If you are a fan of horror movies, make sure you see “The ABCs of Death,” a portmanteau film featuring the best young genre directors from around the world, featured at this year's Istanbul Film Festival.
Here is the gimmick: There are 26 directors, and each one was assigned a letter of the alphabet that was to inspire them to make a short horror film in which the assigned letter would represent the manner of death portrayed on the screen. Or as it says on the film festival website: “Twenty-six ways to die.”
All of the directors were given free reign with no limitations except one: Each film could only be a maximum of four minutes in length. Some say this is the most ambitious anthology film ever assembled, and they just may be right. And what makes this even more impressive for me is that it is not Anglo-centric or American-oriented, and the directors involved represent the crème de la crème of genre/horror filmmakers. Although the films are mostly live action, there is also animation and claymation.
The list of filmmakers includes Nacho Vigalondo, director of “Time Crimes,” the excellent recent Spanish science fiction film; Ti West, maker of “The Innkeepers” and “The House of the Devil”; Xavier Gens (“Frontiers”); Yoshihiro Nishimura (“Tokyo Gore Police” and “Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl”); Srdjan Spasojevic, director of the positively repulsive and offensive “A Serbian Film”; Noboru Iguchi (“Machine Girl” and “Dead Sushi”); Marcel Sarmiento, who directed and acted in the masterful “Deadgirl”; Jason Eisner (“Hobo with a Shotgun”); Bruno Forzani and Hélène Cattet, directors of the masterful giallo homage “Amer”; and Timo Tjahjanto of the Mo Brothers from Indonesia, who made the incredible “Macabre,” which was the best -- by far -- horror film that I saw last year and that includes perhaps the best mommie-monster since Alfred Hitchcock's “Psycho” in 1960 and so many, many more directors from all over.
With a project that is this ambitious, there are always going to be hits and misses, but with regard to “The ABCs of Death,” the hits vastly outweigh the misses, and at a maximum length of four minutes, you don't have to worry about any film outstaying its welcome. Thus, I highly recommend this anthology/compilation to horror and genre enthusiasts and those with an inquisitive bent. And listen carefully while the credits roll at the end. The producers have resurrected one of my favorite obscure songs, “Horror Movie,” which was a number one hit in 1975 in Australia by Skyhooks.
“The ABCs of Death” is playing at Beyoglu Cinema at midnight on April 4 and at Atlas at midnight on April 6. Enjoy!