Tuesday, May 14, 2013

John Dies At The End ~ An Adventure Into The Absurd

John Dies At The End Banner | A Constantly Racing Mind


"Time is an ocean, not a garden hose.  Space is a puff of smoke, a wisp of cloud.  Your mind... is a flying corn snake hovering through all the possibilities."

If you have ever taken hallucinogenic drugs in your life, you may, or may not want to watch "John Dies at the End.”  You may want to watch it because those LSD flashbacks haven't occurred any time recently and you truly miss them.  Perhaps, back in the day, you and your self-medications didn't sit well for you and that little vacation in your mind took a turn on the road that nobody wants to travel and you don't want to go back.  Well, this is your warning that proceeding with this review of "John Dies at the End" may or may not trigger flashbacks or memories that you may or may not want to re-experience.  Let me say right away that "John Dies At The End" is not your typical mainstream sci-fi comedy.  In fact, it takes a certain sense of humor and open mind to appreciate this film.  You might even want to say that this is really a strange, trippy, cult film -- okay, I said it.  "John Dies At The End" stars Chase Williamson and Rob Mayes ("Ice Castles").  Also along for this crazy ride is Clancy Brown of "Highlander," "Starship Troopers," and "Pet Semetary II," as well as Paul Giamatti, who serves as executive producer.

John Dies At The End Arnie Blondestone | A Constantly Racing Mind

Taken from a Carlos Castaneda’s nightmare, along with an unlabeled mix of party favors and popping them in your mouth before you realized you did, the story unfolds chronologically messy and uneven.  It is not until the first 15 minutes of the film that you start getting your balance and realize that you can easily go with the flow.  Two high school graduates and college dropouts find themselves in the midst of an invasion of our world from another dimension.  After watching some scenes that utterly make no sense and seemingly have no relevance to the plot other than to let you know that you are already on a journey down the rabbit-hole.  We find out that the narrator of our story is a kid name David Wong (Williamson).  As we have already seen, things are not as they seem, and Dave Wong is not Asian in any way but explains that he was adopted and eventually he changed his name.  If you are confused, you are supposed to be.  Paul Giamatti plays Arnie Blondestone, a newspaper reporter who Dave called to tell his extraordinary comic story of drugs, death, psycho cops, and other dimensions. 

John Dies At The End John & Dave | A Constantly Racing Mind

As it turns out, both Dave and his best friend John (Mayes), are night stalkers of sorts, and have built up a reputation as the go-to-guys when the weird gets absurdly strange.  Dave tells his story in an indirect, twisted fashion, about how two years ago he and his friend John, after a party where John's band "Three Armed Sally" was playing and they both met Amy who has a prosthetic hand, a dog called Bark Lee and a fake magical Jamaican dude who goes by the name of Robert Marley. I was also going to list a psycho cop who goes around with a can of gasoline and tends to like fires, but the sentence was getting too long.  


As you may know, that anything goes at a party, where there are plenty of drugs and alcohol, and that is exactly what happens.  Marley, with the new street drug "Soy Sauce," like Daniel in the Bible's Old Testament, tells John exactly about one of John’s own dreams that he had and exactly when he had it.  Soy sauce is a black goo similar to the black oil stuff from "The X-Files" and it grows hair.  The sauce cause your mind (or you, not sure which) to slip out of time, lets you see all possible futures at once, which I think, would be really annoying. 

John Dies At The End Freaky | A Constantly Racing Mind

At all times throughout the film, you are not sure if our heroes are actually just on a bad acid trip, or it there are really oversized insectile creatures really coming out of some of the characters mouths or exploding out of them.  Another character that must be mentioned who is somewhat relevant is Clancy Brown as Dr. Albert Marconi and TV show psychic and showman.  He appears throughout the film, usually on late night infomercials but we find out that he, like Bark Lee is essential to the plot.  Keep that in mind. 

John Dies At The End Poster | A Constantly Racing MindDon Coscarelli, better known as the writer and director for the campy "The Beastmaster" from 1982 and 2002's "Bubba Ho-Tep" directs this film about two guys trying to keep the world from ending.  His style is frenetic, but actually conventional.  "John Dies At The End" actually makes sense in a whimsical kind of way.  Brian Tyler's ("Iron Man 3") musical score is right on.  Also used in the film to play John's band "Three Armed Sally" is really The Inevitable Backlash.  They play the punkish “Camel Holocaust” as well as “He Never Left” while the end credits roll.

I haven't read the book "John Dies At The End," so fortunately I can't compare it to the book.  I thought it was an hour and a half of trippy fun.  Honestly, what do expect from Jason Pargin, the Senior Editor of Cracked.com who often goes by the nom de plume David Wong.  I am sure that there were plenty of scenes from the book that were left out, character blurred, or eliminated altogether, or certain story points over embellished, but hey, that's Hollywood.  So, if you are thinking about having your own screening of "John Dies At The End," I suggest you have plenty of party favors, tons of munchies, and make sure you only watch this film out of the corner of your eyes and not straight on.  If you don’t you might see waves of maggots over oceans of rot.


Movie Data

Genre: Comedy, Fantasy, Horror, Sci-Fi
Year:  2013
Staring: Chase Williamson, Rob Mayes, Clancy Brown, Paul Giamatti, Fabianne Therese, Glynn Turman
Director:  Don Coscarelli
Producer(s): Brad Baruh, Don Coscarelli, Andy Meyers, Roman Perez
Writer: Don Coscarelli, David Wong
Rating: R

    Buy on Amazon