31 Horror Films 2014 #22 John Dies at the End 2012 Dir. Don Coscarelli

John Dies at the End 2012 Dir. Tobe Hooper

Filmmakers don’t set out to make “cult” films anymore than they set out to make “classics”. John Ford was famously evasive regarding his own work. To hear him tell it, he just did his job. Likewise, I doubt very much if John Carpenter and Kurt Russell had any idea that their collaborations would gain the status that they have. They were just making movies. Cult films are a phenomenon unto themselves. Hollywood has tried to take away the power to make a true cult film in the studio system. However, some films still leak through, and if you adapt a comedy horror novel written by Cracked.com’s David Wong to film, and have the director of Phantasm and Bubba Ho Tep helm the piece on a small budget, you might have an underground movie on your hands.

John Dies at the End is a horror comedy that would be at home next to films like Cronenberg’s The Naked Lunch and Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China. The film unfurls as Dave explains to reporter Arnie Blondestone (Paul Giamatti) the events surrounding a mysterious street drug called “soy sauce”. Dave and his friend John, act as paranormal investigators for the stoner set, and soon find themselves embroiled in an adventure that includes, meat monsters, psychic drug dealers, doorways to other dimensions, and martyr dogs.

John Dies at the End is a collection of strange events leading to an apocalyptically weird resolution, held together by Dave’s interview with a reporter. That’s pretty much it. I should point out though, that this film has more imagination and fun than you see out of many of the slick horror films major studios make. The effects are primarily practical, giving the film a late 80s/early 90s feel. I heartily recommend this movie to fans of strange cinema and have detailed its kin above. If you like funny, strange and honestly entertaining horror films, John Dies at the End is for you.