John Dies at the End.

From the first teaser trailer of this one (which I may have seen two years ago) I knew it was love. One of the major failures of modern culture is that few out there know who Don Coscarelli is, much less his contributions to cult cinema.

Coscarelli is the guy who gave us probably one of the greatest indie horror film franchises ever: Phantasm. As strange as it was exciting, the Phantasm series was anything but tedious: A young boy grows into a man, tortured over the course of his life by a seemingly immortal being from another dimension which recycles the dead into slaves and seeks dominion in our world. Yeah, I know — too much awesome, right? That’s not counting the flying silver spheres, yellow blood and Reggie Bannister with a four-barrel shotgun. Astounding, I know.

Well now Coscarelli has combined forces with David Wong (or rather, Jason Pargin) to bring his absurdist novel John Dies at the End to cinematic life. Needless to say, but Pargin knew who the go-to-guy was.

John Dies at the End is the story of the fictional David Wong (as portrayed by the wonderfully snarky Chase Williamson) and his best bud, John (yes, that John) Cheese (Rob Mayes), and their encounter with “soy sauce”, a sentient substance which, masquerading as a drug, enables the “user” with the ability to percieve things beyond the usual limits of space and time. Multi-dimensional hilarity ensues.

I admit, I haven’t read the book (soon to be remedied, I assure you), but the movie rings of Coscarelli’s classic films. It hits the ground running, and doesn’t let up until the very end. The leads are spot-on, and with the help of a supporting cast that includes Doug Jones and the awesome Clancy Brown (who I know as Rawhide from Buckaroo Banzai and my nephews know as the voice of Mr. Krabs from Spongebob Squarepants), things so swimmingly well.
This is the strength of a film like JDatE. Like the Phantasm films, this is a ride, a fast-moving car that flies along without little or no explanation of what exactly has transpired. This is where I’m sure a number of folks will balk at the particulars, but I for one simply enjoy myself with films like these. This sort of film takes a certain kind of daring, and a really good sense of humor. Luckily for us, Coscarelli has both.
It’s one of those awful “cult films”, folks. Don’t bother unless the unusual appeals to you.
9/10

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