on 4 December 2013
Not exactly sure what John who dies at the End is, but I like it. With its invention and flagrant disregard for coherent narrative, John... is both an interesting 'what if' and a wholly effective horror comedy. Coscarelli's singular voice in horror is the only one who could bring this to life, whether it's the man made out of meat, the door that is 'impossible to open', or some of the more far out stuff of the third act. The film is full of little ideas and touches that reward as both an insane spectacle and as an element that will bring different views to light on multiple rewatches. Couldn't be less accessible if it tried, but anyone at home with Don Coscarelli's flair will settle down in no time. The biggest problem for me was that it simply wasn't enough, the unsuccessful TV pilot analogy feels apt. I want more. Here's hoping the the other book in the series (This Book Is Full Of Spiders: Seriously Dude Dont Touch It) gets adapted by Coscarelli too.
Good grief where do I start with this one. I think this might be what would happen if David Lynch made a Bill and Ted film.
A couple of young fellas (John and David) take a new bizarre drug called Soy Sauce and are gifted/cursed with various strange powers. These include telepathy, time travel and resurrection of the dead. Handy stuff to have really as our heroes are thrown into a convoluted plot where they are tasked with saving the world from a possibly alien species from another dimension. I think. It's a difficult film to summarise as its so bloody bonkers.
The main characters drift through the film from one crazy scenario to the next encountering all manner of other bizarre characters. There are so many ideas being thrown in and various genres are covered. Some of it works and frankly some of it doesn't, some of it makes no sense at all. But for all that its still oddly compelling and entertaining, the sheer invention on display kept me hooked. There's plenty of humour and its certainly not boring, worth a look if you fancy something a bit different.
on 16 April 2014
This overlooked horror parody has a bit of a pedigree to it. “Phantasm” famed cult horror film director Don Coscarelli not only directed this film but he wrote the screen play.
John dies at the end started off as a webserial by David Wong (real name Jason Pargin) back in 2001 and grew and evolved since, to it is now current form of a novel, sequel and film.
When I saw the film, I had previously read the book, already I was at an advantage. I loved the book. I thought it was witty, camp and a load of fun. The themes seemed to be a mixture of Gen-X and Lovecraftian references thrown in. Not to mention that Molly, the dog, often steals the show.
Soy sauce is for John and David as Spice was to the world of Dune and the root of most of their problems. Soy sauce is what enlightens them and what ultimately curses them; mainly because it is pure evil.
This is a surreal adventure with time spent in other universe and dimensions. It is a thinking film, like so many of Terry Gilliam’s films. It takes time to process all the information and scenarios. You may have to watch it more than once to fully appreciate it.
Verdict: The book is still better than the film and I suggest you read the book first to really get what is lacking from the film. If you choose to just jump right into the film- Keep an open mind. There is a lot of Cthulu mythos and 80′s American horror film reference that the average viewer probably won’t get. It is still a very humourous film with plenty of gags and insane situations, so for that I give it 3 of 5 stars.
on 12 May 2013
Ummm... What did I just watch?
When this was good, it was very good. But it wasn't... I got confused.
Ok, that bad points - the script is not in any way tight, and there were not only a number of scenes that were wholly redundant, but also there were several plot holes - "we can't cross to your dimension even though we have this Super Megamind... but these tiny insects can for no other reason than we say they can.... wait, why doesn't Super Megamind just absorb the insects?".
The good points, I liked the premise; "soy sauce" was really good, and the scene where the door handle turns into a penis was very funny. The whole setup with the phone was pure genius, and when Dave started talking into the hot dog I cracked up. If you can get past the stoner-esque set up and accept some general weirdness, then this is a pretty ok film.
One question thought; why is the film called "John Dies At The End"?
on 28 April 2013
The best way to describe this film is "Phantasm" on drugs. Dave (Chase Williamson) and John (Rob Mayes) are friends who are attempting to save the universe, or at least our planet. They have been chosen to do so by the drug "Soy Sauce" which gives them remarkable insight that is more like a bad acid trip.
The film is quirky and humorous, but not a side splitter. The dialouge is cute and clever for most of the film, but to the point of ad nauseam.
For those who like the "Scott Pilgrim..." quick style, check it out.
Parental Guide: F-bomb, no sex. Nudity.
on 29 October 2015
The Australian classification reads "....Strong horror violence, themes, crude humour and course language." Censorship classifications are so misleading sometimes. Of course, there are elements of the former in the film, but it happens to be one of the most funny, satyrical, and genre bending movies I have seen in a long time. This film was so good I read everything the book's author, David Wong (..." I changed it to Wong because it's the most common name in the world, and it makes it easier for me to hide.") had published on Kindle. I REALLY hope that "This Book is Full of Spiders,,,Really...", and his latest, "Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits", also get made into films. This movie is full of satire, wit, double entendre, penis jokes (non gratuitous), and a healthily-sarcastic look at the whole horror genre. The movie, and the books are fresh, funny as could be, and well worth the reading, AND filming the two which have not made it to the cinema yet. As a bonus, the film was done completely digitally, so the better your screen is, the sweeter the photography is. It's obviously a low-budget movie, but it is done so well it just does not matter. I am no fan of zombie or horror movies in general, but this does not take them seriously either. Enjoy the laughs and the ride. I'm surprised this has taken so long to creep more into the public mindset. I certainly hope it continues to gain lots of attention, and garner the success it deserves. A five star black comedy. Do NOT hesitate to buy. As a postscript, the sound is stunning. They've achieved a lot with a small budget!
Within the first fifteen minutes, you will see a meat-demon (as in, made out of cuts of meat) blasted apart by a television psychic via a cell phone.
And that has nothing to do with the plot.
If that doesn't tip you off that "John Dies at the End" is kind of a weird movie, then don't worry -- there are a million other ways it will let you know. This is a mad hybrid of Lovecraftian horror/slacker comedy, operating entirely on its own insane internal logic -- where else can you find a sentient drug, a flying mustache, a skinhead zombie and a Ship of Theseus paradox involving an axe?
As the story opens, David Wong (Chase Williamson) is in a Chinese restaurant, chronicling his adventures with his friend John (Rob Mayes) to a rather skeptical journalist (Paul Giamatti). What are their adventures about? Well, these two ordinary slackers are actually low-level paranormal investigators, dealing with grotesque hellish abominations in their small Midwestern town.
One night, John calls Dave in a paranoid panic, apparently high on some kind of weird black liquid called "soy sauce." Soy sauce is a sentient drug that makes you see things as they truly are, bend time, phone people in he future, etc. When John apparently dies at the police station, Dave ends up being pursued by a suspicious cop with a can of gasoline (Glynn Turman) and a gangsta-wannabe who is possessed by a nameless evil.
Also, a dog is involved. And a doorway into another dimension. And a weird guy who sticks giant alien leeches on Dave. And a TV psychic called Marconi. And an immense technological horror that threatens all worlds. You know, the usual.
As you can tell, "John Dies At The End" is a little hard to summarize, especially since a summary doesn't really address the rich insanity of the world they live in -- I mean, Dave tells us early in the movie that he once saw a kidney "grow tentacles, tear itself out of a ragged hole in his back and go slapping across my kitchen floor." And no, that has nothing to do with the plot either.
Cult director Don Coscarelli plays the events of the movie as being like a slacker comedy, except that these perpetually stoned-looking young men are dealing with icky slimy sucker-faced supernatural horrors. The dialogue is overwhelmed with deadpan humor ("Is there any way that you can steal my body?") and absurdity. The weird just piles up as the movie goes on, and is rarely treated as being anything THAT unusual or shocking -- my sister says it's a world where Lovecraftian madness-from-truth is just the way things are.
Just a warning for fans of David Wong's original novel, though. Coscarelli has to cut out giant chunks of the novel's convoluted plot, which means that occasionally we bump into a subplot/theme that doesn't make much sense on its own (the axe opener).
And yeah, when you look at the movie overall, it's... incredibly weird and confusing. You might have to watch it a few times before your brain hits the right notes. Or, if the soy sauce turned into a fly and flew into your mouth, you might already understand it.
Chase Williamson and Rob Mayes are a pretty fun pair of characters -- they're very matter-of-fact about all the weird stuff they do, both as the stone-faced Dave and the somewhat more manic John. And they're backed by equally off-kilter performances by Paul Giamatti, Clancy Brown, Doug Jones, Fabianne Therese, Jimmy Wong and Tai Bennett (as a "magical Jamaican" on the sauce). Everybody's acting is weird and strangely dreamlike here, and it fits the story perfectly.
"John Dies At The End" (no, the title really isn't a spoiler) is a mad, icky, bizarre little story that takes some getting used to -- but is a fun little ride along the way. Give it a try, especially if you're on soy sauce.
on 8 September 2014
Coscarelli films often have a subtext, but this one is just fun. It is definitely unconventional, but quirky and enjoyable. If you are uncomfortable with the kind of narrative structure and shifts you find in South Korean films (for example) and prefer simple conventional narratives, this may not be for you. But if you like wry and surreal humour and fantasy, this is well worth a watch.
on 29 October 2015
This film is like a comedy version of Existenz. It's impossible to describe the plot besides timeline-fusing madness. But as long as you grasp the thread of what's happening early on, and continue to pay attention, it is surprisingly possible to follow. As a mark of a good surreal film, it all just works - yes, it's insane, but it creates its own universe that you can gleefully be a part of for a while. The casting is great too - I never heard of the main two actors, but they both have an effortlessly likeable quality. Paul Giamatti provides solid support too. So basically, watch it when you know you'll be paying attention and feel like something that will work out the leetle grey cells a bit - and you will have a good time!
on 26 October 2014
Well what can I say other than a good LSD ride before the show would maybe make you understand this movie better but hey not everyone is into that so let me try and explain. Firstly it's not about John it's about his friend, they seem to come across this magical drug that they call soy sauce which basically makes them see things like future in time the dead that can speak witout knowing they are dead, plus a whole lot of other weird s*** that happens to them on this fantastic ride of nonsence that actually could make sence. Please if you see this in a store or on a shelf it's definately worth a watch at least once as I was in stiches trying to understand the whole story, I still often think if I have worked it out or not.