‘John Dies At The End’ Review

John Dies At The End

“Here’s to all the kisses I snatched, and vice versa.”

—Fred Chu

Think about it for a moment, you’ll get it.

One of Marvel Studios’ Phase Two projects is a feature film version of Doctor Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts. I still think that Ioan Gruffudd should play Strange, though who should direct?  On the strength of “John Dies At The End” (never mind his rather bizarre filmography) it should be Don Coscarelli.

The reason being is that the movie takes some really odd subject matter, and not only makes it approachable, but fun.  When I heard that this film was coming out a few years ago, I picked up the book by David Wong, so that I would go into the movie with some idea of what’s going on.

I enjoyed the read, but beneath the weird chocolately coating lies a somewhat conventional center.

What Coscarelli did was bring the most interesting, stranger parts of the novel to the screen, while de-emphasizing the conventional elements.  What’s left is a movie that plays like David Cronenberg’s “Naked Lunch,” with its reliance on mainly practical special effects, while unlike that aforementioned film actually makes sense.

What “John Dies At The End” also reminded me of the Hardy Boys.  On acid.

And apropos of Doctor Strange, wouldn’t Clancy Brown be an awesome Baron Mordo?

I am also resisting the temptation to reveal more about the movie–Trust me.  My restraint has been admirable–but the actors that play John and David Wong, Rob Mayes and Chase Williamson, are a great bit of casting.

I referred to Clancy Brown earlier, though he rounds out a remarkable cast that includes genre veterans like Angus Scrimm, Glynn Turman, Doug Jones and Paul Giamatti (who also executive produced).

Though all is not rosy because “John Dies At The End” deserves a nationwide release, as opposed to the limited one that it actually got.  I live in Washington, DC, and unlike Michael (thanks for reminding me that it was available online) over at Durmoose Movie Musings, I didn’t have the benefit of seeing this awesome movie in a theater.

Pity, that.

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6 thoughts on “‘John Dies At The End’ Review

  1. Brian – Coscarelli directing Dr. Strange with Clancy Brown as Mordo? Yeah, I definitely love that idea! I haven’t actually read the John Dies book yet, and I’m holding off writing up my own full review until after tomorrow when I’ll be seeing it again with a different group of friends, but I have to say that the word “fun” sums up my reaction too. This really is one of those movies that you just want to tell people “Trust me, just see it however you can.”
    Hmmm… Hardy Boys on acid… yeah, that’s good. :->

    • And the coolest thing is that, in the case of Marvel, it’s at least in the realm of possibility. After all, they put Joss Whedon (who’s “Serenity” underperformed at the box office) and James Gunn (who as far as I am aware has had no major successes) and the head of major franchises, so Coscarelli directing Doctor Strange is likely in my book because he’s been proven adept at handing weird subject matter with a sense of humor.

      • And, of course, don’t forget that when Sam Raimi took the reins of the first Spider-Man movie, he was just “the Evil Dead guy”. Hmmm… think I’m definitely going to have to go back and give Bubba Ho-Tep another look, because it’s not one that I was enamored with on first viewing, but that may have just been a time/place/mood thing.

      • Good point about Sam Raimi. I might have to do a write up about why Don Coscarelli should helm Doctor Strange.

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