Thursday, January 3, 2013

Movie Review: John Dies At The End (2013) Dir. Don Coscarelli

"Do you ever wonder why, if you hear a word for the first time, you'll invariably hear it again within twenty-four hours? Or why you sometimes see a single shoe at the side of the road? I have been watching your species for a long time. I once watched a man who masturbated until he bled. Why did he do that?"

John Dies At The End by Don Coscarelli
Rating 3.5 out of 5 stars

Blurb: STOP. You should not have visited this review with your unprotected browser. NO, don't close the tab. It's too late. They're watching you. His name is David Wong. His best friend is John. Those names are fake. You might want to change yours. You may not want to know about the things you'll see in this movie, about the sauce, about Korrok, about the invasion, and the future. But it's too late. You read this blurb. You're in the game. You're under the eye. The only defence is knowledge. You need to watch this movie, to the end. Even the part with the bratwurst. Why? You just have to trust me.

The important thing is this: The drug is called Soy Sauce and it gives users a window into another dimension. John and David never had the chance to say no. You still do. David and John are sorry to have involved you in this, they really are. But as you watch these terrible events and the very dark epoch the world is about to enter as a result, it is crucial you keep one thing in mind: None of this was their fault.

Thoughts: Adapted from the cult book by David Wong, Don Coscarelli (Bubba Ho-Tep, Phantasm) has added another bizarre mix of horror and comedy to his growing collection of cult favourite movies.

Whilst the low production values occasional undermine the quality of the piece this is overall a highly enjoyable movie, if you can get past the bizarre nature of the story and the haphazard approach to plot that is. The CGI is a step up from Bubba Ho-Tep but is still verging on silly and distracting, however for the amount of money spent on this film I am not going to be overly critical. The physical effects on the other hand were great, the scene with the eyes exploding one of the more memorable and impressive effects in the film.

To call this a strange movie just might be an understatement, the plot involves Dave and John, two friends who get mixed up in a pan-dimensional conspiracy involving paranormal Rastafarian drug dealers, sentient flying killer moustaches, parasitic toothed slugs, arachnicide, phone calls that defy time and space, an alternative world known as Eyes Wide Shut world, and a hairy sentient oil known only as "Soy Sauce" that allows the user to levitate, speak with the dead, read minds, plus a scene with a door handle that transforms in to a big black dildo.

The two lead actors feel a little lightweight but as far as I can see this was their first time working on a real movie, Chase Williamson looks like a poor man's Thomas Dekker and just graduated from acting school, so this is a bit of coup for him, whilst Rob Mayes can be seen in a whole bunch of straight to video teen movies which I'm sure we won't hold against him. Backing them up is a collection of the usual teen characters plus Paul Giamatti as a reporter and a minor yet important role for Clancy Brown as some form of televangelist/saviour of mankind.

You may not be aware that this film was made available for streaming via iTunes and Amazon by the movies distribution company prior to a January 25th limited run in cinemas. They also released the following amusing trailer asking viewers to help support independent cinema rather than illegally downloading something which I also encourage you to do:

There have been other reviews which criticise the film for being top heavy, for fading towards the end and they have a point. The big jokes do litter the opening sequences and you're given the impression that the movie you are about to watch will be one thing before it becomes something almost entirely different. The plot does seem to rely heavily on exposition dumps and effect with no cause, in more than ways than is healthy and it comes across as a funnier, more horrific and better made Dude, Where's My Car? also. But for this viewer those small negatives merely stop it from becoming great rather than making it unwatchable.

I didn't feel the need to read this book first and I don't feel the need to read it now; Don Coscarelli has created something that seems to stand alone, both as an adaptation and a strange and enjoyable piece of compulsive viewing. The bizarre nature of the film leaves me at a loss for things to tell you without too many spoilers but also I think one viewing on its own is not enough to fully comprehend the content. I hope you all pay Don Coscarelli for this film and enjoy it as much or more than I did.


  1. Oooo I've been wanting to see this one for a while, glad to hear it's fun and weird! I didn't know it had a digital release, I'll get it that way if it doesn't come out in Boston.

    1. naturally seeing this one in a cinema with like minded people would be awesome but the digital download was good and with your home cinema set up it will only require friends and booze to match it for experience.