Before I dive into my pitch for a sequel to ‘John Dies at the End’, I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge a couple of things: first, despite the headline of this article I know that there’s very little chance that Don Coscarelli and/or Jason Pargin would ever read this. In fact, I have a better shot of finding the Lost Ark or a time-travelling DeLorean than ever catching the ears of one of my favorite filmmakers and one of my favorite authors. The question here is: who am I? A nerdy, enthusiastic fanboy from [UNDISCLOSED] who’s going to sit here and tell them what they should do? Yeah, good luck with that one nerd. That’s a fact that I accepted, but I’m keeping the headline anyway.
Secondly, I am very well aware that there are sequels to the ‘John Dies at the End’ novel. There are currently four books in the series at the time of this writing: ‘John Dies at the End’, ‘This Book is Full of Spiders: Seriously, Dude, Don’t Touch It’, ‘What the Hell Did I Just Read?’, and ‘If This Book Exists, You’re in The Wrong Universe’ from author Jason Pargin (written as David Wong). I know this because I’ve read them, and I love all four of them. I wanted to put out this acknowledgment because what I’m about to suggest is a film sequel that does not adapt the second novel, but instead takes a slight detour, but one that I find necessary – and I think some fans might agree with me. If not, then I owe you a beer, Mon.
And finally, yes, a sequel to the film will be humanity’s last hope. That part is true. You can try to call my bluff on that, but if you want to take that careless and selfish gamble, that’s on you.
My journey with this series began many years ago. One night I was scrolling through Facebook and I came across a post from Magnet Releasing that instantly grabbed my attention: it was a promotional post for an upcoming movie called ‘John Dies at the End’, and the title alone got an instant reaction out of me: my drunk ass laughed hard at the brilliant amount of sarcasm that went into the decision to make that the title. With my interest peaked, I dove deeper and laughed even harder when I read the synopsis which alluded to a special drug named “Soy Sauce”, and two slackers named David and John, who must prevent the end of the world. And the cherry on top was that it was from Don Coscarelli, a filmmaker I was very fond of due to my unhealthy obsession with the ‘Phantasm’ films, and the fact that I grew up with ‘Survival Quest’, even though at the time during my childhood I wasn’t aware of him and his filmography, but still, it’s a movie I’ve always loved.
I was instantly sold, and after discovering that it was based on a novel, I ordered the book to read before the film’s release. I flew through the novel fairly quickly, as I found myself sucked into this world and enjoying every minute with these characters. The thing that really grabbed me though was the writing style itself. Jason Pargin, then writing under the pseudonym David Wong, spoke my language. In fact, to this day my girlfriend tells me that I remind her of David, which I take as a compliment – but she also calls me an asshole, so if the shoe fits…
Anyway, after completing the book, it occurred to me at that very moment that Don Coscarelli was the perfect fit to adapt from this particular writer, and after seeing the film I will jot this down as a fact. Although he’s only done one of Pargin’s novels, I would say that he is to him what Frank Darabont or Mike Flanagan is to Stephen King. I’m sure others can come in and do fine adaptations, but I’d rather see Coscarelli do them. He’s the one who can visually capture the humor, attitude, and wild imagination from Pargin’s books in a way that really brings these stories to life.
The film is a very solid, entertaining, and fairly faithful adaptation of the first book. Naturally, when it comes to adapting books to screen, not everything can fit in. Filmmakers are at the mercy of time in ways that novelists will never experience, and as such much is left out. Still, Coscarelli and crew managed to take the core of the book and deliver a condensed version of the story that tried to stay as accurate to the source as possible, and with that him and his team succeeded and satisfied this fan.
In my opinion, Chase Williamson and Rob Mayes perfectly encapsulated the characters of David and John, nailing the characters from personalities, and right down to body language. I also love Clancy Brown’s performance as Dr. Albert Marconi, a reoccurring character in the books who I will always visualize as the character as I read each novel. Fabianne Therese is also good as Amy as well, but her character in the movie is a combination of two characters from the book (Amy Sullivan and Jennifer Lopez), so as a fan of the novels, I do have a bit of a disconnect from the film version, but I hope that if there is a sequel that she gets to keep the role and is given more of book Amy’s mannerisms and quirks.
This leads me to my entitled, pretentious, and self-important fan-boy thoughts on what SHOULD happen with a sequel to Coscarelli’s film. Instead of jumping into the second novel, I feel like Coscarelli and Pargin should get together and create a narrative for all of the things in the first novel that were omitted from the film, because there’s a lot of great material from the first book that did not make it into the movie that should be told to screen. Sure, the bigger picture of the novel was told in its entirety with the film in regards to Korrok, so the unused elements would have to be restructured a bit to a new narrative. This is why I highly suggest the involvement of Pargin in the screenwriting process: let the author of the novels shape a new story that incorporates the missing pieces so that the complete story is told through the two films.
Begin the sequel with David and John investigating a situation with a Lawyer named Frank Campo, who sees spider-creatures in his car as a way to re-introduce these characters and this world to audiences. From here, we meet Amy’s brother, Jim Sullivan, and maybe remix his story a bit so that he takes on the Justin “Shit-Load” White character where he heads to the Marconi event in Vegas, with lead characters David, John, and Amy in pursuit, along with Jim’s friend Todd, and girlfriend Jennifer. During the event Jim is killed, and Todd and Jennifer are wiped from existence. David awakens six months later with a confused memory of what has transpired since Vegas. David and John are called in by a cop who happens to be John’s uncle for the bizarre death of a local celebrity meteorologist, which leads them to the reappearance of a dog (Molly in the books, Bark-Lee in the movie), and the remnants of Korrok. On top of this, Amy goes missing and David begins to experience a lapse in time while also learning of a body in his shed, and after whatever new conflict that ties these unused sections of the novel is resolved, the sequel ends with the reveal of the body and what it means for these characters going forward. For those who read the first book, you’ll know, but for those that haven’t, I’m trying to not spoil it, so I’ll remain vague.
Bottom line: I want Don Coscarelli and Jason Pargin to collaborate on a script for a sequel that uses all of the things that were omitted in the first adaptation, and I want the cast of the movie to return to the roles, and if these demands are not met, then the fate of the human race hangs in the balance. Do you really want that on your conscience, Don and Jason?
I didn’t think so. Make it happen.
Bizzaro Annie Wilkes