Alphabetizing Slaughter with Mixed Results

by Hope Madden

A project built from short horror films is nothing new in Columbus. Local groups routinely gather would-be filmmakers, provide a theme and set them loose.

Set such a thing on an international stage, draw on some of the best new (and new-ish) genre filmmakers, and you have The ABCs of Death, an uneven but fascinating smattering of horrific ideas, each tied to one letter of the alphabet.

Strap in, though. Twenty six films turn out to be quite a lot in one sitting, even if they clock in at around 4 minutes apiece. Some felt as swift as that running time suggests. Others seemed to go on for an unendurable length of time. (I’m looking at you, letter L.)

But any who’s who in horror, from semi-established international talent (Xavier Gens, Banjong Pisanthanakun, Ernesto Diaz Espinoza, Ben Wheatley, Nacho Vigalondo), to a mishmash of American filmmakers (Jason Eisener, Ti West, Adam Wingard), is bound to offer hit and miss results.

Take Noboru Igushi’s clip, example.  F is not for favorite.

Igushi is just one of several filmmakers (including two animators) distressingly preoccupied with toilet matters. Ti West – a study in the law of diminishing returns – likewise fixates his tale for the letter M. Of the many bathroom-related flicks, only Lee Hardcastle’s claymation vision “T is for Toilet” is worth watching.

Others segments pack a punch, though. Among the best are Marcel Sarmiento’s gritty but satisfying “D is for Dogfight”, Gens’s bodily horror “X is for XXL”, and Jake West’s fascinating reality check “S is for Speed”.

Timo Tjahjanto is one of several filmmakers linking horror and porn in a way that implicates viewers, and his effort, “L is for Libido”, is a mixed result. Perhaps with just 4 minutes, a sledgehammer approach to the point was needed. But I doubt I would have made it through the film had it been much longer, so that’s not really a complaint.

Yoshihiro Nishimura proves he knows how to make the most of his miniscule running time. No, size does not seem to matter in Z is for Zetsumetsu (Japanese for extinction), the film that packs more confetti exploding inflatable knife penises in four minutes than any film since Hannah and Her Sisters.

Good thing his flick was last. It’s hard to picture anyone following that batshit crazy piece of filmmaking.

3 stars (out of 5)

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