Synopsis: In John Dies At The End, it’s all about the Soy Sauce, a drug that promises an out-of-body experience with each hit. Users drift across time and dimensions. 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. Can these two stop the oncoming horror in time to save humanity? No. No, they can’t.
Release Date: January 25, 2013 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Horror, Comedy
Cult films are a strange breed. They usually flop in their initial release, only to find a loyal and fanatical audience playing at midnight in some art house theater on Saturday night years later. And then there’s John Dies at the End.
John Dies at the End is the story of David Wong (Chase Williamson from “Never Fade Away”) as told to a skeptical reporter named Arnie Blondestone (Saving Private Ryan‘s Paul Giamatti). Dave tells Arnie about the adventures of him and his friend, John Cheese (Rob Mayes from “90210”), as they discover and experiment with a drug called Soy Sauce. Soy Sauce has different effects on different people, playing with its users perceptions of time and space. One effect that it has on everybody is that it changes them to undead zombie-like beings who are hyper-ensitive to the advances of a cross-dimensional demon named Korrok who, with an army of minions, is bent on taking over the world. Using the Soy Sauce to heighten their inter-dimensional abilities, Dave and John must crossover themselves in order to prevent Korrok from invading.
Not much more can be said about John Dies at the End in way of a synopsis, partially because the film is better approached with as few spoilers as possible, but mostly because the narrative is just really out there. Horror icon Don Coscarelli (Phantasm, Bubba Ho-Tep) wrote the screenplay using the book by David Wong (the pen name of Cracked.com editor Jason Pargin) as a guide. The script is surprisingly coherent for being a non-linear narrative, but still has a ton of what-the-hell-just-happened moments. It’s a clever combination of horror, science fiction and fantasy, and it’s incredibly well written; Dave and John follow Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey (See Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero with a Thousand Faces”) like true heroes. They just encounter much weirder obstacles than Ulysses or Luke Skywalker. And the title may or may not be a spoiler.
Either because of the rabid following of the book or Coscarelli’s intense fan base (or a combination of both), John Dies at the End has already gathered a huge cult following, and it hasn’t even hit theaters yet. It doesn’t matter that the film is left of center in regards to mainstream cinema – Wong’s book and Coscarelli’s direction are a perfect teaming, and John Dies at the End should have a long life, at least on home video.
John Dies at the End is such a surreal, crazy film that it’s only right that it should have surreal, crazy visual effects. Special effects supervisor Robert Kurtzman (who, in addition to Army of Darkness and From Dusk Till Dawn, worked on Boogie Nights, which goes a long way in explaining why there’s a penis doorknob in the film) and his team have designed and built effects that capture a slasher vibe within a sci-fi/monster movie. The effects are very reminiscent of Army of Darkness, and range from simple makeup prosthetics to full-on monsters made of meat. The common element to the visual effects in John Dies at the End is that they are all painstakingly created and very well done.
A ton of credit has to be given to director Don Coscarelli. With John Dies at the End, he has worked a minor miracle; he has made a movie out of an unfilmable novel (David Wong’s “John Dies at the End). Rumor has it that Paul Giamatti signed on as a producer just so he could have a front-row seat to the director’s vision. Coscarelli treats the source material in an almost cartoony way, and the film is suitably surreal. The approach is very sci-fi/fantasy, but the film still keeps its roots firmly in the eighties slasher movie. There is enough gore to remind audiences of Troma flicks, but it still comes off as a fantasy film in the end. And Coscarelli’s sense of humor is on prominent display throughout. Don Coscarelli’s John Dies at the End is a film that leaves the viewer wondering the same thing as the characters, which is “what did I just see?”
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Don Coscarelli
- Screenwriter(s): Don Coscarelli
- Cast: Chase Williamson (Dave)Rob Mayes (John)Paul Giamatti (Arnie Blondestone) Clancy Brown (Dr. Albert Marconi)
- Cinematographer: Mike Gioulakis
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score: Brian Tyler
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA