Episode 12 - John Dies At The End

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John Dies At The End. No, that's not a spoiler. That's the title. Of a book. Yes, we're completely serious. It's a horror comedy novel featuring things such as a living drug called the Soy Sauce, a priest that can kill a demon over the telephone, a pair of protagonists who make D-Generation X look like serious people, and a hot chick with a missing hand. It's awesome!

The plot revolves around a mysterious drug called the Soy Sauce, a black substance that seems to be alive and confers upon people who ingest it heightened senses (sort of like in Limitless) and an awareness of demonic creatures that are invisible to normal people and are apparently trying to take over the world. A pair of complete losers, the protagonist Dave and his lewd, infantile, irresponsible best friend John, come across this drug after a concert given by John's band. John immediately jumps on the new drug without a second thought while Dave ends up taking the Soy Sauce by accident. From there the pair move from one surreal and hilarious encounter with the mysterious demons to another, ranging from the two getting kidnapped by a demon that calls himself Shitload to Dave's car getting stolen by a cockroach man, gradually getting closer to the main antagonist Korrok, who at first appears to be some kind of demon king but in the end is revealed to be something far more horroristic.

Speaking of horroristic, the novel relies heavily on its mood, often taking a lot of time to create atmosphere through the nigh-incoherent ramblings of Dave who seems to be suffering from ADD and is such an unreliable narrator that the reader might easily begin to suspect the validity of the title (no, we won't tell you whether or not it's a lie). The presentation of the death scenes and the monsters is moderately graphic so the book is certainly not for the squeamish, but the graphic presentation doesn't get even close to the absurd levels found in Peter Jackson's Braindead. John's antics are the primary counterbalance to the horror of the overall situation that the duo find themselves in. Add to this the crazy events that ensue, ranging from a demon being defeated with the aid of an impromptu rock concert to a pair of Scooby Doo toy glasses actually letting one of the characters see the demons, and you find a solid comedy here which blends extremely well with the horroristic setting. Overall it's a great experience for fans of horror and dark comedy alike.

John Dies At The End was originally written as a web series by author David Wong (a.k.a. Jason Pargin, Senior Editor of Cracked.com. Due to overwhelmingly positive fan reaction the story was eventually published as a novel. The story starts in medias res with a short excerpt from the protagonist's journal detailing an encounter with a supernatural being all the way to the unceremonious battle between the aforementioned creature and the would be heroes, the eternal loser Dave and the infantile John. This starting sequence provides a good introduction to the overall plot as well as a very much needed starting bang. After the prologue we get a very lengthy and very slow opening which introduces us to the main characters and tells their back story. While it's well and amusingly written, it gets stale after a while as not much really happens for a very long time. We're not bringing this up to criticize the book however, rather we're mentioning it for the sake of those of you find the opening too long winded and boring; some of you might be tempted to stop reading after the first 50 pages.

Don't.

Just keep reading, it's gonna get really good after a while. Once Dave learns about the Soy Sauce from John the story takes off like a rollercoaster from Hell and doesn't stop until the very end. Trust us, the opening may be slow but the payoff is well worth the wait. Furthermore, it's a good idea to pay attention to the details during the opening, as some of the most unexpected elements of the opening pop up later in a different context (but we will not spoil which).

It is worth mentioning that John Dies At The End has recently been adapted into a movie. It has premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year and features the always excellent Paul Giamatti in the supporting role of Arnie Blondstone, the journalist who interviews Dave during the main narrative of the story. The film is directed by Don Coscarelli, director of Bubba Ho-Tep. All in all it seems like the only thing that's missing is Bruce Campbell. But we do have the Kurgan (and if you don't know who that is, you're probably too young for this website) in the role of retired priest Dr. Albert Marconi, so even without Bruce Campbell the film promises to be great and the trailer suggests that the film is absolutely awesome. We are looking forward to its worldwide release.

John Dies At The End Trailer



In summary, John Dies At The End is an excellent horror comedy novel well worth your time if you're fond of the genre. Just remember, after reading this book you might never look at a bratwurst the same way again.

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