John Dies At The End: What in the Name of Elvis is going on?

JDATEJohn Dies At The End – 2013

Writer and Director Don Coscarelli
Starring Chase Williamson, Rob Mayes, Paul Giamatti, Clancy Brown, Doug Jones, Glynn Turman, Daniel Roebuck, Angus Scrimm, Jimmy Wong

One reaches a point where everything is a metaphor, and nothing is real.  Coscarelli reaches this point in the opening moments of John Dies at the End.  Whether you stick with it through every seemingly disconnected scene is up to you.  This is one time I don’t think that knowing what the metaphors mean makes one any wiser, or happier.  It just make us wonder what Coscarelli has been on for all of these years since he first arrived into the world of classic horror, with the first Phantasm movie.

There’s been three Phantasm sequels, The Beastmaster, and Bubba Ho-Tep since then, and his works have rarely, if ever, made sense.  The latter film, with Bruce Campbell playing Elvis in an old folks home facing off against an ancient Egyptian mummy, comes closest to coherence.  Mostly his films involve journeys of groups of goofballs with perpetually confused looks on their faces.  Along the way, there are insane creatures, alternate dimensions and realities, inventive special effects with bad camera angles.  This tale is no exception.  Sam Raimi went through this phase.  Coscarelli has stayed in it.

It’s not a bad film, but it wants to be.  It’s biggest crime is wasting the talent of Paul Giamatti.  Somehow I think Giamatti is okay with this, especially since he was a producer of the film.  If you like or even know the name, Don Coscarelli, give it a shot.  If not, try Phantasm or Bubba Ho-Tep.  If you get past those and want more, then come back for this, and its inevitable sequel by another name or story.

(**1/2 out of *****)

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