John Dies at the End (2012)
Directed by Don Coscarelli
Living in NYC has its perks when it comes to premiere screenings. In this case, courtesy of Bloody Disgusting I got to go to the NYC premiere of John Dies at the End, the new film from Phantasm and Bubba Ho-Tep director Don Coscarelli. The awesome perk was Coscarelli and Exective Producer Paul Giamatti were in attendance and did a Q&A after the screening. Now that's awesome sauce for a random weekday.
I've been hyped to see JDATE as it's been hyped since its festival run. But now out on demand, to see it on the big screen with pure horror fans is the only way to see it. So what can I say about this cult book that is now a cult movie?
John Dies at the End is all that is great with indie horror cinema. It's full of wacky and memorable characters and every scene oozes more WTF from the last. It is Bill and Ted but for horror fans. The premise is so kooky, it's like you're seeing a mental patients wet dream. What JDATE does is really smack you with 80s horror ingenuity, spew out comedic literature a mile a minute while making sure you have no idea what's going to happen next.
It's really a fun horror comedy that is this year's Tucker and Dale. Dave and John (our main protagonists) are a dynamic duo who tackle apocalyptic evil in a most hilarious way possible. I had a feeling John Dies would be on my Top 10 list of 2012.
Once I finished seeing it, I knew exactly where to put it.
A new street drug that sends its users across time and dimensions has one drawback: some people return as no longer human. Can two college dropouts save humankind from this silent, otherworldly invasion?
You really do have to be in the right frame of mind to see a Don Coscarelli movie. You have to expect the zany, the weird and the unexpected. And what it equals is the same as going through a car wash for your brain. It's gonna be a soapy mess but it's going to make sense at the end.
We meet David Wong, our intrepid know it all noob psychic who wants to tell his somewhat tall tale to Arnie, a reporter as skeptical like the rest of us. Seems Dave has experienced a crazy adventure with his friend John (who according to the title, seems to die at the end). As Dave does his slacker thing, he meets a spooky Jamaican, a handless cute girl and soon accidentally gets hit with the "soy sauce", a drug that fucks shit up for him and John. Aided by a TV psychic Marconi and questioned then evading the cops, Dave and John go into the realm of the surreal and one can only wonder what the fuck is actually going on?
John Dies actually is linear if you can believe it. But it's pretty bizarre as wacky shit happens to both Dave...and Dave and well it seems crazy shit always happens to Dave. Once they're both "sauced" it's clearly smack in the head crazy. Going in Evil Dead Raimi-ish territory, evil creatures lurk for Dave to battle, though guarded in a Force like way by John. The visuals are seemingly like a lucid dream, jam packed with moments that are hilarious and had me LOL-ing.
Chase Williamson (Dave) and Rob Mayes (John) are relatively unknown actors and they play buddies perfectly. Throw in a host of "That Guy!" actors and Paul Giamatti, it's an acting bonanza that has some straight and zig zag moments. The dialogue including a voice over narration is chock full of Buffy like dialogue, an homage to the book (which I've never read but will now) written by "David Wong" who is actually Jason Pargin a Senior Editor at Cracked.com. As a reader of Cracked.com, the dialogue reminds me of one of their list articles, full of pop culture references and tangent weirdness.
Full of memorable side characters, decent non CGI effects and a meat monster, I write this chuckling to myself because even though it sounds cheesy, the damn film works on so many levels. It's a horror comedy and it made me laugh for its 99 minute run time and that's pretty much how effective it was. In a sense, John Dies was my soy sauce, and for a few hours, I was higher than a man in a space suit about to jump from the stratosphere.
It's only drawback is it won't hook the mainstream. It's so out there that even the younglings of today will be confused. Also, though the evil is a little on the SyFy-ish level and on that note, whatever was written in the book is probably unfilmmable. I'll have to read the book to be sure. I'm pretty sure choice cuts were needed to make a comprehensible movie.
It's one of the best movies of 2012 as it hits all the right notes on how effective indie horror can be when you can take the source material and be faithful to the essence of why it's a cult classic. Yes John Dies will be the strangest horror movie you will see this year. But it's the drug you need to take.
Shit, it's legal in all 48, including Hawaii and Alaska I think. Say Yes to JDATE.
An alternate universe full of topless minions
Entrails and gore and all things not nice
Blood and guts all done funny
The entire fuckin movie
The Jaded Viewer's Final Prognosis
John Dies at the End is out now. It comes to theaters Jan 25th.
On Demand: http://on.fb.me/VfAMJ2
If you want to see an awesome horror comedy that's not Cabin in the Woods, this be it.
Check out the trailer.