John Dies at the End (Blu-ray) (2012)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 20-Nov-2013

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy / Horror Audio Commentary-Feature length with director, producer and two stars.
Deleted Scenes-(9:39) Seven short scenes
Featurette-Making Of-(6:46) Getting Sauced : The Making of John Dies at the End
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-(8:35) Creature Corps : The Effects of Soy Sauce
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-(7:14) Casting Sessions : Screen tests of young actors
Interviews-Cast-(9:51) Fangora Interview with Paul Giamatti
Theatrical Trailer-(4:59) Two trailers for the feature
Reversible Cover-Stills, poster and credits
Trailer-Two startup trailers (2:57)
Theatrical Trailer-Four Asylum trailers (8:48)
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2012
Running Time 99:33
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Don Coscarelli
Studio
Distributor
Magnolia Pictures
Madman Entertainment
Starring Chase Williamson
Rob Mayes
Paul Giamatti
Clancy Brown
Glynn Turman
Doug Jones
Fabianne Therese
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $34.95 Music Brian Tyler


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures Yes
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
Spanish
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, Action from opening.

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

  
   Don Coscarelli is an American movie producer/writer/director who came to cult prominence with Phantasm (1979), the first of four titles in that series, all created and executed by Coscarelli. Other notable cult favourites from this filmmaker have been one of my favourite fantasy films, The Beastmaster (1982), featuring the talented and muscularly spectacular Marc Singer, and 2002's Bubba Ho-Tep which featured Bruce Campbell as an aged Elvis Presley residing in a nursing home. The latest feature from the always entertaining Coscarelli is based on the comedy horror novel, John Dies at the End. This work, written by Jason Pargin, using the pseudonym of David Wong, began as a webserial in 2001, became a printed paperback in 2007, and then, with the addition of some material, a hardcover in 2009.
Now Madman have given us a local release of this independent movie which delivers on every level.

    Most people will either love or loathe John Dies at the End. It is chaotic, at times incoherent, a mix of surreal mayhem and comedic horror that will either delight you or have you reaching for the eject button. If your intrerest is aroused by a film that opens with the gruesome beheading of a zombie, and then delivers harassing and otherwise troublesome dead boyfriends, human heads that explode into snakes, a monster assembled from contents of a meat freezer, psychic powers, giant leeches, caged monsters, a "ghost door", a sentient organic computer and its naked disciples, plus an endearing and pivotal dog named "Bark Lee", then this is one for you. I was thoroughly entertained, even at times delighted with the enthusiastic inventiveness of the procedings and the expert filmmaking that is evident throughout.

    The rollercoaster of a plot centres on the emergence of a new street drug, referred to as "Soy Sauce". Users are sent across time and dimensions after injection with the drug, with one severe drawback. Upon return to "normality", some are no longer human. There is a cloak and dagger alien invasion underway, and where is the hero who can stop this alien horror and save humanity. Actually two unlikely heroes emerge, Dave Wong (Chase Williamson) and John (Rob Mayes), two college dropouts who are barely capable of holding down a job. The freewheeling narrative is framed by the device of an interview between Dave and Arnie Blondstone (Paul Giamatti), an interview which creates its own questions while answering others. Performances are excellent, with both young male leads really impressing. In his first feature movie, Chase Williamson is a real find. This fine young actor is soon to be seen as the lead in Sparks. Rob Mayes, the singing heart throb of MTV's The American Mall (2008)) and currently on cinema screens in Enough Said, is funny, sexy and charming. Paul Giamatti, popping up in the current season of Downton Abbey, gives fine support, as well as having functioned as Executive Producer. Also making strong contributions are Clancy Brown (Cowboys and Aliens), Glynn Turman (TV's House of Lies), Doug Jones (Hocus Pocus - but here without characteristic makeup) and young and attractive Fabianne Therese (Endless Love).

    If you are entertained by monster movies of the 50's or appreciate dedicated, enthusiastic filmmaking, I would unreservedly recommend John Dies at the End. There are a few flat spots, but the film also delivers an almost countless number of little jabs of pleasure that much more than compensate. The disc looks terrific, sounds great and has a healthy bag of extras that enhance the viewing of this wildly enjoyable comedy/horror romp. This is a good package, which I guarantee you will watch more than once.
 

 

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    John Dies at the End  comes to your screen in a transfer that generally belies its modest financial origins.

    The film is presented at the aspect ratio of 1.78:1, its original theatrical ratio.

    One of the pluses of the digital movie age is that an independent film such as this, with a modest budget, is able to look so good on our screens. The 1080p image is generally brilliantly sharp and detailed, close-ups particularly revealing. The opening scene of a snow bound log dwelling is a stunner, equalled by the series of great closeups which follow.The colours are rich and blacks deep. Shadow detail is very good, with just the occasional hint of compression in a few scenes. Some of the CGI effects are more obvious given the detail of the image, but this possibly adds another depth to the cheesy aspects of the genre. The assured photography from Director of Photography Mike Gioulakis (The Book of Caleb) is excellent, with hand-held sequences controlled and titally in tune with what is being presented on the screen. Technically the film is first rate.

   There are English Descriptive Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired, which are in basic white at the foot of the screen. In addition, there are Spanish subtitles.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are two audio streams : English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Encoded at 48 kHz.
                                                  English with optional feature length commentary Dolby Digital Surround Encoded at 48 kHz.
  
    Perhaps the soundtrack does reveal the modesty of the production, not having the aural fireworks we have come to expect from most films of this ilk, but I found the aural experience most satisfying. Dialogue is front and centred, with no problems of comprehension or sync. There is an almost constant use of the surrounds, providing an alive and immersive sound field. The atmospheric, and frequently eerie, music of Brian Tyler (Iron Man Three) is given quite dazzling surround reproduction and adds considerably to the entertainment. The subwoofer is not going to rattle the floorboards, but is utilised frequently to provide  depth to the effects as well as the score.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

   

Menu

    The menu screen incorporates a central montage of scenes from the film, surrounded by a galaxy and weird swirls. Music from the film is heard throughout all menu functions.
    The options offered are :

    Play Movie
    Scene Selection : 
Selection gives an overlay of three strips each of four thumbnailed chapters.
    Set Up : 
Audio : English DTS-HD MA 5.1
                               English Dolby digital 2.0 Surround encoded
                   Subtitles : Descriptive English for the Hearing Impaired
                                   Spanish
                                   None
      Special Features :  * Play film with Commentary by Director Don Coscarelli, Producer Brad Baruh, and stars Chase Williamson and Rob Mayes.
                                     * Deleted Scenes (9:39) : Seven short scenes, including an alternate ending.
                                     * Featurette : Getting Sauced : The Making of John Dies at the End (6:46).
                                     * Featurette : Creature Corps : The Effects of Soy Sauce (8:35).
                                     *
Featurette : Casting Sessions (7:14).
                                     *
Featurette : Fangoria Interview with Paul Giamatta (9:51).Going to The Place Beyond the Pines (2:43)
                                     * Trailers : Two theatrical trailers for the feature, the first 2:26 and the second 2:33.
                                     * Book Promotion : Books by David Wong : Graphic for John Dies at the End
                                                                                                          "Trailer" for This Book Is Full of Spiders (1:12).
                                     *  Asylum Trailers  (8:48)
                                     *  Startup Trailers : (2:57)
  

Extras :

Although there is nothing here of any depth, what we have is much better than the bare-bones releases we have had of some independent films. The offerings, though skimpy, seem genuine and because of this they are very worth a look and listen. All are presented in high definition.


Feature Length Commentary :
This enjoyable commentary comes from Director Don Coscarelli, Producer Brad Baruh and the two young male stars, Chase Williamson and Rob Mayes. As you might expect, this is a relaxed and jovial commentary, with much laughing, but does include extensive technical information about the production and numerous references to the book as source material. This production obviously was an enjoyable experience for these enthusiastic filmmakers.


Deleted Scenes (9:39) :
Seven scenes of varying lengths, all presented in the same high quality as the feature. One scene is an alternate ending, which is not as satisfactory as the one actually used, while another answers a continuity problem.


Featurette : Getting Sauced : The Making of John Dies at the End (6:46) :
At such a short length, this is obviously going to be a very shallow glimpse into the production. We do get some on-set footage and short interviews with the stars.


Featurette : Creature Corps : The Effects of Soy Sauce (8:35) :

Here the focus is on the special effects, with an interesting excursion into the production's props and monsters shop.


Featurette : Casting Sessions (7:14) :

An interesting look at the screen tests for the younger roles. There is a close-up reading by Chase Williamson, followed by Fabianne Therese, the film's "Amy",  and, very briefly, Allison Weissman,  who is in the film as "Shelly". The final reading is of a scene between the "Dave" and "John" characters , with Chase Williamson and Rob Mayes. The camera here concentrates on Mayes, so one would assume that at this point Williamson had been cast. I found this to be an interesting insight.


Featurette : Fangoria Interview with Paul Giamatti (9:51) :
Paul Giamatti
, as well as being one of the stars of the film, was instrumental in its production. He was an enthusiastic Executive Producer and here exhibits his continued enthusiasm for the finished product. He begins by expressing his love of horror films, and obviously enjoyed this experience. He explains how he became involved in the project, after a planned venture with Coscarelli lost its finance. The discussion covers the craziness of the book, and how the film manages to retain much of that craziness, if not all of it. The actor also expresses a preference for prosthetic monsters over the computer generated variety. A good interview, with sensible questions and seemingly frank responses.


Book Promotion : Books by David Wong (1:12) :

Here we have two graphics, one for the novel on which this film is based, and one for the sequel, This Book Is Full of Spiders, for which there is a 1:12 "trailer".


Asylum Trailers (8:48) :

Let the Right One In :
1080p and 2.40:1 (1:38)
The Loved Ones : 1080p and 2.40:1 (2:02)
Splice : 1080p and 1.78:1 (2:24)
Undead : 1080p and 1.78:1 (2:44).


Startup Trailers (2:57) :

Silenzio
: 1080p and 1.78:1 (1:25)
Monsters
: 1080p and 2.40:1 (1:32)




 

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The U.S. and the local release are identical.

Summary

   Here we have a movie that has enough comedy and horror to satisfy any moviegoer. Made with a multitude of references to horror/monster movies of the past, this is very nearly a constant delight. There are a few dull patches, but these do not last long. In no time there will be something up there on the screen to have you either chuckling or squirming. The young leads are admirable, and the stellar supporting players add enormously to the strength of the piece. Made with technique and flair, this is an unexpected treat. The extras are numerous and enjoyable, if a trifle shallow. The movie sounds great, and is given a generally sparkling high definition transfer.

   

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Garry Armstrong (BioGarry)
Friday, February 28, 2014
Review Equipment
DVDSONY BLU RAY BDP-S350, using HDMI output
DisplaySamsung LA55A950D1F : 55 inch LCD HD. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-DS777
SpeakersVAF DC-X fronts; VAF DC-6 center; VAF DC-2 rears; LFE-07subwoofer (80W X 2)

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE