing, or video noise, leaving this video with top marks.
This release comes with an excellent lossless DTS-HD 5.1 audio mix and it sounds great. Each splat, slice, gooey splash, crunch, and gurgle can be heard with great effect and clarity here. It is sure to make you squirm out of your seat. These sound effects were amped up just for that reason. They sound full, robust, and full of life and terror.
The ambient noises also creep up the rear speakers that will cause you to look behind you and see if there was something on the wall or behind the door. The dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to follow, and free of any pops, cracks, hissing, or big shrills. Every bit of sound is well balances and layered with some good directionality. The LFE is excellent and the dynamic range is very wide, leaving this audio presentation with great marks.
Audio Commentary - All 26 segments have commentary tracks that run seamlessly throughout the film. Each director or actor discusses their own segment along with CEO of Alamo Drafthouse Tim League. They discuss how they filmed the movie in the small time period and the fun time they all had making these gory horror shorts. Worth the listen.
Behind the Scenes (HD, 97 Mins.) - 19 out of the 26 segments have some form of bonus material, whether it be a photo gallery, an all out behind the scenes featurette, interviews, makeup effects, auditions, storyboards, or on set footage. Wish there was an "all play" function here, but there isn't. And even some of the extras, have sub menus for even more extra options. All of these are worth watching and range in time lengths from 19 seconds to 30 minutes. The stand out feature here was from the Soska Sisters for 'T is for Torture Porn'.
AXS TV: A Look at 'ABC's of Death 2' (HD, 3 Mins.) - An all too quick look at the making of a couple of segments from the film, with mostly clips from the film and the various filmmakers saying a word or two about their segment.
Trailers (HD, 6 Mins.) - A few other trailers from Magnet.
'The ABC's of Death 2' is a solid sequel that keeps the horror shorts alive and well. Some segments pack a powerful punch and cause some genuine scares and thrills, while other fall short or make you laugh. No matter which side of the spectrum they're on, these are all great attempts and executions at horror filmmaking. The video and audio presentations are both excellent and the vast amount of extras are all worth looking at. If you're a fan of horror, this is a must own.