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August 31, 2013

Movie Review: John Dies at the End (2012)

by John Beutler

There have been a good number of 'fan-fav' cult genre film directors, who regrettably have seemed to have lost a good measure of their 'mojo' over the years, and have turned out some pretty lackluster, albeit mildly entertaining productions in their later years, as compared to their peaked and reveled heyday (...regrettably, George A. Romero and Dario Argento, for instance...just to name a couple). On the opposite side of this eclectic coin, there have been similarly embraced cult film directors, who have genuinely stood the test of time, endured through the years, and like a fine wine, have actually gotten 'better' ( comparatively and delightfully more weirder, more bizarre and more twisted, then they have, in their initial onset). Producer/director Frank Henenlotter would definitely be one of the prime examples, in this case (...those who have merely seen his "Basket Case". "Brain Damage" or "Frankenhooker" have seen nothing, until having partaken of his latest, from a couple years over-the-top, nasty little ditty, called "Bad Biology"...Definitely look THAT one up!!). However, ol' Frank's varied and eclectic filmography will have to be a tale told at a later time. 

One other such genre film master, the director of the 'Phantasm' films, 'The Beastmaster' and 'Bubba-Ho-Tep'...Mr. Don Coscarelli, has also managed to change with the times, and has endeavored to always come up with something...uh, with something that's...well, let's just say that his latest, "John Dies at the End"...uh, words like 'outrageous', 'strange', 'bizarre', 'surreal' and 'twisted', hardly touch the surface, here. Try something more akin to...COMPLETELY AND UTTERLY BATSHIT CRAZY INSANE!! Based upon an internet-published novel (...which gives this reviewer, an aspiring writer in my own right, hope for getting something much more easily published), take the better, albeit crazed ideas and concepts from author H.P. Lovecraft...and from genre flicks like "Buckaroo Banzai", "Big Trouble in Little China", "Ghostbusters" & "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure"...liberally sprinkle a taste of David Cronenberg's "Naked Lunch" into the mix, push the 'frappe' button on the blender, and you have a wildly brain-scrambling, (...severed) tongue-in-cheek mind-@#$%, which defies description, makes no sense whatsoever, and yet, is so absolutely engrossing, compelling and irresistible

In a nutshell, without giving to much away, two slacker college drop-outs find themselves in inner cross-dimensional turmoil, when they happen across a drug-like substance, called 'soy sauce', which enables them to cross over into (...and bring 'things' from) multiple planes of existence, and cause them to experience mind-blowing prophecies of world domination...or rather, conspired domination of OUR world, by beings and creatures, who are dead determined to conquer and enslave the human race. Naturally, our two intrepid, albeit reluctant heroes, recklessly jump into the fray, in an effort to stop these diabolical forces. 

In engaging this film, once again, expect the unexpected, note that nothing is what it seems, and expect nothing to make a very funny, brain scrambling way. To quote a line from William Hurt's character, in 1984's "The Big Chill", "...don't be so analytical; sometimes you just have to let art flow over you". Wise words to keep in mind, when seeing "John Dies at the End"...which is definitely recommended, in my book...

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