Review: 'John Dies at the End'

By: Heather Seebach

Writer/director Don Coscarelli first burst onto the horror scene with the 1979 classic, Phantasm, but 2002's Bubba Ho-Tep is where Don really showed how hilariously bonkers he could be. That side of the filmmaker returns again with John Dies at the End. Based on David Wong's book of the same name, this horror-comedy is about two slackers who uncover a drug called "soy sauce" that allows them to speak to the dead, connect with other worlds, and other neat tricks. They soon discover an alien invasion is underway and it's up to them to save the universe.

This movie is completely insane and fun to boot. It has crazy monster FX and camp humor rarely seen since the golden 80s. Numerous scenes fondly reminded me of Evil Dead 2. It often feels like the lovechild of Sam Raimi and David Cronenberg, with a dash of Terry Gilliam. 

Coscarelli's script, based on Wong's novel, is completely unpredictable and wacky fun. The lead character is David Wong, thus creating this meta, reality-bending story, like a horror version of Adaptation.  It is full of riddles, and toys with time and perception - a second viewing is encouraged but not necessary. The downside of the screenplay is the film's rushed, CG-heavy pay-off, which does not live up to its great build-up. 

Chase Williamson and Rob Mayes are likable leads, but the show is stolen by genre favorites Paul Giamatti, Clancy Brown (as a Peter Vincent-like infomercial host), Doug Jones, and even a great cameo by the Tall Man himself, Angus Scrimm.

I watched John Dies at the End shortly after seeing Cronenberg's Cosmopolis, and noticed a weird connection between the two 2012 films. Both star Paul Giamatti opposite Robert Pattinson - well, in the case of John, a guy who looks exactly like Pattinson if he were attractive. They both thrive in the bizarre, but I prefer my sci-fi with more monsters and less Wall Street.

John Dies at the End is on DVD and Blu-ray from Magnolia Home Entertainment starting on April 2, 2013. If you're a fan of horror-comedy, especially the type with eccentric humor and gore, you will not want to miss this one. 

You can get the DVD on Amazon right here:

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