Director: Don Coscarelli
MPAA Rating: R
Ever been stone-cold sober while everyone around you is drunk, high or otherwise tripping? They all think they’re so freaking hip, hilarious and clever. You realize after 10 minutes that they’re so not. That’s a little bit what it’s like watching much of John Dies at the End, director Don Coscarelli’s (Bubba Ho-Tep) trippy, splatterific sci-fi horror movie version of David Wong’s fanatically adored but probably unfilmable novel.
Celebrating its low-rent budget, pretzel logic and hyped-up pace by too early announcing itself to be a trippy, instant stoner cult classic, it’s a movie about a pair of boringly sarcastic slackers (Chase Williamson, Rob Mayes) whose exposure to a substance called “Soy Sauce” lets them converse with the day; see yesterday, today and tomorrow; and slaughter ghosts and demons from other worlds. We get all this information through a woozy haze of fractured, highly convoluted tales told at a Chinese restaurant to a journalist (Paul Giamatti, great as always) by Williamson, who is, to put it mildly, on the sauce.
The movie bombards us with madcap vignettes dealing with alternate universes, portals, dimension-hopping, precognition and the like, with helpful talking dogs, space cooties, a monster composed of frozen meat and mechanical creatures thrown in along with the kitchen sink.
There are no rules, no logic, rhyme nor reason and, for a stretch, all the scruffiness, anarchy, wry humor and playfulness are exhilarating and freeing. Then it just becomes an off-putting wank, overstuffed with quirk for the sake of quirk. It’s big fun; then it isn’t.