Blu-ray Review: John Dies At The End (2012, Dir. Don Coscarelli)

John Dies At The End

Common sense states I should be under duress right now, but I’m not. I’m feeling too “zen-like.” Common sense also states that what you’re reading should be a review about a movie Don Coscarelli directed titled John Dies At The End, based on the book of the same name, penned by some dude with the pseudonym of David Wong, but you better throw that notion out the window right fuckin’ now.

I’ve been feeling under the weather, and had the events of last night not happened, I might have just chalked this feeling up to the onset of a simple cold, but it’s not. They’re side effects, plain and simple. Not from any kind of drug or alcohol use, but from watching this goddamn “movie.”

Watching it went smoothly, or so it seemed. I remember thinking, “how the hell am I going to write a review of this thing?!” It wasn’t until the end credits when I began to feel a little woozy, a little dizzy, a little sweaty, and a little “zen-like.” Maybe, I was coming down with something. Well, nothing a nice hot shower couldn’t fix. It was about that time anyway. I went into the bathroom. Again, nothing out of the ordinary happened. I brushed my teeth, stretched a little bit, and turned the shower on.

Here is where things began to go wrong.

Movie trailers came out of the showerhead. That’s right, you read that right. I’ll repeat it for those who are still scratching their foreheads: movie trailers, not water, poured out of the showerhead. All from Magnolia, too. The Sorcerer And The White Snake (2012), Sushi Girl (2012), Storage 24 (2012), The ABCs Of Death (2012) and some weird advertisement for something called AXSTV. In that order, over and over, and over, and over, etc.

Don’t ask me why, but I stripped and stood under the showerhead. Storage 24 burned a little. Not surprised, since I reviewed that movie, and basically thought it sucked. The Sorcerer And The White Snake felt the most soothing, like a plethora of tiny Jet Li’s were gently side-kicking my skin all over.

The peripheral of my vision started to take on changes, top and bottom, too, with the sudden framing of an HD TV surrounding my eyesight. But, now, things really started to get weird. I heard sounds coming from my shampoo, like people were talking inside it.

I’ve come this far, why stop now. I poured a handful and lathered up my skull. I was right, there were people conversing in it. And now I could hear them in DTS-HD 5.1. It was Don Coscarelli, Producer Bad Baruh, and actors Chase Williamson and Rob Mayes talking about John Dies At The End.

As they spoke about filming in Bronson Caverns, and this movie being Chase’s first, and the FX, and everything else that has to do with the movie and the book, I washed and listened.  The water burned my skin more than it had before, specifically the top of my left foot. As if things couldn’t get weird enough, a pink spider, about the size of a half dollar, and looking like a Valentine’s Day candy, burst out of my burning foot.

Strangely, the commentary participants all guffawed. About this time the zen-like state I had been basking in started to wane. Makes sense. I don’t know anyone who could take an event like this in casual stride. I reached down to inspect the incision/hole just as more candy colored spiders scuttled out.

Were they live or 1080p?

I’m pretty sure the spiders were in 1080p, and scuttling around the bathtub in my 1.78:1 peripheral frame.

I ripped back the curtain and stumbled out of the shower, with more and more spiders crawling out of my foot wound. Some of the new ones had letters burned into their bodies; they even briefly lined up to spell out Robert Kurtzman, the FX artist who worked on the practical FX in the movie. As this was happening, other spiders metamorphosed into props from the flick: a severed head, a flaccid dick, various, bloody body parts, and a seething, hissing brain scorpion that made its way to the ceiling where it buzzed, and hissed, and spat at me.

I didn’t really, really start to freak out until all the spiders focused on me and began scaling my body, covering me from head to toe. I chewed on a few when they got close to my mouth, and they did indeed crunch and taste like Valentine’s Day candy. They obscured everything but my vision and when I glanced in the mirror I saw they had transformed me into the meat monster from the film.

I screamed like a girl, they all fell off. This whole ordeal with the spiders lasted exactly 8 minutes and 35 seconds.

Naked and in still in full freak, I burst from the bathroom, not really knowing what I was going to do next, or even where I was going to go. Can’t call anyone, can’t go to the ER; who the fuck would believe me?

The voices coming from my bedroom dictated my next course of action. There were two males and one female. Totally forgetting the birthday suit I was in, I walked in and saw Chase Williamson, Rob Mayes and the chick from the movie, Fabianne Therese. They were going through their casting sessions.

Fabianne, without breaking character, as she read her lines, grabbed a pillow off my bed and tossed it to me. I used it to cover my dangling nether regions.

I have a clock on the wall; it was running backwards. I peered out the window in my bedroom, Day and Night raced by outside, but time was moving backwards.

7 minutes and 14 seconds later, all three actors vanished. Hands shaking and sweaty, I went to my bureau for a pair of underwear, then returned to the window. Parting the curtains, I could see day and night now shooting forward. For the two people seated on the driveway outside my window, time was not an issue; they seemed to moving “normally”. Ex Fangoria editor, Tony Timpone and actor, Paul Giamatti were engaged in an interview.

I wrapped loudly on the glass just to see what might happen. I’ll be god damned if Paul and Tony didn’t look my way. They both waved and returned to their conversation. I watched for 9 minutes and 51 seconds.

How am I keeping track of time when time isn’t keeping track of itself, you may ask? Good  question. Answer: I have no clue. My “internal clock” was working independently of the clock  racing backwards and forwards, and I just knew.

Checking another window, I saw the landscape outside was an amalgamated mesh of behind the scenes footage and actual scenes from the film playing, overlapping upon one another. To the average mind, heads or tails of what was going on would be indiscernible. Being in the enviable position of having my once naïve, human brain augmented, I could clearly see a linear 6 minute and 46 second statement on what it took to make this “movie”.

I cracked the window open to see what this “making of” felt like, and a bunch of annoying, little, deleted scenes buzzed into the room. Seven of them, flitting about around my head on insectile wing. 9 minutes and 39 seconds later, I was able to wave them all back out of window.

There was a gap in time between when I wrote the above accounts and this new next paragraph. I had to stop writing when the phone rang, and it rang unlike any normal phone would, which prompted me to investigate. The man on the other hand claimed he was me! There were sounds of utter chaos happening in the background. I could easily make out a flamethrower in action, gunshots, and the voice of my friend, YWC editor Madeleine Koestner. She was hollering, so was the man who claimed to be me. “Don’t let Don make the sequel! It will kill us all!” That’s all I could make out, but sounds began to come through the earpiece that I could never hope to identify, and I was freaked out to the point where I hung up abruptly.

The side effects seem to be wearing off now. So, why isn’t that “wound” on my foot where the spiders came out going away? I want to go out and grab the first person I see and ask them if they see it, too, but I’m afraid to do that, because what if they do see it?

What does that mean?

That all of this really happened?

No, it didn’t… it’s just some freaky event. I ate some bad meat… I tripped out. But that phone call… now I know what Sam Neil feels like in John Carpenter’s In The Mouth Of Madness . . . wait, does that mean I’m not real?

I’ll admit this whole “whatever” has left me almost terminally confused as to what I should do next. And why am I getting this urge to watch John Dies At The End again? Damn, that “soy sauce” certainly is addictive.


(Editor’s Note: For a more traditional review of this film, read this earlier article I wrote!)

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