131 of 151 people found the following review helpful
on December 28, 2012
This movie is losing a star because of how poorly adapted it was. We all know that adaptations are iffy and even hardcore fans of something will accept before viewing that a movie will leave parts out, some of those parts their favorites. But many very important character developments were left out as well as very chilling and mind-blowing elements. The first hour was a wonderful experience, even with the few minor changes. The last half hour was rushed and confusing, jumbling up several sub plots in a very lazy way.
~THERE WILL BE SPOILERS. SPOILERS WILL BE MARKED WITH A STAR~
I'll start out with the PROS:
-Great casting, great acting. Dave and John were portrayed just as they should have been and Chase Williamson's facial expressions and line delivery were especially good. John was just as ridiculous as he should have been and his whole demeanor was very "book John". Doug Jones is one of my favorites and I loved that he was Robert North (changed to "Roger" in the film for some reason). I love Clancy Brown and Paul Giamatti in general but Paul Giamatti was a perfect Arnie. Also, Tai Bennett as Robert Marley was AMAZING. Dude deserves serious props for his delivery of "the speech" to Dave. That guy needs to be cast in EVERYTHING. It's very clear to me that many of the actors read the book and studied their characters carefully. The Justin White, The Shelly and Detective Appleton were all very good too. Overall, the acting in this film was really, really good and I have zero gripes with the talent.
-The special effects were at times a little campy (towards the end of the film, maybe the budget was getting tight) but that didn't take away from the experience. The Meat Monster was NOT campy at all and looked just as ridiculous and frightening as it should have.
-Some great moments and lines were kept in the movie, including the Bratwurst scene and the Korrok trolling scene.
-Some of what has been left out is totally unacceptable and takes AWAY from what most of us love about the story. No shadow people? Not even a mention of them or an appearance? They only orchestrated almost every event that happens. The shadow people are genuinely frightening because of what they can DO. The shadow people, in my opinion, are the whole entire reason Wong's book is so frightening. The shadow people are what I see out of the corner of my eye when it's quiet and dark. This movie left out the most haunting aspect of the story.
-Marconi felt like an afterthought in the movie. He destroys the Meat Monster and then he's gone from the entire movie until the black tube that takes them to the other dimension. He's gone because the entire Vegas scene is completely left out. Shitload is still there but he's poorly combined with another subplot involving the Mall of the Dead, which is combined with another subplot involving Amy.
-Speaking of Amy, this film continues the trend of "cliche, pointless love interest" female character. Amy is just "the girl" in the movie. This is no fault of David Wong. He is very good at writing realistic, in depth, likable characters and especially Amy. Amy is a very well written female character. She is a realistic female with a complicated past and motive. David Wong impressed me so much with how well he wrote this female character. Most women can't even write female characters as well as David Wong. Amy's back story is completely ignored, she is just missing a hand with no explanation. She's combined with the Jennifer Lopez character which I understand and accept but she's also made into a totally different kind of person than she was in the book. Her brother, Big Jim, is omitted as well.
-The character development overall is very, very lacking. The actor's themselves did a great job but for someone who hasn't read the book and doesn't know Dave or Amy's past or doesn't know how alcoholic John is actually an extremely decent and good person, I can see how they'd find it very hard to care about these characters or what happens to them.
-Amy and Dave's relationship is hollow and forced. Again, this is a character development and adaptation issue. Many events that were cut help build the trust and bond between Amy and Dave and when they suddenly end up together in the book, it makes sense. **In the movie, Amy is just some girl with a ghost hand whose dog Dave ends up getting killed and she's suddenly into him.**
-**So, the dog's name and gender is changed. Not a deal breaker for me but considering how they end the movie, I don't see how it's even possible to make a sequel. Molly/Bark Lee is central to almost every event that was left out of the book and EXTREMELY central to the actual book sequel, This Book Is Full of Spiders.**
-In the movie's world, there is no reason why the people of Shit Narnia should worship John and Dave as heroes. All of the events that take place that make them heroic and admired are completely omitted. Anyone who hasn't read the book will be thrown off completely as to why the people of Shit Narnia love John and Dave so much.
-Korrok was kind of weak as an ending villain. Combined with the lack of shadow people and the cutting out of huge events (including Amy's chatlog), Korrok was not menacing and his immense power was barely portrayed. **The danger of his people in Shit Narnia crossing over to "Dead World" was not obvious, so why should we care if John and Dave blow him up?**
-NO monster-Dave?! Really?! I'm happy the Arnie Blondestone twist was kept but the biggest twist of the story is completely left out?!
The movie's version of the story is fine on it's own, nothing special, but entertaining and interesting. A few plot holes since the subplots were so shoddily thrown together. David Wong's story is amazing, blow-your-mind awesome, plot twists you can't even imagine and horrifying situations you will wish you couldn't imagine. It is genuinely frightening, heart warming, supernatural and hilarious all at once. I feel like Don Coscarelli just took all of the silly elements from the book and skipped all of the existential crises and back story that makes you love the characters and root for them. I think this would have been better as several movies with just the Vegas and Shitload story as the first movie. They tried to jam way too much into one film and even if there was uncertainty about there ever being the funds to make a sequel, the story would have been done more justice with just the Vegas plot as the movie.
Don Coscarelli will have my forgiveness if there is a director's cut of this movie with tons of scenes cut out that have shadow people, Monster-Dave and backstory included. I know there are limitations on lower-budget films but character development should not have been sacrificed just so the entire book could be jammed into one package. As a hardcore fan of the book and it's sequel, I'm very, very let down.
HOWEVER, if you're a fan of David Wong and you want the possibility of a miniseries or reboot, I suggest seeing this movie anyways. Rent it online, see it in theaters, buy the DVD. PAY for it, don't pirate it. Let's show our support for David Wong as fans, so that we can reap the benefits of more work from him. The fact that his book went from short story online, to full novel, to published on a small scale, to published on a large scale, to MOVIE is pretty amazing in general. I think we should all do our part to help him reap the benefits of this, even if Don Coscarelli kind of butchered his story.
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
"John Dies at the End" is based on the novel by David Wong (a pseudonym for author Jason Pargin). It's director Don Coscarelli's ("Phantasm," "Bubba Ho-Tep") first feature film in ten years. The horror comedy did make the rounds at certain film festivals in 2012, but is getting a limited theatrical run in certain markets in 2013 and is already available on demand. If you've never read Wong's novel, you don't really know what you're getting yourself into. Reception thus far has been mostly negative labeling the film as incredibly bizarre without much of a payoff, but that isn't entirely accurate. Speaking as someone who's a stickler for solid writing in cinema, this is a rare instance where a film can still be pretty enjoyable without everything making sense.
Dave (Chase Williamson) is sitting in a dimly lit Chinese restaurant telling his unbelievable story to a reporter named Arnie (Paul Giamatti) and it's a doozy. After Dave is able to analyze everything about the change in Arnie's pocket without seeing it and knowing every detail of the dream Arnie had the night before without Arnie even bringing it up, Arnie is eventually able to come to the realization that this is no normal story. When Dave was still in high school, his friend John (Rob Mayes) was in a band. At a party that John's band was playing at, Dave met a Jamaican guy named Robert Marley (Tai Bennett) who not only knew everything about Dave but seemed to know every detail about everything before it happened. That is how Dave and John were introduced to a drug known as "soy sauce," a black liquid which "opens their minds to s*** they've never seen before;" those are the words of Robert Marley. Overloaded with heightened senses, Dave and John are now able to communicate and interact with creatures that aren't from this world but have bigger problems to worry about like how to defeat a monster made of refrigerated meats or figuring out how to throw a headstrong detective (Glynn Turman) off their trail. Arnie has the story of the century on his hands as Dave's story proves to be a prime example of truth being stranger than fiction.
The erratic atmosphere and disorganized sense of humor makes itself apparent right from the very first frame with Dave's story about whether an axe is still the same axe if its had its head and handle replaced while killing a skinhead. Its messy pace takes some getting used to. The beginning of Dave's story where he and John try to help a girl named Shelly (Allison Weissman) deal with an abusive boyfriend that died two months prior is bizarre. Not only because of the subject content, but also because the chemistry between actors Chase Williamson and Rob Mayes and their desire to help those who've had problems with the paranormal is eerily similar to Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki as Sam and Dean Winchester on "Supernatural." As soon as you think that though, the film seems to steer in a completely different direction as Shelly explodes into snakes, a doorknob turns into male genitalia, and that refrigerated meat manifestation appears.
That's about when all of these recognizable faces start appearing; Clancy Brown as TV psychic Albert Marconi who's a lot like John Edward except Marconi actually knows what he's talking about, Angus Scrimm in a small role as a priest, and Doug Jones portraying a man from another dimension named Ryan North. You'll actually be left wanting more of Arnie (Giamatti) and Ryan North (Jones). Paul Giamatti is still able to steal the spotlight even though he's only a supporting actor here. His line delivery is just the perfect amount of over the top disbelief when Dave shows Arnie what he has in his car and Arnie's line about Atlantic City is laugh out loud funny. The film is literally overflowing with sarcasm. There's so much of it that you feel like you may have missed some of its wit in just one viewing. When you're not laughing about how ridiculous the film is its humor is sure to circle back around to make sure you laugh at least once during the film's 90 minute duration.
After you settle into the film's use of controlled insanity (it's like trying to throw a saddle on a tornado before attempting to ride it), you get used to its crazy pace and begin to enjoy it. The film is particularly pretty awesome until Dave and John go to another dimension and meet Korak, then it's just bat s*** insanity. The horror comedy gets even weirder than you'd come to expect from the first hour. Nothing about the film is predictable, so there is that to fall back on. But people who don't already hate the film will really hate it by the time the last twenty or so minutes come around.
"John Dies at the End" is really freaking weird. It's along the lines of Quentin Dupieux's "Rubber," but really pushes the boundaries of absurdity. With its flying moustaches, severed limbs with a mind of their own, having conversations with bratwursts, and a dog driving a truck through a house that's on fire, it's safe to say that "John Dies at the End" will go well over many heads and won't be appreciated and that's fine. Just remember that you don't choose the soy sauce. The soy sauce chooses you.
70 of 85 people found the following review helpful
on December 27, 2012
I'll begin by admitting that I'm an unapologetic David Wong fan-boy; I own both the JDatE novel and the sequel in hardcover, and I've been following the progress of this film since day one of the announcement. The release of the film has been on my mind for months, and I watched this tonight with my heart in my throat.
Is it as good as the book? No.
It's also not as long. And it's in a completely different medium. And there is absolutely no way on earth that the film could EVER have looked and sounded exactly the way that I imagined it. The film is quite altered from the text in some places, and yet beat-for-beat in others ... and sometimes, the changes were jarring. Many of my favorite lines and scenes from the book didn't make the cut, and some of the changes were inexplicable to me.
But for fans of Wong's writing, this a damn good adaptation: created by people who truly love the source material ... even if, in some instances, it seems like they don't truly "get" it, at least in the same way that I do. That's not much of a complaint; I suppose that it's "praise by faint damning" - my issues with the film are, given the circumstances, a wash.
I only wish that this amazing novel could have received the full 10-hour "Game of Thrones" HBO miniseries treatment. Since that simply wasn't going to happen, I accept that this fun little flick is a faithful beginner's guide to the weird writing of David Wong.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on January 22, 2013
No, it's not the book (which you will also enjoy), and maybe it's not for everyone. But if you like 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' & 'Evil Dead II' —I can pretty much guarantee you will love this movie as much as I do. It's the same director who did 'Bubba Ho-tep'.
How can you not enjoy a movie that not only has a meat monster, but also a killer mustache, a guy talking on a bratwurst, alternative universes, and a heroic dog?
I say give it a go. I don't think you'll be sorry you did. Bonus: this is good on weed.
23 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on December 28, 2012
As a fan of the books, I applaud Chase Williamson and Rob Mayes for nailing my interpretation of the characters spot on. I would have actually enjoyed seeing them play out some of the more outstanding and righteously entertaining scenes from the book though. I'm a little disappointed at how mangled the adaption is, but in and of itself I think it holds its own. It needed more time and a bigger budget to really have the same weight and presence as the book, but then again I'm not sure anything really could have portrayed this modern-day masterpiece on film and still do it all due justice.
Overall though, I'd just as soon go read the book again rather than rewatch this. It isn't awful by a long shot, but neither is it as fantastic as some of the other reviews are raving. It's a decent B horror flick. The movie is too rushed and the omission, renaming and mishmashing of characters from the book reaaaaaally takes away from it over all. I can't really believe that more people aren't disappointed by this. The book explores some incredible concepts and propositions to think about that are only briefly alluded to in the film. This caused several comments to have sketchy context and created a sense of things not being tidied up and settled by the credits.
tl;dr: Book was fantastic. GO BUY IT AND READ IT RIGHT NOW SO YOU'LL BE READY WHEN THEY SHOW UP. Movie not so much, but still entertaining. Don't watch it expecting a technicolor, holographic psycho disco-haunted house or anything else equally absurd. Watch it with the understanding that it's a compressed and distorted version of the book that still offers laughs but maybe not so many shivers.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on December 27, 2012
It's disappointing that most of the more involving themes having to do with death and existential dread were cut in the adaptation, along with Amy as a character and most of the more shocking and involving plot elements, though this DEFINITELY isn't a horrible disgraceful disrespectful piece of trash- it's well-acted and characters are pretty much true to the novel (though Dave is less messed up and depressive and Amy is stripped clean of personality and given about two minutes of screentime).
It just could have been better. John Dies at the End the novel is bizarre and rambling and both genuinely laugh-out-loud funny and deeply unsettling, with a main character who is at times pathetic and genuinely disturbed. It's hilarious and has well-intentioned characters who love each other and try hard but are up against a cruel, random, and truly horrible universe (universes, rather, haha) full of limitless weirdness and suffering and grotesqueries.
The movie gouges out a ton of plot and glosses over all of that. It's still fun but it's more of a weird rambling drug trip of a movie than the really special experience the book was for me. I enjoyed the book because parts of it needled their way to my core in a way most media (even quality horror media I consume) just doesn't do and the way this film just doesn't do. I may sound like a whiny nitpicking novel devotee, but I have the feeling that if I didn't love the book I'd like the movie even less. I think if I hadn't read it then I would have had trouble keeping up with the plot and wouldn't have enjoyed John and Dave as portrayed as much as I did.
It was worth $10 to me because I'm a huge fan of the novel and a fan of offbeat film and the work of Coscarelli. I'm disappointed but not angry. It just could have been better. Will definitely watch again and hope I can make it to a screening with Wong, Coscarelli, or others present one day.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 8, 2013
This movie is not for everyone. For those genre fans who can find enjoyment in movies like Buckaroo Banzai, Big Trouble in Little China, Bubba Hotep or Army of Darkness I would say check it out. The first half of the movie is better than the last half and some may feel the ending a little rushed which Ill agree with. Theres also a few gags where you will roll your eyes and think "was that really necessary?" Most complaints Ive heard concern what was changed from the book. The book will always be there to read for diehard fans, but for those new to John Dies at the End and wondering what the hell its all about the movie is a great introduction. Will be buying this when its available but will only recommend this to a certain type of person- those that realize that movies can be, and should be fun.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 11, 2013
John Dies at the End.
From the first teaser trailer of this one (which I may have seen two years ago) I knew it was love. One of the major failures of modern culture is that few out there know who Don Coscarelli is, much less his contributions to cult cinema.
Coscarelli is the guy who gave us probably one of the greatest indie horror film franchises ever: Phantasm. As strange as it was exciting, the Phantasm series was anything but tedious: A young boy grows into a man, tortured over the course of his life by a seemingly immortal being from another dimension which recycles the dead into slaves and seeks dominion in our world. Yeah, I know — too much awesome, right? That’s not counting the flying silver spheres, yellow blood and Reggie Bannister with a four-barrel shotgun. Astounding, I know.
Well now Coscarelli has combined forces with David Wong (or rather, Jason Pargin) to bring his absurdist novel John Dies at the End to cinematic life. Needless to say, but Pargin knew who the go-to-guy was.
John Dies at the End is the story of the fictional David Wong (as portrayed by the wonderfully snarky Chase Williamson) and his best bud, John (yes, that John) Cheese (Rob Mayes), and their encounter with “soy sauce”, a sentient substance which, masquerading as a drug, enables the “user” with the ability to percieve things beyond the usual limits of space and time. Multi-dimensional hilarity ensues.
I admit, I haven’t read the book (soon to be remedied, I assure you), but the movie rings of Coscarelli’s classic films. It hits the ground running, and doesn’t let up until the very end. The leads are spot-on, and with the help of a supporting cast that includes Doug Jones and the awesome Clancy Brown (who I know as Rawhide from Buckaroo Banzai and my nephews know as the voice of Mr. Krabs from Spongebob Squarepants), things so swimmingly well.
This is the strength of a film like JDatE. Like the Phantasm films, this is a ride, a fast-moving car that flies along without little or no explanation of what exactly has transpired. This is where I’m sure a number of folks will balk at the particulars, but I for one simply enjoy myself with films like these. This sort of film takes a certain kind of daring, and a really good sense of humor. Luckily for us, Coscarelli has both.
If none of the above appeals to you -- it’s one of those awful “cult films”, folks. Don’t bother unless you'll enjoy the ride.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 2, 2013
People will complain that parts are left out. It happens with every single book -> film translation, but that should not stop you from seeing this film.
Don Coscarelli (Phantasm, Bubba Ho-Tep) has put together a film that's not only a love-letter to David Wong's incredible novel, it's the absolute best version of this story we could possibly get. If you've read this book, looking at everything objectively, there is just no way a big time studio would ever touch this (not even with John's 10-foot-pole). The story is a completely wacky, out there, concept that throws hooks and loops into everything that's going on throughout. The book isn't a national phenomena that's breaking records and it's most certainly not a household name (yet), so based on these facts, I can't see this film being made by anybody BUT an independent.
Yes, things are missings. Yes, the film is a bit jumbled up but the entire story is a sort-of dream logic encrusted capsule that goes down with a bit of trouble anyhow. So, everything the film does *works* within the confines of the story and universe and for that, I applaud the hell out of both Coscarelli for making it happen for Paul Giamatti for recognizing how great of a story this is.
Our two leads are perfect in their roles, the supporting cast does a great job filling in the pieces that they are assigned and the effects...GLORIOUS. It's got such a wonderful B-Movie/Indie Film atmosphere and when you see Meat-Man(in-suit) you will laugh with delight. It's fantastic.
There's a million things to say about this film, story, author, director and all the actors but the bottom line is this:
If you're reading this, know that we ALL want that pie-in-the-sky version that includes every little aspect of David Wongs story, but you have to realize that it will just NEVER happen. This is a *great* adaptation and Don Coscarelli has, once again, knocked it out of the park. It's fun, silly, a little gory but NEVER boring.
More than anything, watch this movie, buy this movie so that indie films like this can continue to be made and if enough people's voices are heard...maybe we'll get the pie-in-the-sky version of the next John and Dave story. That film will be FULL of spiders.
32 of 46 people found the following review helpful
on December 28, 2012
I waited years for this movie. Six years. I talked about it so much to the people around me I think I made them hate their lives and anything to do with JDatE. Finally it was released and I was able to watch it (for $10 to RENT it! Holy crap).
This thing is a nightmare. If you like the characters from the book, don't watch it. If you like the plot from the book, don't watch it. If you've never even read the book and just want to watch a good movie, go watch something else. If I had never heard of this movie and just came across it on Netflix, I would make fun of it. I would MST3K this movie.
Amy's character gets mashed in with Jennifer Lopez's character and she appears in one of the very first scenes. Despite this fact, she has about 5 lines in the entire movie. And they aren't very worthwhile. Despite the fact that her character is a block of wood, Dave and Amy end up together and we're supposed to be happy about this. I don't know why. Also for some reason Amy has a prosthetic, which I could accept, but it's not even a GOOD prosthetic. It looks like she stole it off a mannequin.
Las Vegas doesn't happen. It just doesn't. The second biggest story arch from the book just doesn't exist.
Actually I would say about 50% or more of the original book is completely omitted.
Aside from that, the special effects are AWFUL and cringeworthy. The fight scene is cheesy. The main villain, Korrok, is pretty underwhelming as he's only mentioned one time and then defeated with no effort at all. The entire plot of the book, shadow people and copies of people and Monster Dave just doesn't exist here.
I mean I really could go on and on and on about this. This movie wasn't just "not good". It was horrible.
But I think the worst part is how many good reviews it's getting. I think people just don't want to admit they waited this long and got so excited over this movie and it's a piece of crap.