Thursday, January 3, 2013

John Dies At the End

Happy New Year!  2013 has come.  And just three days into it, I've already seen one of the best movies of the year.  Or maybe it was one of the best movies of 2012...  It was released at Sundance 2012, but can only really be seen by the general populace when its released later this month.

"John Dies at the End" is based upon the novel "John Dies at the End" written by and starring David Wong, the chief editor of  As you'd expect from somebody who runs what is probably the most successful humor website on the Internet, David Wong's creation is a mixture of "Naked Lunch", "Buckaroo Banzai", and just a touch of "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World".  Its actually the movie I wish I had made, since its a silly but intensely weird adventure through SciFi and insanity.  Our most-likely mentally disturbed heroes save the world from an interdimensional alien invasion, while losing all grip on reality and communicating to the dead using a hot dog as a phone.  Its funny, its cool, and its even very frightening at a few points, because a movie this off-beat could go anywhere, and does.

How many movies have you seen that you can honestly say made you upset when they ended?  I don't mean the ending is sad and depressing (SPOILER: John actually dies at the middle and he's okay by the end), but you're deeply depressed that the movie you were watching has ended.  Your life is now a significantly worse place because the experience of "John Dies at the End" has concluded.  There shouldn't just be a sequel to "John Dies at the End", there should be fifty sequels.  They should make a movie like this every two months, or have a new episode of the "John Dies at the End Show" on Fox every Sunday in the timeslot currently held by whatever crappy show Seth McFarland is currently making.  I want more David Wong and John Cheese.  They need a comic book, a cartoon show, a radio program, a video game, and a puppet show.  When the DVD comes out, I'm going to have surgery preformed so that the disc will be grafted directly into the limbic system of my brain.  Watch this movie.

"John Dies at the End" begins with David asking the old Ship of Theseus Paradox.  He has an ax, its arm is snapped in half, and he replaces that.  Then the head breaks, so he replaces that.  Is it the same ax even if every piece that made the original ax has been replaced?  But what if the ax arm had snapped while chopping the head off a Nazi Zombie and the ax head had been broken killing an alien fly?  And how do you answer the Nazi Zombie now that he's reattached his head with some threads when he says "that's the ax that killed me!!"  Let that set the tone for the rest of the movie.

By the way, that story was has no particular plot or thematic connection or significance to the rest of the movie.  Its a very silly world that Dave and John live in.

Paul Giamati plays a reporter who Dave is speaking with, telling the story of his very first adventure.  If you recall, Paul Giamati's last role was Robert Pattinson's would-be assassin in the incomprehensible David Cronenberg film "Cosmopolis".  For some reason Paul Giamati seems to love insane cinema lately, he even produced "John Dies at the End".  But while "Cosmpolis" was bitter and slow and ultimately really dull while making no sense, "John Dies at the End" is silly, colorful, and exciting, and actually has a plotline that goes places, such as an alternate timeline fighting a biological computer monster made by a 19th century farmer who loved bestiality worshiped by a nudist populace who wear creepy animal masks.  And thus the world is saved.  Oh also, in the twist ending, Paul Giamati turned out to be a Black man.

The two leads who play Dave and John are two actors who I have never seen before and currently have red links on the film's Wikipedia page.  Dave's Chase Williamson is a monotone sarcastic creature who refuses to believe any of the insane things that are happening to him even while the boundaries of reality break down.  He's technically the hero, even though every heroic action is performed by John, a cop, an Italian television mystic, or a dog.  John himself is played by a handsome dude who seems far more comfortable with the total madness that is this movie.  That's probably because he's become one with time, having seen all events before they even happened, and able to call people from beyond the grave.  The duo has their powers of seeing the supernatural thanks to injecting themselves with some living black fluid called "Soy Sauce"*.

"John Dies at the End" is spent entirely through Dave's POV, since he's the one telling the story to Paul Giamati.  However, there are other characters wandering around having their own individual adventures.  Midway through the movie, Dave is arrested by an African American cop, who then spends much of the rest of the movie having his own surrealist adventure off-camera.  Also, just in case this movie wasn't entirely fanservice for me, Clancy Brown has a cameo as Albert Penis Marconi, that Italian mystic I mentioned a few sentences ago.  Dr. Marconi is perpetually followed by two hot chicks, and is so brilliant that he can exorcise a poltergeist over the phone in two seconds.

So in conclusion, I have no conclusion.  "John Dies at the End" is the movie you should see now.  And then again.  And then a third time, just to prove your loyalty to the sacred celluloid its been made on.  This was an all-around goddamn excellent movie.  Worship it.

* You can tell "John Dies at the End" is a work of fiction because in the real world, its actually Duck Sauce that gives you supernatural powers.  Pro tip, by the way.


  1. Are there any other movies similar to "John Dies At The End"?

    1. Okay, I can probably think of six or seven:

      The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension - has a similar plot, is very 80s and is probably sillier and weirder.

      Naked Lunch - the main character takes drugs and goes on an far FAR darker adventure across insanity, and it never comes back. Virtually plotless, more frightening than silly.

      Scott Pilgrim vs. the World - I dunno, it kinda reminds me of it.

      Head - the Monkees movie where the characters start off in a series of sketches and wind up trying to escape Hollywood... and fail.

      Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas - more obviously taking place in the real world, but it dips into pure nightmare at a few turns

      Donnie Darko - probably my least favorite movie here, but its still a character dipping into the surreal. The director's cut is far worse than the theatrical version though.

      House - 1977 Japanese horror film that is more comedy than anything else, I just love recommending this one

  2. Well, the whole "Axe Metaphor" thing has no plot relevance to the movie, but it has a lot of relevance to the book. (Spoilers:) The axe represents Dave, since he's a clone who killed himself. Is he still Dave, even though he doesn't have any "original parts"?