*. OK, the idea here is that instead of taking us through the alphabet from A to Z the producers sent out a cattle call for people to send in short (3-minute) films riffing on the letter M. They got over 500 entries and these are the top 26. So it’s not really ABCs of Death 3, but in most ways it is since the alphabet was only the loosest of structures, frivolously adhered to, in the first place.
*. On the other hand, the .5 gives you some indication that this is a collection of shorts that weren’t quite ready for prime time. These are the B-sides, the ones that didn’t make the final cut. At least that’s the way it was widely received, and I think on the evidence fairly.
*. Here’s the line-up.
*. Magnetic Tape: an ’80s flashback, with a video store clerk turning into a VHS Toxic Avenger who pulls a bunch of Mortal Kombat moves on some bad guys who want to take over his store. Loopy gore, and it gets things off to a decent start.
*. Maieusiophobia: bet that’s a word you didn’t know. It means fear of childbirth. Claymation body horror, but doesn’t have much to say, even with the twist ending.
*. Mailbox: just a gag, with the significance of the title only being revealed in the final shot. I know some people don’t like the way this ABCs leads off with the title of the piece, instead of using it at the end as a kind of punchline (as is done in The ABCs of Death and ABCs of Death 2). I see where this is coming from, but the story here plays the other way. You spend most of it wondering what the hell it has to do with a mailbox until the reveal at the end.
*. Make Believe: a couple of little girls discover a dying man in the forest and their fairy dust does nothing to improve his condition.
*. Malnutrition: ironic zombie vignette. At least it looks professionally done.
*. Manure: decent little sketch with a downtrodden farm boy building a shit golem. Actually one of the better entries.
*. Marauder: Mad Max on tricycles. But not as much fun as that may sound.
*. Mariachi: a death metal band lives up to its name when a Mexican trio crashes their show. Robert Rodriguez made a lot more out of just as little. This one’s not even interesting.
*. Marriage: some counselling employing Dr. Ragland’s psychoplasmics therapy comes to a messy end. Might have been interesting but it’s just too short to amount to much.
*. Martyr: I thought this one might actually have had a point to it, but I’m not sure what it was. There’s an obvious connection to various folk-horror motifs in the man being serially sacrificed so that the villagers may “live forever,” but we’re left hanging.
*. Matador: crude and predictable.
*. Meat: another take on the horror trope of “are you eating it, or is it eating you?” An interesting look, with bonus points for throwing in Beethoven’s Seventh (a piece of music that gets around). As with a lot of these vignettes though it seems incomplete.
*. Mermaid: just seemed like a dumb joke. Or fish story. And one that’s not well delivered.
*. Merry Christmas: Krampus is feeling depressed. Terrible.
*. Mess: a man who shits through his navel finally finds a lover who appreciates him for his special qualities, so he kills himself. Hm. Not well done.
*. Messiah: a human sacrifice goes awry. Another worthless one. About this time I was feeling ready to give up.
*. Mind Meld: a guy being controlled by another guy in the next room is forced to mutilate and kill himself. Just an excuse to show a collection of gore effects, which are nothing special.
*. Miracle: at last a good one. I guess the Miracle Box contains both dreams and nightmares. Creepy and effective.
*. Mobile: another simple gag playing on the disjunction between childhood innocence and evil (the theme of several episodes). Hardly worth bothering with.
*. Mom: another good-looking zombie short. Not all that engaging though, as it’s pretty clear where things are going.
*. Moonstruck: animation by way of paper cut-outs. Crude, but it looks interesting and works surprisingly well. One of the better entries.
*. Mormon Missionaries: a gag. The gag shorts are among the weakest here. Three minutes seems too long to wait for a lame punchline.
*. Mother: some decent CGI of a giant spider. But . . . is that all there is?
*. Muff: yet another gag, but this time I thought it worked. Well done and grimly obscene in a way that’s more typical of the shorts in the other ABCs movies.
*. Munging: according to the Urban Dictionary, which is one’s only recourse in such situations, “munging” refers to going down on a corpse while one’s (living) partner pushes on the corpse’s abdomen, expelling embalming fluid (among other things) into the necrophiliac’s mouth and face. The film here is a very literal depiction of this. Gross-out humour. Or if not humour, just gross.
*. Mutant: might as well end with another take on the apocalypse, this one brought about by bat-like alien creatures that burst out of people’s faces. Silly and chaotic.
*. In sum, it’s not as good as the first two, at least as far as I remember them, and that wasn’t a high bar to clear. A few decent entries (my favourites would be Manure, Miracle, and Moonstruck) with the rest displaying very little in the way of thought, or art. At best a diversion.