t is for toilet

2012’s The ABCs of Death is a horror anthology featuring one short per letter of the alphabet, and while it was overshadowed by V/H/S it still managed to earn a sequel due next year. Like the first film, the follow-up will feature twenty-five shorts from professional filmmakers and one winner selected based on votes from viewers and a panel of judges. We’ve been highlighting several of the shorts in competition over the past two weeks, but they were only a small sampling of the 541 submitted entries.

The top twelve finalists will be announced today over at the official ABCs of Death 2 site, but since my tastes seem to differ from many of the folks who’ve been voting I wanted to show some love to the ones that I think are not only some of the best submissions but also better than far too many of the so-called professional shorts featured in the first film.

The assignment this year was to pick a word beginning with the letter ‘M’ and make a short film connecting it somehow to death. Entries can be scary, gross, or funny, and they can be live action or animated in some fashion. Last year’s winning entry, “T is for Toilet,” was made via claymation. It’s not easy telling a story in roughly three minutes, but the best ones manage to do so while providing interesting and engaging visuals along with it.

Keep reading to watch what I think are probably the five best shorts submitted for the ABCs of Death 2‘s coveted 26th spot. (I say “probably” because I only made it through less than half of the 541 entries so far.)

M is for MARAUDER

Writer/director/editor/cameraman/caterer Steve Daniels pays homage to ’50s biker films and Mad Max in equal measure delivering both action and laughs along the way. It’s legitimately exciting too, and the fact that they’re all riding Big Wheels never dilutes that fact.

M is for MIDDLE

If you’ve seen the first ABCs of Death then you know that while many of the shorts were less than good some of the worst offenders came from Japan. “F is for Fart” anyone? This entry from Soichi Umezawa puts them all to shame by combining some incredibly creative visuals with a legitimate story. Of course there’s a giant dick or two as well, but at least it’s being put to better use here than in the first film’s “Z is for Zetsumetsu.”

M is for MOONSTRUCK

This short probably has the most detailed story of any of these selections, and the fact that Travis Betz is able to tell it through paper cutouts is fantastically impressive. It also manages a rarity in short films, especially three minute ones, in that it strikes an emotional chord too.

M is for MARBLE

As Scott pointed out last week, this Rube Goldberg-esque short features some smart interactions and sharp camerawork as the comedic tension ramps up through to the bloody end. Director Zac Blair shows a fine attention to crafting a detailed setup and worthwhile payoff.

M is for MUFF

There’s death to be found in Mia’Kate Russel‘s short from down under, but the journey is filled with well-placed foreshadowing, beautiful shots, and some very funny moments on its way to a fairly unexpected conclusion. The photo in the guy’s wallet is priceless.

Those are my top five, but were I compiling a top twelve the following entries would also be included.

Magnetic Tape, Mailbox, Meat, Messiah, Microwaves, Mom, Multiverse Apathy

Head on over to the official site to see the official top twelve (due to be announced sometime today) and then maybe watch a few hundred entries. The winner will be announced on December 15th, 2013.


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