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It seems that viewer response to John Dies At The End has been mixed. Those familiar with the book grouse that the movie adaptation takes too many liberties with the source material and omits too many key narrative points. Those unfamiliar with the book seem (mostly) to love the movie. I'm glad - for now, at least - that I'm unfamiliar with the book, because John Dies At The End was the most fun I've had watching a movie in a long while.
Now before I go on I must, in the interest of full disclosure, mention that my friend Adrienne - also unfamiliar with the book - watched it with me and loathed it. She characterized her viewing experience as "an hour and a half of my life that I'll never get back" and demanded to know why I hadn't warned her of what we were about to watch. Clearly, then, John Dies At The End will not be everyone's cup of tea, regardless of one's level of familiarity with the source material. Luckily, I was able to get back in her good graces tonight with a viewing of William Friedkin's Killer Joe, which we both enjoyed.
Though crafted on a modest budget, the cheesy effects suit the movie's tone perfectly. The CGI is a little dodgy, but the practical effects - supervised by Robert Kurtzman and Robert Hall - give up the 80's style latex and slime in glorious fashion. The "apocalypse on a budget" vibe invites favorable comparisons to Coscarelli's own Phantasm series, still my favorite genre franchise. Did I mention Angus "The Tall Man" Scrimm's cameo? Please, guys, give us just one more Phantasm installment while The Tall Man still lives.
Director Don Coscarelli and his cast are clearly having a blast telling this twisted tale, and the freewheeling absurdity of pretty much everything that happens is a delight. I was grinning from ear to ear throughout, and laughed out loud on more than one occasion. I don't often say this, but I can't wait for the sequel. Remember, though - Adrienne was not amused.
I'm debating whether or not I should read the book now . . .
Posted by Brandon Early