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Haunted Sideshow

Dustin Putman

ABCs of Death 2  (2014)

Reviewed for by Dustin Putman

The Film
0.5 Stars
(Release Date: February 3, 2015) – 2013's "The ABCs of Death" was hit-or-miss in the extreme, a horror anthology consisting of 26 short films from 26 directors, each one representing a different letter of the alphabet. The formula remains the same but the already-chancy quality goes straight down the tubes in the appallingly bad "ABCs of Death 2." The opening credits, emulating a child's macabre pop-up book, are playful yet creepy. The final tale, Chris Nash's "Z is for Zygote," stars Delphine Roussel in a crafty, skin-crawling fable about a woman who remains pregnant for thirteen years as her child continues to grow inside her. As for the almost two hours in between these bookends, let's just say the sole bright spot is that each inept interlude is only a few minutes long. With each new short, there is the renewed chance that it will turn things around, but even the few with promise—Kristina Buozyte's alien-invasion thriller "K is for Knell; " Larry Fessenden's Halloween-themed "N is for Nexus," and Jerome Sable's brutal infidelity terror trip "V is for Vacation"—either don't suitably pay off, are too obvious, or leave an acrid taste in one's mouth.

It is stunning to think that two bakers' dozen worth of filmmakers (many of them established talents such as Rodney Ascher of 2012's "Room 237", Vincenzo Natali of 2010's "Splice," and Jen and Sylvia Soska of 2013's "American Mary") were given free rein to do whatever they wanted, and yet not a single one achieves anything approaching genuine fright. Moronic, juvenile, and rampantly sexist to an outright distasteful degree, the bulk of the stories feature women who are demoralized, cast as hookers and/or depicted as evil, vengeful villains. A few of the shorts are so unspeakably incompetent (paging Alejandro Brugués's "E is for Equilibrium" and Lancelot Oduwa Imasuen's "L is for Legacy") the mind boggles how they are even seeing the light of day. Audiences seeking a chill up their spine or even a few laughs will still be waiting by the time "ABCs of Death 2" comes to its merciful close. This cavalcade of sophomoric, mean-spirited schlock is an embarrassment, putting to shame all of the exciting, limitless possibilities the horror genre has to offer.

Read Dustin's Theatrical Review

Blu-ray Picture/Sound

It is to be expected that an anthology featuring 26 segments, each one made by different filmmakers, would vary in look, style and lighting, and such is the case with "ABCs of Death 2." With such disparate source material, however, the 1080p transfer is quite the stunner. The pop-up storybook credits offer glorious visual depth, while the accompanying music score is chilling and full of range, an immersive start to the top-flight, wholly active 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. From there, the shorts proper are rich in clarity and contrast. Shadow detail is inky and brooding, while primary colors pop. A couple fleeting instances of banding can be seen during fade-outs, while the background thicket of branches and underbrush in "B is for Badger" feature minor but noticeable moiré. All in all, this is an excellent high-def and lossless audio presentation.

Blu-ray Features
  • Filmmakers' Commentary
  • A is for Amateur
    • "Making Of" Featurette (5:01, HD)
  • C is for Capital Punishment
    • Production Stills Gallery
  • D is for Deloused
    • "Meet the Puppets" Featurette (2:08, HD)
    • Production Stills Gallery
  • E is for Equilibrium
    • "Behind the Scenes" Featurette (2:36, HD)
    • Behind the Scenes Photo Gallery
  • F is for Falling
    • Behind the Scenes Photo Gallery
  • I is for Invincible
    • Behind the Scenes Photo Gallery
  • J is for Jesus
    • Behind the Scenes Photo Gallery
  • L is for Legacy
    • "Behind the Scenes" Featurette (3:35, HD)
    • Behind the Scenes Photo Gallery
  • N is for Nexus
    • "Making Of: Day One of Twelve" Featurette (3:59, HD)
    • On the Set Photo Gallery
  • O is for Ochlocracy
    • Behind the Scenes Photo Gallery
  • Q is for Questionnaire
    • "Make-Up & FX: Brain" Raw Footage (0:19, HD)
    • Behind the Scenes Photo Gallery
    • Storyboards
  • R is for Roulette
    • Behind the Scenes Photo Gallery
  • S is for Split
    • "Behind the Scenes" Featurette (5:03, HD)
    • Behind the Scenes Photo Gallery
  • T is for Torture Porn
    • "Making Of" Featurette (28:44, HD)
    • Behind the Scenes Photo Gallery
  • U is for Utopia
    • "Behind the Scenes" Featurette (9:11, HD)
    • Audition Footage (1:50, HD)
    • Storyboards
    • Production Stills Gallery
  • V is for Vacation
    • Behind the Scenes Photo Gallery
  • W is for Wish
    • "Making Of" Featurette (5:16, HD)
    • Behind the Scenes Photo Gallery
  • Y is for Youth
    • "Making Of" Featurette (19:35, HD)
    • Behind the Scenes Photo Gallery
    • Storyboards
  • Z is for Zygote
    • "The 55th Trimester: Behind the Scenes" Featurette (6:06, HD)
  • "AXS TV: A Look at ABCs of Death 2" Featurette (2:23, HD)
Bottom Line
Here is where things get tricky as a Blu-ray reviewer. Judged on its own merits, "ABCs of Death 2" is a disappointing horror anthology, one that squanders its concept and the talent of all involved. There is no reason why the scariest part of a film of this sort should be its opening credits, and yet that is the sad but true case. On the other hand, Magnet Releasing's Blu-ray of "ABCs of Death 2" is nothing short of outstanding. The A/V specs are impressive, while the bonus content is positively sprawling, capped off with an enthralling filmmakers' commentary track. If you are a die-hard horror fan or anthology completist, this release comes recommended.

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© 2015 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman


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