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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 (consisting only of rejected "M" entries) 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.

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General

  • Black Comedy: Some (if not many) segments are filled with it.
  • Book-Ends: See below Color Motif example.
  • Color Motif: Each segment is bookended with a zoom in or out from something red.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Gratuitous Japanese: "J is for Jidai-geki (Samurai Movie)" and "Z is for Zetsumetsu (Extinction)" are named in Japanese, both because both shorts are directed by Japanese directors, and because there are very few words in English that start with these letters.
  • Improbable Infant Survival:
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    • Played straight in "B is for Bigfoot" and "Y is for Youngbuck", where the children present in the segments do not get killed.
    • Averted in "M is for Miscarriage", "P is for Pressure" (where the main character crushes a kitten's head beneath her heel), and "T is for Toilet" (where the young boy gets his head crushed while using the toilet).
    • Double subverted in "V is for Vagitus (The Cry of a Newborn Baby", in which a baby is decapitated, but thanks to its psychic powers is still alive, and capable of avenging itself, as a disembodied head.
  • Mood Whiplash: To give you a fair idea, "I is for Ingrown" is a depressing segment about a woman being injected with a lethal poison and Dying Alone in a bathtub. "Jidai-geki" is about a samurai warrior who can't execute another warrior because he keeps making hilarious faces.
  • Nobody Poops: Averted in the "K is for Klutz", "R is for Removed", and "Toilet" 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.
  • 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. One example would be Zetsumetsu (Extinction), which never features an extinction.
  • Show Within a Show: The "Q is for Quack" and "W is for WTF" 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 Ingrown, men being impaled for not masturbating to some sick shit in L is for Libido, and an obese woman skinning herself in X is for XXL) 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.
  • Toilet Humour:
    • "F" and "T" stand for "fart" and "toilet".
    • Also "K is for Klutz," which is all about a woman using the toilet and trying to flush a pile of crap down said toilet.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Several shorts have people throw up on-camera, often in extreme close-up.
  • Widget Series: The "Fart," "Jidai-geki," and "Zetsumetsu" segments were made in Japan and are definitely very bizarre. ESPECIALLY Zetsumetsu.
  • The X of Y: The ABCs of Death

A is for Apocalypse

  • Frying Pan of Doom: In Apocalypse, 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.
  • Made of Iron: The husband survives being poisoned, stabbed repeatedly with a kitchen knife (including the knife being shoved through his neck and left there), having scalding grease thrown in his face, and being battered repeatedly with a Frying Pan of Doom.

B is for Bigfoot

  • Accidental Truth: Dulce and Erik fabricate a story about the Abominable Snowman coming out every night to take away kids, but only those who stay up at night, to scare Xochitl into staying in bed. They are then killed by homeless man in almost exactly the manner they described to Xochitl. Xochitl is spared because she hiding under the cover counting sheep, just as they told her to do.
  • Generic Doomsday Villain: The homeless man shows up and kills a couple for no apparent reason, leaving a little girl they're babysitting alive for the same.

C is for Cycle

  • Here We Go Again!: Cycle ends with Bruno in exactly the same place he was at the start, with the implication that he is now trapped in a unending loop (hence the title).

D is for Dogfight

  • Beastly Bloodsports: A gang abducts dogs and then uses then in death matches against humans.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Dogfight features the hero getting his dog back and punishing the dog snatcher.
  • Hate Sink: The unnamed trainer runs an organization where he kidnaps dogs. When their humans come looking for them, he has them kidnapped too. He subjects both human and dog to Training from Hell before forcing them to fight to the death.
  • Man Bites Man: After the dog latches on to his arm, the protagonist retaliates by sinking his teeth into the dog's throat.
  • Overcrank: The whole of "Dogfight" is shot at a slower pace, to wince-inducing effect.

E is for Exterminate

  • A Date with Rosie Palms: The main character from "Exterminate" is at one point masturbating while he's being watched by the spider.
  • Ear Ache: A horde of spiders erupt from the man's ear when the egg's hatch.
  • Spiders Are Scary: The whole point of "Exterminate" is about a man being menaced by a spider.
  • Urban Legend: "Exterminate" follows an old urban legend of spiders being able to lay eggs inside people's bodies.

F is for Fart:

  • Deadly Gas: An earthquake unleashes a deadly gas that kills everyone in the school.
  • Fartillery: Miss Yumi's farts are toxic enough to allow someone to commit suicide by inhaling them.
  • Gasshole: Yoshie's farts are powerful enough to cause her skirt to flip up. Miss Yumi can fill an entire room with the gas from her farts.
  • Panty Shot: When Yoshie farts, her skirt flips up showing off her panties.
  • Teacher/Student Romance: Yoshie has very poorly disguised crush on with Yumi. When they are faced with the cloud of Deadly Gas, Miss Yumi reveals that her feeling are reciprocated, and the segment ends with the two of them making out in the Land of the Dead.

G is for Gravity

  • Suicide by Sea: Gravity follows an unseen protagonist he weighs himself down with bricks, paddles out into the ocean, and sinks to the bottom; his surfboard sticking upright out of the water like a gravestone.

H is for Hydro-Electric Diffusion

  • Adventurer Outfit: Bertie wears the classic 'airman' version': bomber jacket, scarf, gloves, boots, flying helmet and goggles. He is also an anthropomorphic bulldog.
  • The Baroness: Frau Scheisse is Nazi Foxy Vixen who spends most of the segment in boot, shorts, a swastika armband, and nothing else.
  • Bilingual Bonus: “Frau Scheisse” roughly translates to Mrs. Shit.
  • Death Trap: Frau Scheisse has prepared a particularly elaborate one for her nemesis Bertie. had she gone with something simpler, she might have succeeded.
  • Diesel Punk: Set in a universe where World War II was fought by anthropomorphic animals, the setting has very diesel punk feel: especially Frau Scheisse's elaborate industrial Death Trap.
  • Electric Torture: Frau Scheisse takes the opportunity to electrocute Bertie several times while she is attempting to force him into her Death Trap.
  • Eye Pop: Bertie's eyes do this when he sees Frau Scheisse performing her striptease. They later do it in pain after her Groin Attack.
  • Foxy Vixen: Frau Scheisse is a sexy Nazi fox woman posing as burlesque dancer.
  • Groin Attack: Frau Scheisse uses a small robot to put Bertie in the groin so hard that his eyes pop out on stalks.
  • Hate Sink: As a parody of WWII British propaganda films, this short has a loathsome Nazi in the form of Frau Scheisse. After seducing Ace Pilot Bertie the Bulldog, Scheisse has a small robot punch him in the groin to capture him. She then proceeds to subject Bertie to Electric Torture while slowly lowering him into electrified water to shock him to death.
  • Hoist by Her Own Petard: Frau Scheisse falls victim to her own Death Trap.
  • Shovel Strike: When Bertie starts getting the upper hand, Frau Scheisse pulls a shovel off the side of the control unit and attempts to clobber him.
  • Uncanny Valley: The costumes are close to “Cats” in uncanniness.
  • World of Funny Animals
  • You Can Leave Your Hat On: Frau Scheisse poses as burlesque dancer and performs a striptease to lure Bertie into her trap.

I is for Ingrown

J is for Jidai-geki (Samurai Movie)

  • Bait-and-Switch: Of a sort. Those trying to guess what the short is called but aren't very knowledgeable about Japanese movies (and even some that are) might be tempted to guess that the title of this segment is "Japan."
  • Seppuku: An executioner prepares to decapitate a samurai; however, the samurai begins performing a series of bizarre and physically impossible facial expressions, causing the executioner to panic. A man off-screen tells the executioner to finish the job, as he notices that the samurai is performing seppuku. The executioner, who turns out to be a kaishakunin, beheads the samurai, but then laughs at the ridiculous expression that the latter made.

K is for Klutz

  • The Can Kicked Him: The protagonist is killed in the toilet when her own stool rams her way up her rectum and out of her mouth at high speed.
  • Generic Doomsday Villain: There is no explanation for how the turd comes to life, nor does it speak to show any personality. It just shows up, refuses to go down the toilet, and rams its way through the woman that made it, killing her.
  • Talking Poo: An animated stool gets into a battle of wits with the woman who produced it, and who is now trying to flush it. The stool winds up killing her.

L is for Libido

  • Chained to a Bed: After failing in his final task, the protagonist wakes up to find himself chained to a bed with a beautiful woman making love to him. For a few moments, things to going much better for him. And then they get much, much worse.
  • Chainsaw Good: After finally failing to be the first to climax, the protagonist wakes up to find Chained to a Bed, having sex with a beautiful woman. Who then pulls out a chainsaw and proceeds to hack him to death while she continues to ride him.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Masturbating to increasingly disturbing stuff was the main goal for the contestants in "Libido," with the last one to climax getting killed.
  • Eyes Do Not Belong There: While looking up the skirt of his female captor, the protagonist sees an eye staring back at him. Given his deteriorating physical and mental state at the time, this may have been a hallucination.
  • Out with a Bang: The protagonist is murdered by a beautiful woman while they are having sex.

M is for Miscarriage

  • Gross-Up Close-Up: If you don't want to see what a dead fetus looks like, skip "Miscarriage."

N is for Nuptials

  • Fowl-Mouthed Parrot: N Uptials has a man buying his fiancee a parrot, which he had trained to give her a wedding ring to propose to her. But after the proposal was made...the bird starts repeating the words of the man and his mistress during sex.
  • Not in Front of the Parrot: 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.

O is for Orgasm

  • Erotic Asphyxiation: Either goes horribly awry or is used as a cover for murder, depending on your interpretation.

P is for Pressure

  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Brilliantly deconstructed in Pressure, where the woman gets the money she needs by crushing a cat under her heels for an animal crush video.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: We (thankfully) do not see the main character from "Pressure" crush a poor kitten's head. We do hear it though.
  • Platonic Prostitution: The john hires the main character crush a kitten beneath her high heel shoes while he films it. None of the hookers he approaches will touch the job.
  • Red Light District: Pressure opens and closes in the city's red light district.

Q is for Quack

  • Adam Westing: Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett enjoy playing coke-sniffing, hypocritical versions of themselves.
  • I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: Adam and Simon kill themselves when Simon points his gun at Adam while trying to find the safety catch. The gun goes off shooting Adam, whose own gun discharges and shoots Simon.
  • What Happened to the Duck?: The fate of the duck that was intended to be shot unknown.

R is for Removed

  • Because You Were Nice to Me: The patient lets the nurse live when he escapes because she was the only one of the staff who was kind to him.
  • Blown Across the Room: When the patient shoots one of the guards, the guard is blown backwards across the corridor and smashes out through a window.
  • Generic Doomsday Villain: The doctors keeping the man hostage and forcing him into surgeries are never given an explanation for why they want the film strips his body makes. We never even learn what's on them.
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: While escaping, the patient smashes a glass flask full of blood over the orderly's head.
  • Human Resources: The killer in "Removed" goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against doctors who have been harvesting his skin to make 35 mm film.
  • Riddle for the Ages: Why was the patient attempting to tow that locomotive?
  • The Un-Reveal: The killer's face is never shown.

S is for Speed

T is for Toilet

  • Absurd Phobia: Features a child who is literally afraid of the toilet, to the point of having nightmares about it turning into a monster and killing his parents. Justified at the end, when the toilet ends up falling apart and crushing him to death.
  • The Can Kicked Him: The boy gets his head trapped between the toilet seat and the bowl, and then is killed when the cistern falls off the wall and crushes his skull.
  • Deranged Animation: Stop-motion animation done in an unsettlingly-amateurish look.
  • Generic Doomsday Villain: The toilet just comes to life for no reason and massacres the protagonist family. Of course, it is a child's nightmare, so having no logical reason for the horror fits.
  • Toilet Horror: A kid dreams about being in the restroom while his toilet turns into a man-eating monster.

U is for Unearthed

  • An Axe to Grind: One of the mob is carrying an axe that employs to good effect against the vampire.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Angry mob vs cornered vampire. Bet on angry mob.
  • Decapitation Presentation: The mob member with the axe decapitates the vampire and holds its head aloft. This is seen from Murderer P.O.V., indicating that the vampire's senses are still functioning at this point.
  • Generic Doomsday Villain: The vampire is awakened and immediately goes on a killing spree until it's put down. Judging by the fact that it only speaks in streaks and growls, it might not even be sentient.
  • Hero Antagonist: The angry mob.
  • Murderer P.O.V.: Unearthed is shown through the eyes of the vampire. Even after decapitation.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: These are ravenous creatures who kill the whole time they're awake, and only speak in shrieks and growls. They're impervious to most harm, and can only be killed by a stake to the heart followed by decapitation.
  • Villain Protagonist: The vampire.
  • Xenofiction: And not one of those self-righteous Humans Are the Real Monsters ones either. No, Unearthed is from the perspective of a complete monster who lives only to kill and destroy, and you're supposed to feel good when they slash the bastard's head off.

V is for V is for Vagitus (The Cry of a Newborn Baby)

  • Crapsack World: "V is for Vagitus (The Cry of a Newborn Baby)" is set in a dystopian future where, due to overpopulation, reproduction is only allowed by permit. Any unapproved babies are taken and killed. Meanwhile, the government has instituted a campaign of genocide and human experimentation against psychics, to the point of declaring them legally not alive.
  • Dystopian Edict: "Vagitus" is set in a future where women must earn their fertility through service to the government.
  • Hate Sink: Stoker is an agent of a dystopian government in a Bad Future where procreation without a permit is banned and psychics are subjected to genocide. When two of his agents capture a psychic family, Stoker has all of them killed with the intent to resurrect the baby for experimentation, flat admitting that he doesn't consider them to be people. When the baby reanimates and starts massacring his goons, Stoker orders the guy holding its head gunned down in a desperate attempt to wipe out the child. Cold and ruthless, Stoker exists to put a hatable face on a nightmarish regime.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: The robot has its eyes glow red whenever it detects the influence of mind control.

W is for WTF!

X is for XXL

  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Subverted. After the obese woman cuts herself into an emaciated figure, she falls over dead.
  • Flaying Alive: Gertrude does this to herself in an attempt to become skinny.
  • The Freelance Shame Squad: Every person Gertrude passes on the subway and the street mocks her for her weight.
  • Glasgow Grin: When Gertrude starts cutting herself, she cuts her mouth into a Glasgow grin in an attempt to have a permanent smile like the skinny girl on the television.
  • Gross-Up Close-Up: The main character ravenously chows down on slop she takes out the fridge, with close shots of her mouth as she chews.

Y is for Youngbuck

  • Bambification: Subverted. A decapitated deer's head is used to kill someone.
  • Eye Scream: The pedophile janitor gets antlers jammed into his eyes.
  • Hate Sink: The unnamed Villain Protagonist is a school janitor and secret pedophile. After he pervs on some boys playing basketball, he licks the sweat from the bleachers with disgusting glee. Eventually convincing one of the boys to go hunting with him, the janitor rapes the kid after he kills a deer.
  • Paedohunt: The disgustingly creepy janitor has apparently molested a boy. Thankfully, he gets what's coming to him when the boy kills him.
  • Repeat Cut: The arrow is seen being fired from three different angles.

Z is for Zetsumetsu (Extinction)

  • Bloody Hilarious: Zetsumetsu is directed by Yoshihiro Nishimura, so this isn't much of a surprise.
  • Crapsack World: Takes place in a post-apocalyptic Japan suffering from the aftermath of a nuclear strike.
  • Mind Screw: Zetsumetsu is just all over the place and nobody seems to be able to tell what's going on.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Aside from the post-apocalyptic setting, there doesn't seem to be anything related to extinction going on... or maybe not. Who can tell?
  • One-Hit Polykill: The Rice Girl fires one bullet that goes through the heads of all three men making sushi.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Zetsumetsu seems to be going for this with the over-the-top political and sexual imagery in addition to all the violence.
  • Shout-Out: Zetsumetsu contains numerous references to Dr. Strangelove, particularly the wheelchair-bound narrator and nuclear war theme.


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