John Dies at the End is about drugs. Even I know that, and I know as much about drug culture as astrophysics. The name of the drug is the soy sauce, and it gives you all sorts of weird mental and psychic powers. It also messes up your sense of where you are in time, because time isn’t linear, or something like that. Parts of this movie reminded me of the scene in Animal House when they smoke pot.
Our hero is Dave Wong, not John. Dave is not Chinese, but he changed his last name to Wong to make him harder to find. He and his best friend John, who may or may not be dead, are psychic investigators. To the unguarded eye they appear to be a pair of fuck-ups, but appearances can be deceiving.
When the movie starts Dave is telling his story to reporter Arnie Blondestone at a Chinese restaurant. There’s a girl, and her dead boyfriend is stalking her. John and Dave discover the girl looks different to them when they’re in her basement. She dissolves into snakes – not spiders – and all the meats in the basement freezer form the Meat Man, who has a raw chicken for a head. The Meat Man isn’t as impressive as the Sunflower Man of Temple Wood fame, but he’s still quite a sight.
This scene has nothing to do with the rest of the movie. The real story starts when John and Dave graduate from high school and a Jamaican dude named Robert Marley gives John and a bunch of his friends a hit of a drug called the soy sauce. Dave isn’t there, but he runs to John’s place when John calls him in the middle of the night. John’s all fucked up, so Dave takes him to the hospital. Enroute, he’s attacked by a guy who tries to attach a lamprey to his chest.
There’s more. We have a psychic guru, a girl with an amputated hand and a dog that can drive. The soy sauce is actually bugs. Why would anyone be crazy enough to inject bugs? I assume if you have to ask the question, you’re not meant to know the answer.
John Dies at the End is directed by Don Coscarelli, who also directed Phantasm. If you liked Phantasm chances are you’ll like this movie. John Dies at the End has no coherent story, but is full of bizarre imagery and is as much science fiction as horror. A good portion of the climax is spent trying to explain the movie. It doesn’t take. Which is not to say that John Dies at the End is a bad movie. This is a film striving for cult status, and who knows? Maybe it’ll be regarded as a cult classic in twenty years. It’s certainly weird enough.