Friday, August 22, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

'John Dies at the End': Loopy, icky sci-fi with crazy soy sauce

Chase Williamson (left) as Dave Wong is interviewed by a journalist played by Paul Giamatti in "John Dies at the End."
Chase Williamson (left) as Dave Wong is interviewed by a journalist played by Paul Giamatti in "John Dies at the End."
About the movie
John Dies at the End
Genre:
Comedy; Horror; SciFi, Fantasy
MPAA rating:
R
for bloody violence and gore, nudity, language and drug content
Running time:
01:39
Release date:
2013
Rating:
Cast:
Fabianne Therese; Doug Jones; Paul Giamatti; Jimmy Wong; Chase Williamson; Jonny Weston; Clancy Brown; Daniel Roebuck; Glynn Turman; Rob Mayes
Directed by:
Don Coscarelli

Never mind the reanimated corpse with the stitched-on severed head.

Never mind the monster made of sausages, meat patties, offal, and poultry parts, lunging to life from a basement freezer.

The really scary thing in John Dies at the End - a gonzo sci-fi/horror/mystery from Bubba Ho-Tep cult director Don Coscarelli - is that flying mustache: Right off the face of a zombie cop, the thing flaps around, making weird squawks and scaring the bejesus out of Dave Wong (Chase Williamson), the movie's psychic, and perhaps psychotic, hero.

Salvador Dali meets George Romero. Say hello.

Over-the-top, gross, and funny, John Dies at the End follows the addled Dave and his deadpan buddy John (Rob Mayes) as they face head-spinning phenomena - demonism, hauntings, vampirism, phallic doorknobs (don't ask).

The plot's loopy. The effects - old-school prosthetics and new-school CG - are icky. And then there's the special soy sauce that, once consumed, alters your mind forever. If Timothy Leary had owned a Chinese restaurant and had grown up reading Tales From the Crypt comics, then, well, Timothy Leary would have owned a Chinese restaurant and grown up reading Tales From the Crypt comics.

Which isn't beside the point, because much of what happens in John Dies at the End has its origins in a booth at They Chinese Restaurant, where Dave sits with his soy sauce, nervously flashing back and flashing into the future while a skeptical journalist, played with bug-eyed aplomb by Paul Giamatti, scribbles notes.

John Dies at the End isn't deep. But it is deeply amusing, in the sickest possible way.


Contact Steven Rea at 215-854-5629 or srea@phillynews.com. Read his blog, "On Movies Online," at www.philly.com/onmovies .

 

Steven Rea Inquirer Movie Columnist and Critic
Also on Philly.com
Stay Connected