A THOUSAND DEATHS (2014) – This 22 minute suspense/ horror piece was directed by Adam Zanzie who also adapted the script from the 1899 short story by Jack London. Last Halloween Season I reviewed that short story HERE
Adam Zanzie’s effort immediately improves on London’s original tale by at least giving the characters NAMES. I’m not kidding, by the way. The 1899 short story was Jack London’s first published work and he neglected to provide names for any character except the mad scientist’s dog, Dan.
Zanzie wisely decided not to retitle this Dan the Dog and Company and instead chose to just make up names for the characters. Ford Fanter portrays the main character Jack (nice little homage on the director’s part) and John Bratkowski plays Jack’s sadistically deranged father, Dr Chaney.
Like Stuart Gordon having to reconfigure Tales of Herbert West, Reanimator for modern sensibilities, Zanzie does an excellent job of “scrumblin’ up” (for Marx Brothers fans) most of the original story’s elements to accommodate pacing AND budget considerations.
Doctor Chaney tests his life-restoring process by using his own son as a guinea pig, killing him over and over in various violent ways. After each unpleasant resurrection he pumps his son for clinical details about how he felt as he experienced each horrific end. All in the name of science, of course.
The director gets a performance out of Bratkowski that goes against the grain of the usual megalomaniacal mad scientist and instead presents a figure whose cold, inhuman detachment and callous serenity make you truly loathe him.
Zanzie explores the dynamics of this dysfunctional family in more depth than Jack London did but the budget may have made that a necessity. At any rate the production makes efficient use of its isolated setting and definitely keeps the viewer on edge as Jack (Fanter) plots to strike back against his captors.
Ultimately the story’s ending varies from the original work so there are still surprises in store even for people who have read the London piece. Audiences will no doubt be split on whether or not Zanzie improved on that ending but I think it’s wiser to go for a surprise rather than be slavishly loyal to the source material.
All in all this is a very watchable flick which goes by like the wind. It doesn’t fall into the trap of just throwing gore at the screen but it doesn’t skimp on the body count either.
For those wondering, poor Dan the dog is left out of this film in favor of a cat.
WATCH THIS FILM VERSION OF A THOUSAND DEATHS HERE
FOR MORE MOVIE REVIEWS CLICK HERE
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