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Film / The ABCs of Death

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A 2012 anthology horror/black comedy film consisting of 26 shorts, each named for a letter of the alphabet and dealing with the subject of death. The title of each segment is only shown after it has ended, providing a guessing game for the viewer as to what word the short's designated letter stands for.

A sequel was released September 18, 2014, with 26 brand new shorts. One of them (the letter M) was by amateur filmmakers, chosen in the 26th Director competition. A second sequel was released in 2016.

T is for Toilet, one of the shorts from the first film, received a sequel called Ghost Burger that was released in parts between 2013 and 2014.


This film provides examples of:

  • Adam Westing: Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett enjoy playing coke-sniffing, hypocritical versions of themselves in Q is for Quack.
  • All There in the Manual: The credits reveal the reason the "I" segment was named Ingrown: "2015 women murdered in the last 10 years in Mexico. 200 women a month. The horror is not on the screen."
  • Badass Baritone: The hooded figure in the "S" segment.
  • Bambification: Subverted in the "Y" segment, in which a decapitated deer's head is used to kill someone.
  • Black Comedy: Some (if not many) segments are filled with it.
  • Bloody Hilarious: The final segment is directed by Yoshihiro Nishimura, so this isn't much of a surprise.
  • Book-Ends: See below Color Motif example.
  • Bound and Gagged: The woman in "I", who is in this position in a man's bathtub before he injects her with something that causes her death.
  • Advertisement:
  • Color Motif: Each segment is bookended with a zoom in or out from something red.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The "U" segment. Angry mob vs cornered vampire. Bet on angry mob.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms:
    • The main character from "E" is at one point masturbating while he's being watched by the spider.
    • Masturbating to increasingly disturbing stuff was the main goal for the contestants in the "L" segment, with the last one to climax getting killed.
  • Deranged Animation: "T is for Toilet", with stop-motion animation done in an unsettlingly-amateurish look.
  • Drone of Dread: The closing credits cleverly uses dialogue, sound effects and bits of score from all of the shorts to create a dreadful ambient piece that lasts the duration of the credits. Sounds from each short pop up when the respective short's credits are on screen.
  • Dystopian Edict: "V" is set in a future where women must earn their fertility through service to the government.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending:
    • The "D" segment which features the hero getting his dog back and punishing the dog snatcher.
    • Brilliantly deconstructed in the "P" segment, where the woman gets the money she needs by crushing a cat under her heels for an animal crush video.
    • Subverted in "X is for XXL". After the obese woman cuts herself into an emaciated figure, she falls over dead
  • Eye Scream: The pedophile janitor in the "Y" segment gets antlers jammed into his eyes.
  • Frying Pan of Doom: In the first short, a hysterical woman attacks her bedridden husband with this. She had meant for him to die from poisoning long before then but has run out of time. The title is then revealed to be "A is for Apocalypse", implying that this is a Mercy Kill.
  • Genre Shift: The whole point of this anthology, showcasing the various kinds of horror from different parts of the world through different visual mediums.
  • Gorn: There is a lot of explicit and bloody violence in this movie.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: We (thankfully) do not see the main character from "P" crush a poor kitten's head. We do hear it though.
  • Gross-Up Close-Up:
    • If you don't want to see what a dead fetus looks like, skip the "M" segment.
    • During "X", the main character ravenously chows down on slop she takes out the fridge, with close shots of her mouth as she chews.
  • Human Resources: The killer in "R" goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against doctors who have been harvesting his skin to make 35 mm film.
  • Improbable Infant Survival:
    • Played straight in "B" and "Y", where the children present in the segments do not get killed.
    • Averted in "M" (which stands for Miscarriage), "P" (where the main character crushes a kitten's head beneath her heel), and "T" (where the young boy gets his head crushed while using the toilet).
    • Double subverted in "V", in which a baby is decapitated, but thanks to its psychic powers is still alive, and capable of avenging itself, as a disembodied head.
  • Mind Screw/Refuge in Audacity: The whole point of the "W" segment. "WTF", indeed.
  • Mood Whiplash: To give you a fair idea, "I" is a depressing segment about a woman being injected with a lethal poison and Dying Alone in a bathtub. "J" is about a samurai warrior who can't execute another warrior because he keeps making hilarious faces.
  • Murderer P.O.V.: "U is for Unearthed".
  • Nobody Poops: Averted in the "K", "R", and "T" segments. The "K" segment has a woman get killed while trying to get rid of her own bowel movement, the "R" segment features a bed pan being used, and the "T" segment is about a boy being toilet trained.
  • Not in Front of the Parrot: In "N", a man's pet bird helps him propose to his girlfriend in a very adorable way...Then the bird exposes its owner's true nature. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Overcrank: The whole of the "D" segment is shot at a slower pace, to wince-inducing effect.
  • Paedohunt: The disgustingly creepy janitor from "Y" has apparently molested a boy. Thankfully, he gets what's coming to him when the boy kills him.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: The robot from the "V" section has its eyes glow red whenever it detects the influence of mind control.
  • Red Herring / Red Herring Twist: Seeing as each short's name is revealed only at the end of the short, several segments feature a plot element that just so happens to start with the letter the short is named after. The short is never named after said element.
  • Repeat Cut: The arrow in the "Y" segment is seen being fired from three different angles.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Show Within a Show: The "Q" and "W" segments are about the real life crew members trying to figure out what to do for the "Q" and "W" segments for this very film.
  • Sliding Scale of Comedy and Horror: The movie alternates bleak, highly disturbing segments (such as a woman being left to die in I, men being impaled for not masturbating to some sick shit in L, and an obese woman skinning herself in X) with stories about farting and pooping, although the short dealing with a man-eating toilet manages to be rather scary and funny at the same time.
  • Spiders Are Scary: The whole point of the "E" segment is about a man being menaced by a spider.
  • Toilet Humour:
    • "F" and "T" stand for "fart" and "toilet".
    • Also the "K" segment, which is all about a woman using the toilet and trying to flush a pile of crap down said toilet.
  • The Un-Reveal: The killer's face in the "R" segment is never shown.
  • Urban Legend: "E" follows an old urban legend of spiders being able to lay eggs inside people's bodies.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Several shorts have people throw up on-camera, often in extreme close-up.
  • What Happened to the Duck?: The "Q" segment leaves the fate of the duck that was intended to be shot unknown.
  • Widget Series: The "F", "J" and "Z" segments were made in Japan and are definitely very bizarre.

Example of: