136 of 157 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.
23 of 25 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.
72 of 88 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.
24 of 32 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.
9 of 12 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.
33 of 47 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.
8 of 11 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.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 31, 2012
John Dies at the End is a great book that would seem almost impossible to put to the screen in all its glory, and it this movie proves it. Probably less than half of the book makes it into the film, and some of the key, jaw-dropping reveals are sadly left out.
That being said, the movie is one heck of a good time, and my friends and I were equally grossed out and laughing hysterically throughout the movie. The cast is spot on, and the special effects and makeup was far better than it had any right to be given the film's budget. Director Don Coscarelli deftly channels 30+ years of accumulated movie weirdness to execute David Wong's truncated book-to-movie screenplay flawlessly, so much so that if you're a fan of the book, you sort of end up being a bit disappointed by not being able to see how he would have handled the scenes that didn't make it in.
It'll be interesting to see how the movie fares with people unfamiliar with the book as the story is basically an H.P. Lovecraft novel as told by Kevin Smith's Clerks. It's a staggeringly original mixture that runs the risk of alienating people expecting a more conventional film, but I suspect that if audiences keep an open mind, they're going to walk away with a smile on their faces and weeks worth of quotable lines.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 28, 2014
Wow, okay. So if you enjoy horror movies that aren’t as scary as they are shocking and with some seriously effed up elements to them, then Don Coscarelli’s John Dies at the End is probably a film you should watch. Aside from Paul Giamatti (Sideways), there is probably no one you will recognize in this film. Don’t let that be a deal-breaker, though. This “what the hell did I just watch?” flick warrants at least one viewing in your lifetime.
Critics were mixed on the film adaptation of David Wong’s original novel, but that hasn’t stopped this film from becoming a cult favorite. The plot follows, yes, David Wong (Chase Williamson), as he recounts his story of some seriously messed up events he has experienced to the reporter, Arnie Blondestone (Giamatti).
Wong informs Blondestone that he has psychic powers which were administered to him through some kind of weird drug, which, of course, Blondestone has difficulty believing. That doesn’t stop Wong from taking him - and us - through his past which will change your mind. Oh, and he also tells Blondestone about his most recent dream in details that Wong couldn’t have possibly known. Are you sold yet? Blondestone is.
Shortly after the film begins, we meet Wong’s friend John (Rob Mayes - Jane By Design) - uh oh, we know what happens to him at the end...or do we? If you were quick to write this film off because you thought it contained a spoiler right in its title, don’t. John is perhaps one of the most interesting characters in the film, and he may or may not meet the end that you expect him to meet.
Fabianne Therese is Amy Sullivan (The Trivial Pursuits of Arthur Banks), and she has one fake hand. You may think this is pointless, or it may remind you of David Duchovny’s character from Zoolander, but fear not - it has a purpose. She also has a dog named Bark Lee who goes missing at the beginning of the film but is found shortly thereafter by Wong. Bark Lee may or may not have an even more significant purpose than his owner’s prosthetic hand.
While this film definitely lives in the “my head is spinning after watching that” territory, it isn’t a bad thing. It definitely feels like a B-movie, but a well-crafted B-movie at that. The acting is pretty on-point, and some of the dialogue will make you chuckle. Some scenes are pretty laugh-out-loud funny as well, including one in which a hot dog makes for a perfectly good cell phone - you’ll see.
All in, I’d give this film three stars out of five. Some critics of the film, as mentioned previously weren’t as kind, with Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle writing that Giamatti’s acting was the only thing that saved the film from becoming the “Worst Movie Ever Made,” bringing it up a notch to “One of the Worst of 2013.”
I’d say that A.O. Scott of The New York Times more closely summed up my experience when he wrote that End was “ridiculous,” “preposterous,” and even “sometimes maddening,” but that despite all of that, it was “also kind of a blast.”
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 28, 2012
You can tell from the first half of the movie that Cascarelli poured a lot of love into this venture. The second half was pretty much a mad scramble to wrap up a movie that was very obviously running too long by that point, and the story suffers for it by laying out too much without explanations. The invasion is give such short shrift that it doesn't even materialize as a coherent part of the story. There was essentially no concrete reason to meet Korrok other than "we need to feed you to him now", with no exposition on the slowly-unfolding horror that underscores his introduction in the book.
The whole thing with the white wisps died on the vine in this movie and I really missed the book's version of the C4 delivery. The basic premise of the beginning story of the axe is truncated, so it never gets explained why this story is important. Without that whole branch of the story, Korrok's subtle and extensive evil is never really developed, and so his presence in this movie gets turned into a B-film bogeyman with no gravitas. Such a shame, but as Wong has said, there was no way to make this whole book into a movie without making it 5 hours long. Personally I would have been OK with that, and I think the audience is there for it, same as it was with the book, but the pressures of fitting everything into the Hollywood model ultimately undermined what should have been a much better movie.
Still, despite very low production value, the meat monster at the beginning of the movie was enjoyable enough. The meat looked very plastic but seeing the idea brought to life made it fun enough to watch that I was able to dismiss its prop looks. Other than that, the first half was so enjoyable because of its faithfulness to the book that I recommend it so long as you've had the chance to read the book first. And if you've watched the movie already and liked it, buy the book because it will blow your mind how great the original material is compared to what they were able to get on screen.