The problem addressing fans of “Midnight” films and wacky horror can succinctly be found in the opening of Don Coscarelli's “John Dies At The End.” It involves axe handles, zombies, mutant leeches, axe heads, hardware store trips and answering a dead man as to whether or not the axe in question is the same that killed him. Confused? If you are, then you don't want to stick around. If you're too overjoyed that the spiritual successor to Sam Raimi has appeared, you're in luck.
It's gross oversimplification to admit this is insanity. In fact, this is the culmination of serial sci-fi shows that reach the wide spectrum of comedy, gore and what can be done with it in the hands of someone like Coscarelli (also known for 1982's cheesy/awesome fantasy flick "The Beastmaster" ). Shows like “Supernatural,” “Reaper” and “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” paved the way for 'John' from multi-dimensional beings like Roger North (Doug Jones), who has come to prepare Dave for the apocalypse but can't seem to remember why; “Shit Load,” the sentient virus that takes over a Justin Bieber look-a-like and wants to open a ghost door using one of the more clever jokes that seems so obvious once it happens.
The oddities don't let up for a second, especially when it starts with a demon made of meat products who tricks John and George into calling their mentor/higher up Dr. Albert Marconi (Clancy Brown), whose every appearance is marked with an orchestral chant. Compared to the duo, he's Charlie, God and the biggest threat to Evil across the entire world—whereas they, he remarks, are the type of people no one would ever expect to be a threat. They aren't, but someone has to "provide protection.” Even the film's outro could be its own movie, as John and Dave ignore an alternate universe being invaded by a similar looking slug from earlier in the film because time moves differently there or something.
There's a lot thrown together here and patched from the three separate stories that made up the original “John Dies At The End” collection. But when dealing with adaptation, the film allows Coscarelli the rare chance to flex his dark sense of humor with the occult characters that are becoming accepted in mainstream storytelling now. The fact that “Doctor Who” has breached American shores and spent an entire season leaping through multiple timelines and stories is proof the audience is waiting. It may be tough to accept, but this is precisely the smart, confusing and engaging story we need to smack us in the face and inject the Sauce into our eyes. [B+]