“The name grabbed me instantly, but when I read the log line about a street drug called ‘soy sauce’ and a pair of mid-west slackers battling a silent otherworldly invasion, I was hooked. Since my youth I’ve had a rabid interest in the sci-fi, horror and fantasy genres. Many of my previous films have explored the surreal and strange. What I love about JOHN DIES AT THE END is that in addition to being hide-under-the-bed scary, it’s also laugh-out-loud funny.”–Don Coscarelli, director’s statement
DIRECTED BY: Don Coscarelli
PLOT: A college dropout named David Wong tells a story to a journalist at a Chinese restaurant while under the influence of a drug called “soy sauce.” He reveals that the sauce has given him and his friend John psychic powers that enable them to see inter-dimensional intruders who are bent on conquering our reality. He then relates the story of how, together with his one-handed girlfriend and her dog, he and John traveled to the alternate dimension to thwart the invasion.
- John Dies at the End was adapted from a comic novel of the same name. The name of the story’s protagonist and the author are both “David Wong,” which is actually a pseudonym for Jason Pargin. “John Dies” began life as a short story posted on Pargin’s blog.
- Don Coscarelli had been working on a sequel to his previous feature, Bubba Ho-Tep (2002), with Paul Giamatti, but funding fell through. Giamatti supported the idea of adapting John Dies at the End instead, and served as executive producer on the substitute project.
- Coscarelli credits Amazon’s recommendation algorithm with suggesting the novel “John Dies to the End” to him.
- The movie’s prologue is a modern zombie-based variation on an ancient philosophical paradox called “the ship of Theseus” (in the book, the prologue refers to an ending that is not explicitly present in the movie).
INDELIBLE IMAGE: We can’t actually mention the movie’s most memorable image here, both thanks to the fact that it’s obscene, and that doing so would spoil what may be the movie’s best joke. Those who’ve seen the film already, however, will doubtlessly remember the door that “cannot be opened.”
WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: Jason Pargin wrote a sprawling comedy novel in part about two party-hearty college dropouts who take a mysterious drug nicknamed “soy sauce” that makes them clairvoyant, enabling them to perceive an invasion by demonic forces from another dimension. Don Coscarelli, the writer/director of Bubba Ho-Tep and the Phantasm series, took note of this literary property and decided to adapt it, chopping up the timeline and adding hallucinatory demonic visuals until the result plays out like a bad trip brought on by shooting up way too much of an experimental psychedelic drug.
Original trailer for John Dies at the End
COMMENTS: Here’s an unexpected spoiler for you: John doesn’t die at the end of John Dies at the End. At least, I don’t think he does. But it may Continue reading 150. JOHN DIES AT THE END (2012)