Magazine article Screen International

John Dies at the End

Magazine article Screen International

John Dies at the End

Article excerpt

Dir/scr Don Coscarelli. US. 2012. 99mins

From the director of the sci-fi horror Phantasm flicks and 2002's Bubba Ho-Tep, which pitted an elderly Elvis against an evil mummy, comes this comic-horror lark full of severed limbs, squishy insects and demonic alternative worlds. While the story doesn't always follow a logical trajectory and the characters are shallow vessels for eyeball explosions and other well-executed low-budget shock effects, John Dies At The End offers some mildly diverting fun for fans of this sort of thing, most likely on VOD and other new media outlets.

Coscarelli, a contemporary of George Romero, clearly enjoys some of the same torn apart flesh, blown-up heads and empty malls as the Night Of The Living Dead horror maestro.

Cut down by 10 minutes from its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, where Magnet Releasing acquired US rights, John Dies At The End follows post-collegiate slacker David (Chase Williamson) experiencing the most frightening head-trip of his life. When we first meet the young man, he's going about his everyday business, which includes severing the head of a zombie in his backyard.

We soon learn that David and his buddy John (Rob Mayes) have a special talent for dealing with supernatural intruders from the underworld. Nothing appears as it seems for the two paranoid fighters: a young girl's head explodes into snakes; a doorknob turns into a penis; and pounds of beef and a turkey in a meat locker combine to form a nefarious monster. (Much of the film has a sickly yellow-greenish pallor, which heightens the surreal feel).

Sitting in a Chinese restaurant, David recounts his story to a skeptical reporter, Arnie (Paul Giamatti, who may be out of place here, but commits entirely to the world). David narrates his incredible adventure, which begins with his accidental injection of "soy sauce," a liquid black drug that gives the user special intuitive powers and puts them face to face with an evil parallel universe. …

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