Sunday, September 10, 2017

Candidate #17

(July 2016)

"This is a serious undertakin'. It's not fuckin’ astral projection or runes. This is real stuff we’re playin’ with.
“Real angels, real demons.”

Writer/director Liam Gavin’s feature debut, A Dark Song, is a vastly impressive piece that sees Sophia (Dark Touch’s Catherine Walker) hire Joseph Solomon (Steve Oram from TV’s Glue and The Living and the Dead) to help her with a heavy-duty occult ritual.
Isolated along with the pair in a house in the Welsh countryside, we watch as they gradually move through the varying stages of the ritual, moving inexorably towards its culmination.

“Science describes the least of things. The least of what something is.
“Religion, magick… bows to the endless in everything. The mystery.”

This isn’t some Dr. Strange fancy-hand-gestures-with-spinning-CGI-sparklers-as-background magic, mind.
This is the exacting, torturous world of ritual magick we’ve stepped into, where tiny and seemingly innocuous signs are meant to be interpreted as supernatural portents of massive weight and undeniable gravity, manifestations of the divine (or the infernal).
A world where everything comes at a steep price.
And Gavin places us right in the middle of this occult crucible, compelled to watch as Sophia suffers the rite’s rigors, as she burns with the righteous flame of her personal desire.

“This is the price of our rage. Embrace it, don’t fear it. It’s you and it’s me.
“Poor us.”

(A Dark Song OS’ courtesy of &

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Candidate #16

(April 2017)

Writer/director Trey Edward Shults' second feature film, It Comes at Night, sets us down in the middle of yet another post-apocalyptic scenario. To the film’s benefit, the narrative doesn’t play out as per your usual post-apocalypse de rigueur.
We don’t witness the catastrophe that triggers the collapse (and specific details are never really offered). All we really know is the unfortunate can become sick, and when that happens, drastic measures need to be taken.
Instead, the story’s focus is Paul (Joel Edgerton, also the film’s Executive Producer) and his family (wife, teen-aged son, and father-in-law’s dog, Stanley) living far away from the city.

Shults tells his story at a very slow and deliberate pace, and some may even wonder if this is actually a “horror movie.”
Since it’s in the running for a ¡Q horror! 2017 slot, it’s safe to assume I believe it qualifies. Because, while the journey is a slow, low-key one, the ultimate destination is a harrowingly brutal gut punch, the horror, the kind that underscores the tragic hollowness of that most banal and grotesque of platitudes uttered in the face of mind-numbing, soul-crushing disaster: “Everything’s gonna be okay.”

(It Comes at Night OS’ courtesy of &

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

So we've gone from Imminent to November 2017.

It's called Silver Like Dust, and we hope to see all you mighty fine folk at the November Komikon to help celebrate Maskarado’s 25th anniversary.

Updates when we've got 'em.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Candidate #15

(January 2017)

"Fairer skin has been in favor for the past, what, couple of hundreds of years? But now the pendulum has swung back.
"Black is in fashion.”

Anyone who’s passingly familiar with my writing or has been to the Iguana more than once would, in all likelihood, have noticed my preference for genre pieces that have something to say.
That’s the kind of genre material I’m deeply interested in, the ones that use the tropes and the conventions and the form as a platform to delve into important, vital matters. The kind of material that says something to its audience about the world they live in.
And if you’ve seen the trailer for Jordan Peele’s feature directorial debut, Get Out (which Peele also wrote the screenplay for), it should be fairly obvious that the film is about race, and its ugly, bigoted offspring, racism.

“Chris, you gotta get the f*ck up outta there, man! You in some Eyes Wide Shut situation. Leave, motherfu--”

The Fades’ and Black Mirror’s Daniel Kaluuya plays Chris Washington, who is being introduced to--and spending the weekend with--his girlfriend’s parents (played by the always marvelous Catherine Keener and a vaguely unrecognizable Bradley Whitford).
And when that happens in a Blumhouse film, you just know things are gonna get ug-leeee…

To say anything more is not really my style here at the Iguana; it would also be a frank disservice to the extraordinary piece Peele and company have brought to the screen.
Suffice it to say that if you, like me, have a taste for horror with a brain, then Get Out.

“I mean, I told you not to go in that house…”

Parting Shot:
For those who know Jordan Peele as half of the comedy sketch duo Key & Peele, note that at the age of 13, he knew he wanted to be a horror film director.
Apparently, the whole comedy thing was a huge detour, but he’s managed to find his way back to the dream.
A few more things to look forward to from Peele:

The 4 other “social thrillers” (his term) that he plans to work on, of which he has this to say: “The best and scariest monsters in the world are human beings and what we are capable of especially when we get together. I’ve been working on these premises about these different social demons, these innately human monsters that are woven into the fabric of how we think and how we interact, and each one of my movies is going to be about a different one of these social demons.”

He’s also teamed up with J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot to adapt Matt Ruff’s Lovecraft Country for HBO (it’s been given a straight-to-series order). has this to say about Lovecraft Country: [Ruff] makes visceral the terrors of life in Jim Crow America and its lingering effects in this brilliant and wondrous work of the imagination that melds historical fiction, pulp noir, and Lovecraftian horror and fantasy.

Yes, please. Some more of that…

(Get Out OS courtesy of

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Yeah. So that's totally a thing.
An imminent thing.

But is it:

A) A collaboration between the mighty fine Reno Maniquis and yours truly

B) A cross-dimensional team-up of Maskarado and Dakila

C) A humbling honor for me as I pitch in to help Reno celebrate Maskarado’s 25th anniversary by telling a story

D) All of the above

It is, of course, all of the above, people!


Updates when we’ve got ‘em.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Candidate #14

(September 2015)

"We've come to the place where we joke about the idea of the Devil. With the horns and the tail and all that. But that is Satan’s Lie. To distract us from the reality of who He is.”

Writer/director Sean Byrne was last ‘round these parts when his feature debut, The Loved Ones, nabbed the Aussie Horror Runner-Up slot on the ¡Q horror! 2011 rundown.
He’s back, with his brutally metal follow-up, The Devil’s Candy.

Here, Byrne takes the “a family’s hopes for a new life are shattered when they encounter the darkness that comes along with the new house they just bought” set-up and serves up a disturbing look at a world where evil is insidiously ubiquitous, where a prominent art gallery is called Belial (as in “Now that you’re being represented by Belial, it’s time for you to start getting used to nice things.”) and has an employee named Mara (as per the Buddhist demon).

Byrne gathers an interestingly effective cast here, which includes Shiri Appleby (who’s come a long way from Roswell’s Liz), Ethan Embry (who’s come an even longer way from Empire Records’ lovable goofus Mark), and the creeptastic Pruitt Taylor Vince.
There are also brief, but memorable appearances by Leland Orser (whose Father David Gideon lays on the film’s central thesis via a “Thought for the Day”) and Tony Amendola (taking a break from playing Once Upon a Time’s Geppetto to embody Leonard of Belial).

So, yeah, let’s all raise those horns and savor The Devil’s Candy, as Sean Byrne continues to show us just how wickedly serious he is about his horror…

“I have to feed Him children… ‘cause children are His candy.”

(The Devil’s Candy OS’ courtesy of

Monday, April 17, 2017

Candidate #13

(September 2016)

"Mommy told me something a little girl should know.
It’s all about the Devil and I’ve learned to hate him so.
She said he causes trouble when you let him in the room.
He will never ever leave you if your heart is filled with gloom.”
--“Open Up Your Heart”

The body of an unidentified young woman found under strange circumstances is brought in to the Tilden Morgue & Crematorium, where father and son Tildens, Tommy (Brian Cox) and Austin (Emile Hirsch) set about to uncover cause of death.
But this is far from a cut and dried post mortem, as the Tildens soon discover…

The Autopsy of Jane Doe is a rousing “Welcome Back!” for director André Øvredal (who was last seen ‘round these parts in the 2011 ¡Q horror! rundown, with Trolljegeren).
This time though, there are no amusing, humorous chuckles to be had. This is dark and disturbing stuff, courtesy of a script by Ian Goldberg and Richard Naing, which is, honestly, a welcome surprise.
Familiar with some of Goldberg’s work on Once Upon a Time and Dead of Summer (for which Naing also wrote an episode), I hadn’t expected him capable of horror of this grimness. I’m glad to be divested of that impression.

So effective is the film that no less than Guillermo del Toro (“A fun, stylish, beautifully built funhouse of horror!”) and Stephen King (“Visceral horror to rival ALIEN and early Cronenberg. Watch it, but not alone.”) have sung its praises.
¡Q horror! can do naught but agree…

“Whatever the hell happened in here… we are way past possible.”

(The Autopsy of Jane Doe OS’ courtesy of &