Tag Archives: anthology films

Come with Me and Be Immortal


by Hope Madden

Countless movies over the years have pondered what it might feel like to be immortal. Writer Jon Dabach, in four separate tales with one thread in common, wonders what it would be like not to be able to die.

His film Immortal strings together these stories, each one directed by a different person (Tom Colley, Danny Isaacs, Rob Margolies and Dabach himself), each one depicting one person’s relationship with deathlessness.

The composite contains a horror short, two thrillers and one anguished romance.

Chelsea, starring the great Dylan Baker, offers a somewhat overwritten first act. Baker is beloved old high school English teacher Mr. Shagis, Chelsea (Lindsay Mushet) is the school’s star athlete, and today’s lesson is symbolism.

Baker’s as nuanced and fascinating as always in a short that starts things off with a solid smack.

Of the balance, Mary and Ted is most effective. Assisted suicide advocates film a video of the longtime married couple played lovingly by Robin Bartlett and Tony Todd. We, along with the crew, get to know them—their love, their suffering—and then the crew leaves them to their task.

I feel like I want to send Dabach a thank you note for this one, just to see Tony Todd this tender. The sub-baritone voiced horror icon (Candyman, Night of the Living Dead) delicately wields emotion and heartbreak here in a way we’ve certainly never seen from this actor. Bartlett offers an outstanding counterpoint, the believable resignation in her delivery weighing down every line.

A hit and run victim exacts precise revenge in Warren, which takes a particularly solitary view: So you just found out you can’t die. What do you do now? The absolute ordinariness, the down-to-earthiness of this one’s delivery—as well as the charmingly odd investigator—give it real appeal.

Even the one that feels most predictable takes a wildly unpredictable turn—one the filmmakers do not shy away from capturing on film. In each, there’s an element of discovery that punctuates the story. Dabach and his team of directors capture a wide range of emotions and attitudes, but leave the audience wondering just enough.

Immortal is essentially an anthology of short films, and in fact, the pieces do not intersect, nor do they clarify much. Instead, they offer four slices of life—well, slices of not death—and an intriguing look at what death means to us.

Alphabetized Mayhem

ABCs of Death 2

by Hope Madden

Children’s stories can be so inventive! Tired of telling the old “a is for apple” tale? ABCs of Death 2 may be just the movie for you.

Actually, it started two years ago, when fans of the horror short were challenged to endure a marathon event – 26 shorts, each dedicated to one letter of the alphabet. ABCsof Death pulled together 26 up-and-coming horror directors (or directing teams), each with their own letter. Their product varied from inspired to horrifying to extreme to forgettable to lame with a lot of middling efforts in between.

If nothing else, the filmmakers truly seemed to be having fun, which explains why 26 new directors (or directing teams) wanted in. Brace yourself for the sequel: 26 new alphabetically inclined films about death.

This time around the quality of the efforts is a little better balanced. Only two films really stand out as weak, and even those boast professional workmanship. The films in the sequel feel less like a cinematic dare and more like a well thought out, if brief, horror film.

On the other hand, the original work felt more vital where the sequel feels safe. The sequel lacks some of the maverick WTF quality of the first, with far fewer extreme moments. There’s also far less toilet horror, so at least there’s that.

Highlights include Robert Morgan’s D – an animated nightmare that’s part Kafka, part Burroughs yet somehow uniquely bizarre.

Dennison Ramalho’s J offers a well made piece of social commentary, as does the film for the letter T by Jen and Sylvia Soska.

The highlight from last year’s effort belonged to Frenchman Xavier Gens, whose take on X was startling and exceptional. Once again, the letter X falls to the French, and once again, the French film is among the very strongest. Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo re-team with Beatrice Dalle – the muse at the center of their brilliant 2007 feature Inside – to unsettle and horrify.

You’re unlikely to be disappointed by any individual piece. The whole may be less memorable than its 2012 predecessor, but for genre fans, it’s always fascinating to glimpse work from new filmmakers and to see what established directors can do with three minutes and a letter.