John Dies at the End is a movie about demons, and a drug called soy sauce, and a monster made of meat (like, steaks and ribs and an oven-ready turkey), and alternate realities, and ghosts, and mystical dogs, and a sentient biological computer that looks vaguely like Charybdis (the way Charybdis looks in my imagination). And it’s about a couple of bros who get wrapped up in all of this stuff.
This is all to say, this is a strange movie. Which should be expected, given that it’s based on a bizarro alt-fiction story originally serialized online and adapted by Don Coscarelli, who directed Phantasm (which I saw at a way-too-young age and ended up totally scarred by that floating silver ball o’ death) and Bubba Ho Tep, the Bruce-Campbell-as-Elvis fighting a mummy flick that doubles as one of the most earnest looks at the awfulness of aging that we’ve seen on film. (I love Bubba Ho Tep. It’s flawless.)
John starts out with a lot of promise, careening into a non-plot (a series of events that seem marginally related and even less marginally comprehensible) that involve the two bros (John being one of them) getting involved in some mystic evil related to the mysterious drug soy sauce and fighting demons, all of this in various timelines. At one point, a mustache peels off of a man’s face and flies around like a menacing vampire bat. It’s anarchic storytelling, fully liberated from standards and structures and expectations. It’s the kind of writing that I—an obsessive outliner—can only dream about (honestly, my dreams are pretty structured, too).
Disappointingly, the film’s final two-thirds falls into a more predictable pattern, and we’re left with a strange but underwhelming story. Worth watching for some fantastically wonky moments, but ultimately it’s a movie that steps right up to the edge, only to lose its nerve and retreat to solid ground.
Hey, Free Comic Book Day is on Saturday! Go out and pick up some free comics! And buy some not-free ones! Sadly, I will not be taking part in the festivities. Instead, I will be listening to some great bands (and drinking more beer than I should) at the Shaky Knees Festival here in Atlanta. But I do have a handful of signings coming up with the looming release of my first issue of Green Lantern Corps (No. 21, which comes out June 12).
6/12—Starting at 5:30 p.m., I’ll be at Dr. No’s in Marietta (home of the legendary Cliff Biggers). Rob Venditti, who is co-plotting GLC and is the new writer of Green Lantern also will be there.
6/15—Starting at 2 p.m., I’ll be at Richard’s Comics & Collectibles in Greenville, S.C. I’ve known Richard for years, but this is the first time I’ll get to visit his shop. Very excited to get up I-85 and see it.
6/16—Starting at 1 p.m., I’ll be at Titan Games & Comics in Duluth. I haven’t been to the shop before, but I’ve heard great things.