Anthology horror should be a much bigger influence on the American film industry than it is. You have a form that allows you to tell a few complete stories in the same running time as one feature length film. If people are turned off by the first story in an anthology, there’s a chance they might fall for the second, third, fourth, or fifth (or even the framing device or an intermediary quick cut gag). It should be a crowd pleasing form that brings some kind of satisfaction for a lower budget.
Instead, it’s a form that struggles to find its footing in America. The last time we regularly received wide releases of anthology horror was the 1980s (Creepshow, The Twilight Zone, Heavy Metal, etc.). Even then, it was falling out of favor. Studios like Amicus (Torture Garden, Asylum, Monster Club) made their big money on star-studded anthology horror. The box office returns matter, obviously, but the lower budgeted format–each big actor only needs to be there for a fraction of the shoot, the technical demands are smaller as each story can only have a few locations, a single crew and creative team for multiple stories, etc.–would mean that an anthology film doesn’t need to sell as many tickets to recoup. And if the one segment blows up, more people will pay to see all the other stories just for that one moment of brilliance.
Leave it to the incomparable Alamo Drafthouse to take a chance on anthology horror again. The company, championed for its zero tolerance cellphone and public disturbance policy in its expanding chain of theaters, launched Drafthouse Films as a nationwide distributor for more unusual productions.
Drafthouse Films, the film distribution arm of the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, is a curated brand of provocative, visionary and artfully unusual films new and old from around the world.
Is it any surprise, then, that The ABCs of Death would be championed for a nationwide release on 3 November? The anthology film got a lot of press when it announced its concept and a contribution contest to go with it. 26 directors would direct 26 short films about death under the structure of the alphabet. The letter T comes from amateur submissions sent in from all around the world. YouTube animated gore phenom Lee Hardcastle took the prize with “T is for Toilet.”
Obviously, The ABCs of Death will be gory. They hired genre directors to do shorts about death. There will be blood, guts, and general mayhem. The trailer promises just that. It’s quite exciting if a bit heavy handed with the kill scenes. I mean, you have 26 to choose from so they can’t all be spoiled. I would have gone with just a little more restraint on the blood factor.
The trailer also introduces a new aspect of the anthology horror’s concept. Fans can vote at the official website for the best entry. Suddenly, a collaborative labor of love has become a competition for top death. It’s an odd choice, but one that could raise the profile of the post-Halloween fall horror release.
What do you think? Will you be seeing The ABCs of Death in theaters? Sound off below. Love to hear from you.