For the next 31 days, we here at Adamantium Bullet will be reviewing one horror flick a day leading up to Halloween. Each one will be horrific, terrifying, chilling, pulse-pounding, or flat-out awful. All endured in honor of the season. Expect SPOILERS. Welcome to Adamantium Bullet’s 31 DAYS OF HORROR.
PLOT: It's all about the Soy Sauce, a drug that promises an out-of-body experience with each hit. But some who come back are no longer human. Suddenly a silent otherworldly invasion is underway, and mankind needs a hero. What it gets instead is John (Rob Mayes) and David (Chase Williamson), a pair of college dropouts who can barely hold down jobs.
BODY COUNT: 38. Dave (Chase Williamson) chops a slug with an axe, stomps two to death, and blasts Fred (Jimmy Wong) with a shotgun. Marconi (Clancy Brown) zapped the “Meat Monster” to death via cell phone and a shot a random cultist dead. Twelve randos were eaten by spiders in a vicious act of animated aracnicide. Eight teens and one adult (I think his name was maybe Bruce?) were killed off-screen. Detective Lawrence’s (Glynn Thurman) head exploded, after he shot Dave in the chest in a vision, and executed Justin (Jonny Weston) in “reality” and burnt the body. The real Arnie (Paul Giamatti) was decapitated off-screen, an old woman (Pat McNeely) keeled over and died, and three cultists (one of whom is buck naked) are eaten by Korrok (voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson). Finally, Korrok and the Cult Leader (Daniel Roebuck) are killed when the dog, Bark Lee (Bark Lee), suicide bombs them with a mini-nuke.
MOST MEMORABLE KILL: It’s either the unexpected death of the “Meat Monster” or Bark Lee’s sacrifice. One of the two. Take your pick.
NAKEDNESS: Shirtless Rob Mayes and Chase Williamson early on. Hundreds of freaky, mask-wearing men and women cultists later.
SIGNATURE MOMENT: All the best cult movies are loaded with moments and beats that stick with you. JOHN DIES AT THE END is no exception. Some highlights: The pre-credit story about the axe, the “Meat Monster” bit, the magical fake Jamaican (Tai Bennett), Amy (Fabianne Therese) and her missing hand, Dave’s pet “Brain Spider”, the killer flying mustache, Lawrence and his casual reference to the can of gasoline, the naked cultists who worship John and Dave, the time-traveling phone calls from John, Bark Lee driving the truck, Bark Lee’s sacrifice, Bark Lee, Dave’s vision of the universe, the spike bat with pages from the Bible wrapped around it, the magical door in the abandoned mall, the sequel set-up. Take your pick …again.
IDIOT MOMENT: Dave, realizing Lawrence is about to discover him snooping around a crime scene, decides to hide in plain sight. By plain sight, we mean Dave leans against a wall in the kitchen that is facing the door Lawrence is about to come through. Huh?
“WTF?!?” MOMENT: There are a lot of WTF moments in JOHN DIES AT THE END, but the most WTF of them all has to be the big reveal of the alternate dimension full of naked cultists who worship John and Dave. Yep. That happened. Process and move on.
USELESS KNOWLEDGE: Director Don Coscarelli stumbled on David Wong's novel as a result of an email product recommendation: "True story: I received an email from a robot on Amazon.com, and it told me if I liked the zombie book I just read, that I would like John Dies at the End. I read the little logline, and it was just amazingly strange. I thought, 'Well this might even make a good movie.' Plus, it had arguably the greatest title in motion picture history."
> The title comes from the novel originally being published one chapter at the time online so readers would always have to come back to find out if John died or not.
> The uniforms worn by the two members of the Human Liberation Army were not made for this film. They originally appeared as Thermian outfits in the film GALAXY QUEST.
> John's full name is, according to the parcel he sends himself, John Cheese.
> The mall where the “Mall Of The Dead” sequence was filmed is the same mall that producer Roman Perez saw the earlier Don Coscarelli movie PHANTASM at, back when the mall was in business and had a movie theater.
> The character of Amy Sullivan in the movie is an amalgam of two characters from the book. In the book, there's an additional female character named Jennifer "Jen" Lopez, who only shares the name with the famous singer. She became Dave's girlfriend and has tried the "Soy Sauce" herself, although she refuses to acknowledge any effects it may or may not have had on her.
> John's full name, John Cheese, is a reference to Cracked.com comedy writer John Cheese (real name Mack Leighty) who co-wrote "John Dies at the End" and the sequel "This Book is Full of Spiders: Seriously, Dude, Don't Touch It" with David Wong (real name Jason Pargin). In the end of "This Book is Full of Spiders," David Wong claims that John demands "at least one scene per book in which he 'ramps something,' along with a flat payment for each time I [Wong] use the name in print."
> All of the USELESS KNOWLEDGE was provided by IMDB.