John Dies at the End.
I suppose I should begin with Don Coscarelli. The man who brought me Phantasm and Bubba Ho-Tep has been a pretty consistent director for the weird and bizarre, often hitting the nail on the head when it comes to catching my interest. When he announced his intention to direct an adaptation of the novel “John Dies at the End” I knew only two things: 1. It was going to be a long time before I saw another Phantasm movie and 2. I had to hold off on reading the David Wong series that began with “John Dies at the End”. Since that time I’ve avoided all spoiler info on JDatE and I waited for the film to hit a local theater or DVD or whatever. Well, it nearly skipped the theater with a release direct to VOD but did manage to get a brief run at the local art house during a hell week for myself with a single showing at 9:30, which would have gotten me home well after midnight when all was said and done. I’m 37 years old and I have a family, so that wound up being all sorts of fouled up. And then I also refuse to order VOD when I’m likely to get the movie a few weeks later through Netflix… which is what I did.
Another friend of mine saw the movie before me… and he didn’t have that much to say about it. In fact, he seemed downright disappointed in the product and so my hopes were brought a little bit lower. But I still wanted to see the film for myself and it wasn’t too long before Netflix came through. As a side note, I no sooner got the DVD from my mail account than the movie became available ON DEMAND through Netflix two days later!!! Oh, I hate when that happens…
So did Mr. Coscarelli disappointment me? I rarely so passionately disagree with my friend, but this is one of those rare occasions where our views were totally different. “John Dies” utterly blew me away and was probably one of the trippyiest, most bizarre, twisted, and entirely entertaining bits of film I’m likely to see this year. The story is narrated by lead character David Wong and features a struggle against the supernatural, alternative dimensions, a drug called Soy Sauce, giant brain scorpions, a meat monster, ghosts, a famed television psychic, and a talking dog all leading up to bizarre climax. The problem is that telling anyone who reads this blog about this movie is a huge disservice to them, because this is definitely an experience kind of movie and something you need to see fresh in order to absorb the full strangeness of the piece.
Now, that's not to say the movie doesn't have a few faults... some of the CGI and green screen tech is a little low budget, but keep in mind that Coscarelli bucks the studio system and creates INDEPENDENT films for the weirdos. But while the effects tend to lag at points, the acting more than makes up for it... we have an amazing performance from Paul Giamatti and Clancy Brown has an interesting turn as the mysterious psychic television personality, Marconi.
4 out of 5.