John Dies Full of Spiders

Squirmy WreathWhile my wife was away one recent week, I started watching all the scary movies that she doesn’t like to see. I gave up on Tucker & Dale vs. Evil. It just didn’t grab me like I’d hoped.
I almost gave up on The Cabin In The Woods just before it became Joss-like. But then it was OK. I mean, the ending was really worth it.

What stuck with me, though, was John Dies At The End. First of all, it’s from the director that did the Phantasm series of films. And he also did Bubba Ho-Tep, which is all kinds of awesome. So I came aboard with expectations. And somewhere I’d heard about it being “mind-blowing”.

It was so awesome, I watched it twice. The story is all-over-the-place, but in a good way. The main characters are portrayed so well. This movie is a gem.

Somewhere I’d read that Coscarelli needed more money to make the ending that he really wanted. But I couldn’t see what could possibly be missing. It all worked for me. So I started getting curious. Since the movie was based on the book, what was in the book that didn’t make it into the movie?

So the book, John Dies at the End, is also all kinds of crazy wonderful. It’s written by this guy named David Wong. It’s about this guy named David Wong. And his friend John Cheese. I won’t spoil the ending for you.

The movie really does a fine job of representing the contents of the book. The book is full of like 5 main vignettes, and the movie has like 3 of them. But the beginning 7/8’s of one vignette is spliced onto the ending 6/7’s of another one. So you’re really getting most of the book. Just missing a few of the characters. And a couple of set-pieces that would have required some serious CGI.

So the movie really pulls off the whole book. And the book, as books are wont, is really so much more than any movie could ever be. They’re both so great. It’s really nice to see these things come together.

And while the book is not the highest literary achievement of the decade, it’s pretty well written. There’s lots of good stuff in it. It feels smart, but in a good way.

And it has a recent sequel called: This Book Is Full of Spiders: Seriously, Dude, Don’t Touch It. Which is also a swell read. The first book has a humorous tone throughout, even during the spooky bits. The middle 2/5’s of the second book has a lot less humor, from what I can tell. It seems pretty dismal there for a while, but in a really entertaining way. And then at the end it all comes together and is both smart and funny again.

The Spiders book seems to be a metaphor for America some dozen years after 9/11. Which makes me wonder if John Dies is about the immediate effects of 9/11. And I can see it. And I don’t think that it’s too much of a stretch. But I don’t think it’s important to enjoying or even understanding the books.

I really don’t see how they can make the 2nd book into a movie. But I bet people said that about the first one, till Coscarelli got involved. So I can’t wait till Bubba Nosferatu is finished, so they can start making the Spiders film.

About Lyle Verbilion

I'm just wanderin' around lookin' at things. Wow.
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