Tuesday, 4 September 2012

JOHN DIES AT THE END - TIFF 2012 - Review By Greg Klymkiw

John Dies at the End (2012) ****

dir. Don Coscarelli

Starring: Chase Williamson, Rob Mayes, Paul Giamatti, Glynn Turman, Clancy Brown

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Don Coscarelli is, without question, the real thing - a truly inspired Master of Horror. (He might also be certifiably insane, but what do I know? I'm no shrink.) As the director of cult classics like the Phantasm pictures (with Angus Scrimm as the diabolical wielder of blood suckin' and a spurtin' silver spheres) and the finest entry in that unbeatable genre of Elvis-duelling-with-dangerous-denizens-of-Ancient-Egypt Bubba-Ho-Tep, his latest offering is one mo-fo of an eye-popping mind-bender. John Dies at the End gives new meaning to the oft-heard phrase in only the finest grease-laden, alley-cat-for-chicken-serving Oriental restaurants in the Occident - "Can you please pass the Soya Sauce?"

If you buy me a MEAT MONSTER today,
I will gladly pay you back on Tuesday.
Oh, and what a delectable platter of Szechuan Steak Coscarelli's new movie is - like mouth watering morsels of fine flank (of cow, NOT dog), marinated in the saltiest Eastern Black Gold and wokked within an inch of its life in an indelible mixture of oil, garlic, ginger, scallions and, of course, the distinctive pepper from the dried rind of the prickly ash tree. The picture serves up gore, shocks and suspense accompanied by healthy dollops of black humour and psychedelic surrealism that ranks right up there with a Dim Sum rice roll chock full of Luis Buñuel, Alejandro Jodorowsky and James Whale.

Damn! Before I get too hungry, allow me to dive directly in to what you're going to see in this contemporary genre classic. In a nutshell, two best buds, David (Chase Williamson) and John (Rob Mayes), are mega-slackers - not unlike Bill and Ted, only they're not stupid and they go on an adventure that is in no way, shape or form an EXCELLENT ADVENTURE (though we, the viewers, are afforded a most excellent adventure, indeed).

And how, pray tell do they find themselves on this harrowing journey up the river into a veritable heart of darkness? Simple. They've gone and ingested a completely mind-pummelling hallucinogen called - you guessed it (or not) - SOYA SAUCE.

Now, if you will, put on your mathematician's hat and add together every bad acid trip you've ever taken, multiplied by every single bad acid trip anyone's ever taken and our heroes are plunged with Hoover Dam ferocity into a world of scary shit where reality morphs with fantasy until the world of the trip becomes horrifyingly real to the extent where everything they think is real springs to life as a nightmare that never ends and keeps turning in on itself repeatedly and with more convolutions than the too-sickeningly-horrendous results of, say, Terence Malick on crack cocaine.

The hallucinogen itself is, you see, not some mere chemical. Soya Sauce is a living thing - a slithering, slurping glob of putrid viscous discharge that rips your sense of reality into a finely blended wad of chopped liver and KFC creamy coleslaw.

This stuff fucks you up big time. It scares the living faecal matter out of you, but worse, it - and most of all - what IT creates is alive. It's so alive, you can die at any time and frankly, you might actually be dead already - careening wildly from one horrendous scenario to another in a purgatory of horror with no end.

Add to this witch's brew the likes of Paul Giamatti as a sleazy reporter trying to get both the truth AND the Sauce, the brilliant Clancy Brown as an Amazing Kreskin-like Mentalist crossed with Tony Robbins and, like Hugh Hefner, always flanked (as it were) by a bevy of bodacious babes and last, but not least, one of the great living contemporary character actors Glynn Turman as a cop who meets way more than he bargained for when he's forced into dealing with a scourge that exceeds every slime-bucket he's ever had to deal with in leaps and bounds.

Coscarelli handles these proceedings with imagination, skill and one hell of a great sense of humour - NEVER tongue in cheek, but always rooted in the absurdist elements of the drama itself. Revealing anymore, however, will do you absolutely no favours. And as for the title, there's a damn compelling reason for you to keep watching. If John dies at the end, how, OH HOW will he finally bite the bullet within the context of this complete whack-job of an utterly inspired fright-fest.

"John Dies at the End" is premiering in Midnight Madness at TIFF 2012. For Further info visit the TIFF website HERE.