This weekend at the Logan, the alphabet . . . in horror films | Bleader

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

This weekend at the Logan, the alphabet . . . in horror films

Posted By on 03.06.13 at 06:52 AM

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F Is for Fart
  • Drafthouse Films
  • "F Is for Fart"
This weekend the Logan presents late shows of The ABCs of Death, a bulging horror/fantasy anthology film (130 minutes with the end credits) to which an international assortment of filmmakers have contributed episodes of three or four minutes, each taking death as its theme and a letter of the alphabet as its inspiration. An opening title warns that no one under 18 will be admitted, and in point of fact the movie is pretty extreme, trading heavily in sadism (in Simon Rumley's "P Is for Pressure" a poor mother is driven to make an animal "crush film"); misogyny (in Jorge Michel Grau's "I Is for Ingrown," a woman chained in a bathtub is injected by her captor and dies horribly); scatology (in Noboru Iguchi's "F Is for Fart," a schoolgirl in love with her teacher bathes in the yellow gas from the woman's backside); and self-mutilation (in Xavier Gens's "X Is for XXL," a fat woman taunted for her looks decides to carve off her own flesh). It's enough to make you wish they'd take some letters out of the alphabet.

You'll notice that most of the filmmakers above are men, while many of their afflicted characters are women. I'll leave that to their respective shrinks, but I will point out that one of the better episodes, "E Is for Exterminate," comes from one of the few women contributing: Angela Bettis, best known for playing the title character in May (2002). "Exterminate" is a simple but nifty arachnophobic nightmare in which a guy is bitten by a spider in his apartment and spends the next week vainly hunting for it while it watches and waits, its point of view suggested with a blurred lens and electronic tones. Finally the guy swats and flushes the spider, but as he gapes in the mirror, little spiders crawl from his ear.

H Is for Hydro-Elecric Diffusion
  • "H Is for Hydro-Elecric Diffusion"
Nothing else in the film beats Thomas Cappelen Malling's crazed, cartoony live-action segment "H Is for Hydro-Electric Diffusion," which opens with the iron tones of Winston Churchill's "We shall fight on the beaches" speech and transpires in a surreal strip club with actors in full animal costume. An English bulldog in RAF gear sits at a table panting for the feline stripper headlining the show, but when she reveals herself to be a Nazi spy they do battle on the red-carpeted stage. The digital effects draw heavily on the Warner Brothers cartoons, with eyeballs and tonsils stretching out to outrageous lengths as the titans clash.

Considering all the gore, you have to admire an effort like Ernesto Diaz Espinoza's "C Is for Cycle," which has one bloody moment but turns mainly on a conceptual gimmick. A man is awakened by his wife to go check on a noise in their house, and when he ventures out into the backyard he encounters an ominous hole that seems to suck him down below ground; waking up, he goes back inside to find himself in bed and realizes he's traveled back in time and become the very prowler she feared. The doppelganger moments reminded me of some of the head games in Mario Bava's low-budget Italian classic Kill, Baby . . . Kill! (1966).

Q Is for Quack
  • "Q Is for Quack"
Adam Wingard (Autoerotic) manages to put a little distance between himself and the project with "Q Is for Quack," a ludicrous meta-movie goof that opens with his initial idea for the segment—involving Christmas lights and a topless babe—coming apart at the scenes. He and screenwriter Simon Barrett decide they need an actual on-screen death to top everyone else, so they go out to the desert with a caged duck and a couple of revolvers and stupidly wind up shooting each other instead of the bird. The whole thing probably wouldn't be as funny if not for Mikhail Glinka's "Valse Fantasie in B Minor" being sampled immoderately on the soundtrack. "Dedicated to Mister Quackers the Duck," read the end credits for the segment. "May you find the peace in death that you could not find in life." Despite all the carnage racked up in the movie, Mister Quackers' was the only death that touched my heart.

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