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JOHN DIES AT THE END (BLU RAY)
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Reviewed by: Andre Manseau

Directed by: Don Coscarelli

Starring:
Paul Giamatti
Chase Williamson
Rob Mayes

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about
A new street drug that sends its users across time and dimensions has one drawback: some people return as no longer human. Can two college dropouts save humankind from this silent, otherworldly invasion?
Is it good movie?
Weird, weird, weird. If I was one of the folks approached to have my comments for this flick reduced to a quote, I'd have to say that "weird, weird, weird" would sum things up quite well. I was really pumped for Don Coscarelli's latest, and after watching it twice, I can say that I still don't totally know exactly how I feel about it because it really screws with your mind and introduces a whole new world with different mind-bending realities that the viewer must keep track of at once. With that said, it's a hell of a ride that will pay off if you're patient enough to put it all together, or if you just want to have a ton of memorable moments to talk about with your friends.

Essentially, the film works like this- a couple of dropouts named Dave and John are at a diner (conversing with none other than Paul Giamatti, who plays Arnie) where we learn that they're essentially supernatural, other-worldly superheroes who certainly don't look the part. The story here is how they came to be who they are, and a whole lot more from there. This flick weaves all kinds of plot twists that will surprise and confuse you while mixing in buckets of gore, laughs and existentialism at the same time- if the makes any sense.

Yeah, we know how things are going to end before they get there. We know that John (Rob Mayes) is going to meet his grisly end, and he spends most of the flick in big trouble while his buddy Dave (Chase Williamson) has to bail him out. I can't accurately describe how things tend to proceed, but this movie is just insane. If you're looking for something creative, risky and unlike anything you've never seen before, you can slap this one in. Whether you'll like it is one thing, whether you understand it, another thing altogeher.

Theres a bit of everything here- bizarre psychadelic drugs (soy sauce?),  sausage phones, facial hair turning into insects, animals running vehicles, meat monsters, penis bombs, slipping in and out of time, some nudity and of course, jokes abound. The cool thing about this story that is weaved is that the viewer isn't really told what's real, and what isn't (though that will understandable frustrate some viewers). If you're paying enough attention, you'll notice that this is a well-crafted story too. Coscarelli adapts this book with sharp wit, and his story is somewhat coherent if you're looking to connect all the dots- they just might be pretty far apart. As a bit of criticism, I must mention that this movie is heavy on story (though it might not seem it during some scenes), and there are times when the insanity slows down to feature a ton of talking. It's necessary, but in comparison to some of the moments, the pace halts a bit.

It seems that as this movie goes along, it becomes apparent that anything at all can happen at seemingly any time. To spoil things would really take away from this one because this has to be watched from start to finish knowing as little as possibly. However, if you like rules, logic and linear stories, you need to apply elsewhere. Our cast is excellent as well, with strong leads who break out of their stereotypical smarmy-tv-show mold, and a great supporting cast that includes the great Doug Jones and Clancy Brown in memorable roles I won't spoil here. As a half-compliment, even the great Paul Giamatti fails to stand out against this absurd story.

Ultimately, whether or not you enjoy John Dies at the End is up to you, the viewer. I admit that it blew me away and I didn't know how to feel, but this is a creative tornado of a movie that doesn't let up and can ultimately leave you pretty satisfied if you give it some thought, and perhaps a second or third (or fourth) watch. This is a movie that you'll want to show your friends, and you haven't quite seen anything like it.
Video / Audio
Video comes in 1.78:1 widescreen, and the quality is practically flawless. Great colors, lots of minute details, just generally pretty great.

Audio appears in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and is also excellently balanced and well presented. Great surround work with plenty of cool moments to enjoy.
The Extras
First is a Commentary with Director Don Coscarelli, Producer Brad Baruh, Chase Williamson and Rob Mayes. It's a great track as it's always a joy to listen to Coscarelli, who leads things charismatically and keeps the conversation flowing.

If you're interested in more insanity, there's 9 deleted scenes in about 10 minutes. Don't expect any explanations though.

Getting Sauced: The Making of John Dies at the End runs about 7 minutes long and doesn't add much, though the story of how Coscarelli got to this project is a keeper. Pretty standard stuff though.

Creature Corps: The Effects of Soy Sauce is about 9 minutes long and deals with the effects, most of which were (thankfully) practical. Good stuff.

Casting sessions features some auditions from our main cast and runs about 7 minutes.

A Fangoria Interview with Paul Giamatti runs about 10 minutes and is expectedly fantastic. Giamatti is a passionate, intelligent and captivating individual. Just too short!

Finally, we get a trailer for this flick, a plug for John Dies at the End author David Wong's next book, and some Magnolia Home Entertainment trailers.
Last Call
This is a movie that doesn't take itself seriously and weaves many different tales. You could tell me you absolutely hated it, I'd understand where you were coming from. Then again, you could tell me it was your very favorite movie and I'd be right there with you. I can tell you that this is a great blu-ray of a very original film. The rest is up to you.
ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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