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|Index||108 reviews in total|
When I heard that the director of Bubba Ho-Tep had made a new movie, I had to see it. It was a midnight movie at the Sundance Film Festival, and it did not disappoint. Buckle your seat belt if you get the chance to see this one, because there are lots of twists, turns, and unexpected surprises. If you have a hard time with a story that goes to unexpected places and keeps you on your toes, you may not enjoy "John Dies," but if you appreciate absolutely unfettered creativity and a willingness to include everything but the kitchen sink, then you should run to see this movie. Here you've got mind-bending drugs, time travel, exploding monsters, an alternate universe, and laughs lots of BIG, all-out laughs and Paul Giammatti! Far too wacky and weird to ever be mainstream, it's the kind of movie that true film fanatics will always cherish.
this movie proves that there are still FILM MAKERS in genre pictures. In a world full of kissing vampires and "found Footage" crap, "John" bring to the screen what seems to have been lost since great films like Altered States, and Videodrome. it is unapologetic in its movement, and daring with its story. Quite frankly, i felt this movie was giving me a high five the entire time watching it, saying "hell yeah we're going to go to the loony bin together"! i don't think I've seen a film this daring in a long time! and a huge tip of the hat to Paul Giamatti for having such a faith in genre film, i love knowing that the people on the screen weren't just collecting a pay check, but truly wanted to be there. All in all, if you don't have the good sense to let a film take you in exciting new directions than "john" is not for you. If you want to see one of those sparkling little shooting star moments where Hollywood accidentally lets loose an innovative and God forbid ORIGINAL film, than you simply NEED to go see "John Dies", you'll be a better film fan for it!
...and it was. I also expected it to be funny, and it was that too. I
had not read the book previously and knew nearly nothing about the
story, but if you've seen the trailer, that is pretty much adequate
preparation for the strangeness you subject yourself to as you watch
Several scenes are just outright setups for jokes, and if this film was just set em up, knock em down - it would not be worth an 8. What makes this movie better than that is that it is, at it's core - psychotic in the best way possible. You never know if what you are seeing is real or not, and just when you think you couldn't see or handle anything weirder, something hilarious happens to shift gears.
I haven't read the book, but I've seen the film. It premiered in the UK
a couple of weeks ago as part of the London Film Festival. As a fan of
Coscarelli's previous works, I wasn't going to miss a late night
screening of this one. I saw about a dozen new films at the festival,
but only one came close to being as wonderfully insane as John Dies at
the End. I'm not going to throw spoilers, but if you can, try to see
this in a cinema with a big sound system. There's as many audio gags as
sight gags going on all the way through, and micro hommages to a few
dozen cult classics. A very knowing work of art.
As with Bubba Ho-Tep, this film takes a mindbendingly outlandish premise, which through the course of events, and some wonderfully obtuse lateral thinking, persuades the audience that it's perfectly likely to be true. The boisterous audience at the showing I attended was fired up for the absurdism by Don Coscarelli's brief (unannounced) intro from the stage, but there's so many gags in this film that he could easily have taken a back seat and shamelessly guffawed along with the paying punters. If you like old school comedy horror, with a decidedly surreal tinge, go see this film. It's refreshing, but sadly all too rare, to run across a film that doesn't take itself at all seriously, but takes the process of film-making very seriously indeed. Script, cast, design, direction, and production values are integrated seamlessly into a sublime delirium that is much more than the sum of its parts. I can't recommend it highly enough in these gloomy times.
In case you're wondering, Don Coscarelli in person is one very amusing guy, and mercifully lacking in Hollywooden airs and graces.
This film reminded me a lot of Naked Lunch crossed with Bill And Ted's Excellent Adventure in some ways (if you've seen all three of these movies you'll know what I mean). You have a guy (Dave) and his friend (John) who end up stumbling across a drug that opens their minds (both figuratively and literally) to another world. There is some good humor here and some of the scenes make you laugh (the meat man being one). The story is obviously over the top, but that is what makes this film fun to watch. You have to go in to this movie with an open mind (being under the influence might help to) and don't take it too seriously, that being said I can see some people doing just that and they won't get it. It has elements of horror, good old fashioned special effects - some new also, some comedy, and the obligatory nude scene. As I said, some people won't like this movie, but I enjoyed it. Fun to watch, so for that and the reasons I gave earlier, I give this a 7 out of 10.
This film is amazing. This movie may only be getting negative reviews
from people that didn't read the novel. It's a cult film, I don't
expect it to rate well with people outside its genre. The book was
EXPLETIVE amazing. I cast Paul Giamatti as Arnie for the visuals in my
head as I was reading the novel, long before I heard talk about a
movie. Even the guy playing Justin White looked the part. And, of
course, Jimmy Wong for Fred Chu was dead on.
There are several differences from the book but that is expected. Writing for screen is different than writing for readers. I think it will be very entertaining for those that enjoyed Jason Pargin's (David Wong) novel.
Having read the novel, I had some prior expectations about the movie. I
tried to judge the movie solely on itself, but it's hard to shake what
Have you ever seen something out of the corner of your eye late at night, but when you turn to look, nothing's there? What if something really was there, and you gained the ability to see those beings? That's what John Dies at the End is about - being able to see those creepy things in the night!
John Dies at the End is told mostly as a story as the main character, Dave, recounts his adventures to a journalist. Those scenes were fantastic. While the setting of the odd Chinese restaurant was a part of this, the character of Arnie was more responsible. Paul Giamatti plays Arnie Blondestone, and he's absolutely perfect for the role. He seems so unimposing and a bit bland while at the same time just a tad odd, which is perfect for the character.
On the subject of casting and acting, all the characters were cast well. Chase Williamson is great as Dave, Rob Mayes plays a good, aloof John (although he looks tougher than I expected), and Clancy Brown is great as Dr. Albert Marconi.
Many things have changed from the book, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. The story has been greatly condensed with some subplots ignored, some characters removed (or merged), and, unfortunately, some important details missing. While the initial setup and development is great in the first half of the movie even with the condensation, the latter half of the film suffers. There doesn't seem to be enough justification for the characters' actions. Things happen very suddenly at the end, and while some of the changes from the book are fun, it still feels incomplete.
Despite a rushed plot, John Dies at the End was still a terrific movie for people who like slightly cheesy sci-fi or horror films. While I complained about the rushed plot, it's probably not as noticeable to someone who hadn't read the book. John Dies at the End is probably best enjoyed late at night when you're liable to see things in the shadows!
I'm not even sure where to start with a movie like JOHN DIES AT THE
END. It's one of those movies that just seems destined from the start
to be a cult classic, but I'm not so sure. I love a good WTF movie that
I can share with friends over a few beers, but a good WTF movie does
more than baffle the audience with the bizarre. A good WTF film will
have an awesome story (e.g. cyberpunk Nazis on the moon = IRON SKY) and
an engaging hero/protagonist (e.g. Rutger Hauer in HOBO WITH A
SHOTGUN). Keep in mind, my examples are just movies that I personally
enjoy in the WTF genre but the same principles still stand. I can't
really agree that JOHN DIES AT THE END has either (much less both) of
these qualities. I am a huge fan of Cracked.com and I've been following
the site since I first stumbled across it while searching for a
time-waster while I worked tech support. Their content is most often
hilarious and generally a bit informative too. I'm totally down with
supporting their writers in whatever endeavors they pursue if it means
more of their excellent product. JOHN DIES AT THE END (written by
senior Cracked editor David Wong) is on my shortlist of novels I'm
planning on buying from Amazon, but I was excited to find out that a
movie would be released in the meantime and that it would be directed
by Don Coscarelli. BUBBA HO-TEP is another great WTF film, so naturally
I was expecting great things with the movie. The ultimate reality: it
falls short of being the movie I wanted, but it has inspired me to move
a little faster on picking up the novel.
To start, and you'll probably hear this from anyone who's seen the movie but not read the novel, JOHN DIES AT THE END doesn't make a whole lot of sense. It feels like there's a plot in there somewhere. I just can't find it. I've uncovered bits of it and pieced it all together but there are still a lot of holes. I've pretty much given up on figuring out the plot in its entirety until I read the book. For now, I only know what I've seen in the movie. David Wong (Chase Williamson) and John (Rob Mayes) are a couple of stoned losers who encounter a new drug known on the street as 'soy sauce.' Soy sauce has the ability to give its user supernatural abilities that I don't quite understand. Communicating with the dead and the future and other dimensions, I think. And inexplicable knowledge. Anyway, David and John discover an evil plot involving body-snatching white bugs/fuzz and plans of an entity of pure evil from an alternate universe to dominate our world. See what I mean? I'm not even sure. And everything I've read tells me it's explained 100 times better in the novel, so I haven't given up hope. But, as a movie, it's lacking. Honestly, my interest waned around the time David was kidnapped by an annoying ghetto white kid (Jonny Weston) and the detective investigating the weird goings-on (Glynn Turman) went totally mental.
And that's the big problem here: weirdness without any sort of context becomes dull real fast. For the first 45 minutes of the movie or so, I was loving it. The meat monster, the ominous Jamaican, the messed-up/dark sense of humor to the whole thing it was great. But once the "story" kicked into gear, I lost it. The best way to describe JOHN DIES AT THE END is this: it feels like a 100-minute trailer for a really awesome six-hour movie. There's a lot of interesting stuff going on here and the whole movie feels like it's on the verge of greatness but it never pays off. There's a lot of cool stuff that's introduced or mentioned and never fully explored. What was the deal with Roger North (Doug Jones)? And what about the alien slug with teeth that appeared three times in the movie? Was it a tool of good or evil? How exactly did Korrok's plan (Korrok being the ultimate evil entity from an alternate universe) involve the body-snatching bugs? If Dr. Marconi (Clancy Brown) was so awesome, why wasn't the movie about HIM saving the world? Seriously. Marconi was probably the coolest character in the whole movie and he's the most wasted. Brown gets higher billing than Paul Giamatti in the movie but he's only in it for about 5 minutes. What's the point of his character? He's stone-cold awesome in the few instances we see him in action, but we send David and John to help save the world? Where did the soy sauce come from? Is it a creation of Korrok? Did it have anything to do with the white bug swarms or not, because I'm getting mixed signals.
More questions than answers with the plot, but at least some of the humor works well. Chase Williamson is pretty decent as David Wong and Rob Hayes did a great job, but I think a lot of fans of Cracked might agree that this movie would've been exponentially funnier if Daniel O'Brien and Michael Swaim had been cast in the lead roles. People who aren't followers of Cracked won't know who those two are, but it couldn't have hurt the movie's success seeing as how the release was so low-key to begin with. JOHN DIES AT THE END is a mildly entertaining distraction that will frustrate anyone in the market for a solid story but there are some good laughs to be had. If anything, I can say it's got me that much more interested in reading the book.
John Dies At The End is an adaptation of David Wong's book of the same name written and directed by Don Coscarelli (Phantasm, Bubba Ho-Tep). While not familiar with the book, the bizarre and surreal story does seem like a perfect fit for Coscarelli as his films have alway had a touch of both the surreal and a bit of offbeat whimsy. The film starts out with David Wong (Chase Williamson) telling his bizarre tale to a reporter, Arnie Blondestone (Paul Giamatti). Wong starts to spin a tale involving himself and his friend, John (Rob Mayes) and their encounters with a powerful drug with a mind of it's own called "soy sauce". This bizarre narcotic not only gives the user (if they survive it) heightened psychic awareness but, opens doorways to alternate dimensions. But, once doors are opened they are opened both ways and can John and David stop the beings from the other side from entering our world and making it their own. John Dies is a very strange yet amusing head trip of a movie that won't appeal to everyone but, under Coscarelli's guidance, will entertain those who like a movie that isn't afraid to be weird and unconventional. Coscarelli moves things along briskly and we find out what's going on along with David and John as the story unfolds in flashback. The story focuses mostly on David as he's is trying to find out how his friend John's sudden bizarre behavior one night ties in with meeting a very strange Jamaican (Tai Bennett). As he tries to figure out the surreal occurrences now happening around him, he is drawn into a tale that is the stuff of hallucinogenic nightmares and it becomes a quest for he and John to save the world. Coscarelli wisely uses live effects for most of his surreal sequences and otherworldly creatures and what little digital effects there are, are used sparingly and are decent enough. The live action animatronic creatures and gore are very well done by Make-up FX master Robert Kurtzman and his team. Coscarelli is one of those filmmakers that is very adept at making good use of a small budget and probably would be lost on a Hollywood blockbuster and it is one of the things I like about him as a filmmaker. And here he achieves a lot of visual impact on his small budget. The director has also cast the film well,too. No great performances but, everyone is efficient and effective in their roles and approach the material with appropriate seriousness but, not without a few winks at the audience. Clancy Brown in particular seems to be having fun as a TV mystic but, keeps his performance grounded enough to not spill into camp. And there is a delightful cameo from Phantasm's Tall Man, Angus Scrimm as well, to please fans of that series. All in all, this isn't everyone's cup of tea but, if you like stuff offbeat and a bit out there, and I do, then this is a fun low budget fantasy that is refreshingly and unapologetically weird in a good way.
'John Dies at the End' is like the Matrix. One cannot be told what it
is. They must see it for themselves. Veering wildly between inspired
and tedious, it ultimately comes off like a (very) strange mish-mash of
better and more coherent films like 'Ghostbusters', 'Dude, where's my
car?', 'Bill & Ted's Excellent Adenture', 'Big Trouble in Little China'
and the TV show 'Supernatural'.
Director Don Coscarelli ('Phantasm', 'The Beastmaster', 'Bubba Ho-Tep') is the king of quirky cult cinema, and he's certainly in his element here. But the increasingly odd plot mechanics at play in 'John' are beyond even his skill to corral into something approaching entertainment.
'John Dies at the End' is not a good film, but it's so *odd* that I feel I have to recommend it for the experience alone.
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