Don Coscarelli has been making films for years – apparently. Not being the horror aficionado that others are, I was unaware of his being responsible for the Phantasm series. He also made The Beastmaster – a sword and sorcery cult classic in the vein of Conan the Barbarian. Speaking of cult classics, he also gave us Bubba Ho-Tep; the twisted tale of two old guys who may or may not be Elvis Presley and JFK fighting an ancient mummy in a retirement home.
John Dies At The End is another oddity and for this reason it’s great. Adapted from the book of the same name, this one is about two underachievers living fairly mundane lives then being thrown into bat-shit crazy circumstances. There’s a new drug on the scene called Soy Sauce that delivers an out-of-this-world high but the side effects are fatal for some and there’s some weird paranormal stuff going on too.In my teen years someone put me onto an author by the name of Robert Rankin, a humorist endorsed by Terry Pratchett (which was huge for me as I was a bit of a Discworld fan). Rankin’s stories felt, at times, like the stream-of-consciousness ramblings of a madman littered with in-jokes and a healthy awareness of pop culture (literary and film) references. This movie is like the bastard son of a Rankin story and after doing a little reading on its writer David Wong (aka Jason Pargin) and the stories’ web-based inception, I understand why.
Our heroes Dave and John are played by Chase Williamson and Rob Mayes respectively and they get us through this bizarro story with support from such greats as Paul Giamatti (Sideways), Clancy Brown (Highlander), Doug Jones (Hellboy franchise) and a dog named Bark Lee.It’s a little uneven in places and quite obviously wasn’t the most expensive movie in the world. Despite this, it’s still very entertaining.