Saturday, November 27, 2010

Candidate # 5


(March 2010)

There are certain films that are so singular and potent in their effect that the post-screening haze they leave me in, as I gradually re-adjust to the real world after my first viewing of them, somehow has a different texture from the wake of other movies.
Films like Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre or David Cronenberg’s Videodrome or Gaspar Noe’s Irreversible, films that leave an impact and an imprint, both indelible and quite unforgettable.

Well, I can now add Srdan Spasojevic’s Srpski Film (A Serbian Film) to those ranks.

Here, Milos (Srdan Todorovic), noted star of such stellar titles as Milosh the Filthy Stud, is lured back in front of the camera from his current domestic life by mysterious filmmaker Vukmir Vukmir (Sergej Trifunovic), for a production whose plot and script is a secret.

Needless to say, things go, not just terribly awry, but total gonzo batshit insane, in a film I can perhaps best describe as the ultimate Hot Blood movie; Hot Blood being the successful erotic horror anthology series that has had writers like Grant Morrison as contributors.

Srpski Film
is, quite pointedly, transgressive cinema (yes, some will use the term “perverse”) and there are moments in this film that are nothing short of evil. I’ve made it a point at the Iguana to stress which reviewed films have particularly strong and graphic content; consider my warning regarding Srpski Film the direst I’ve ever given here.

No joke, this one takes the cake.

It’s also got the single most audacious kill I’ve ever seen captured on film; and that’s saying a lot for a film that has a number of atrocious kills during its running time.

If you’ve ever wondered why a porn film is a brainless series of sexual acts, one after another, well, Srpski Film will show you how potentially dangerous porn with a philosophy can be.

(A Serbian Film OS courtesy of

Candidate # 4


(August 2010)

As if Great Britain just couldn’t wait for the next 28 installment, they let themselves in for yet another zombie apocalypse in Mark McQueen’s debut feature, Devil’s Playground.

This time out, the infection stems from the trialists of a new over-the-counter performance boosting drug, RAK 295, courtesy of pharmaceutical company, N-Gen Industries (though the pronunciation appears to be “new gen”).

Among the familiar Brit cinema faces in Devil’s Playground are Danny Dyer (Severance, Doghouse), MyAnna Buring (The Descent, Lesbian Vampire Killers, Red Mist), Colin Salmon (Exam), Sean Pertwee (Dog Soldiers, Wilderness, Equilibrium), and Jaime Murray (Dexter Season 2).

The script by Bart Ruspoli (who also stars as Matt) is the sort that paints the still human as manipulative and lying schemers that are somehow worse than the infected. Either that, or imperfect individuals looking for a second chance, or just doing their best to get by; there aren’t any cut-and-dried heroes in this one.

It’s also an interesting point of the script that RAK 295 is meant to help those who take it cope better with the hectic and fast-paced modern world, and yet turns the trialists into rabid, ravening creatures intent only on preying on others, as if they somehow represent the necessary evolutionary step required to best deal with the 21st-century world; as if life has careened to the point where normal humans just can’t cut it anymore.

There isn’t necessarily anything groundbreakingly new in Devil’s Playground (it’s not a ZFD-- Zombie Film with a Difference), but it is nonetheless an excellent example of a “traditional” infected piece, done well.

And you really gotta love them Parkour zombies. (They’re actually not as daft as that makes them sounds, and they’re certainly more menacing than the ridiculous Spider-zombies in the Day of the Dead redux.)

(Devil’s Playground OS courtesy of

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Issue 2

A quick round of thanx to everyone who dropped by the table at the Komikon last Saturday, for your enthusiasm and support and questions.
Again, the latest issue of Bathala: Apokalypsis can be found online at, so you can check it out there if you weren’t able to drop by the Kon.
And check out Ian Sta. Maria's kick-ass pin-up here.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Candidate # 3

(June 2010)

Six years ago…
NASA discovered the possibility of alien life within our solar system. A space probe was launched to collect samples but broke up during re-entry over Mexico. Soon after new life forms began to appear and half the country was quarantined as an INFECTED ZONE.
The Mexican and US military still struggle to contain ‘the creatures’…

When word first began to circulate about Gareth Edwards’ Monsters, the news seemed to carry the implication that Edwards’ film would have human-sized aliens in it, ala District 9, which was in rotation at the time.
So, though the excellent Monsters trailer had already primed me to expect considerably-bigger-than-human-sized extraterrestrials, I was still enthusiastically surprised to see that Edwards’ effort plays rather like a character-driven indie film, which just happens to have giant, tentacled aliens as part of its backdrop.

It should be noted that not only did Edwards write and direct Monsters (his feature debut, by the way), he’s also the DP and production designer, plus he did the visual effects. Clearly, a huge part of the credit for placing its audience smack dab in the middle of this fantastic, yet still believable setting, falls to Edwards, who has created a SF/horror-tinged vision of a country upon whose doorstep war has been placed by foreigners.
Thus, it shares that aspect with District 9, that there is subtext to be found. But said subtext never crowds out the fact that Monsters is really about the main leads, Andrew and Sam (played by Scoot McNairy and Whitney Able); it’s their lives and their relationship we witness in the midst of the giant monster movie trappings. And it’s to McNairy’s and Able’s credit that their performances keep us interested in the narrative’s goings-on.
So Monsters also has that in common with Matt Reeves’ Cloverfield; that the characters really are at centre stage. In fact, if you take Cloverfield, then scale it towards the character-driven indie film end of the cinematic spectrum, you may begin to get an inkling of what Monsters is all about.
Better yet though, just get out there and see it.

Parting shot: Reviews of District 9 and Cloverfield can be found lurking in the Archive.

(Monsters UK quad and components for custom OS courtesy of

Issue 2

For those of you who missed issue 1…

Previously in


Andrew Carreon
, reporter, is secretly the mighty superhero, Bathala.

Foremost among his many foes, is Bathala’s arch-enemy, brilliant and wealthy Harold Hernandez, who was friends with Andrew years ago, when they were in high school. Of all those who oppose Bathala in the hero’s crusade for justice, Hernandez is the most dangerous and the most relentless.

Unknowingly, as part of a plot hatched by Hernandez, Andrew’s twin brother, environmentalist Leonardo Carreon, has his entire personality digitally mapped and encoded, turned into an UP, an Uploaded Personality; Leo believes this will help him in his lifelong struggle to protect the planet Earth, a noble intention Andrew understands only too well.

However, during the press conference to announce the historical (and recently completed) procedure-- and while Bathala’s attention is diverted by the violence caused by the hero’s dark, twisted clone, ThaBa’al-- Leo is assassinated by a gunman.

Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, a bizarre humanoid creature is killed by lightning, before it can make an attempt to contact Bathala, who it believes has the power to stop a seemingly impending catastrophe.

A catastrophe that could very well be the Biblical Apocalypse.

Now, the convenient synopsis above comes to you by way of the fact that the second issue of Bathala: Apokalypsis is set to be unleashed at the 6th annual Komikon this coming Saturday, November 13, at the Starmall Trade Hall, on the corner of EDSA and Shaw Blvd.

Ace and I will be there, so drop by if you can.

In the meantime, both issues 1 & 2 are online at, so you can also check them out there.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Candidate # 2


(September 2009)

Aussie horror plants a flag for next year’s ¡Qué Horror! rundown with Sean Byrne’s feature debut, The Loved Ones, a film for all those iconoclasts who ever thought that prom was just some antiquated tradition best left by the cultural wayside.
“Prom is Hell”? In The Loved Ones, that truly is the case, as we bear witness to the Worst Prom Date captured on film since Sissy Spacek got all dolled up just to take a shower in pig’s blood.

Writer/director Byrne triumphs on a number of fronts with The Loved Ones, beginning with the fact that he’s able to counterpoint the blood and brutality with genuine emotional pain and mental anguish (and not just from the film’s main protagonist, played by Xavier Samuel).
Also, The Loved Ones isn’t just about the teen-agers. There’s a significant adult presence in the film, as we’re shown the strained dynamic between parents who no longer seem to understand their rebellious offspring, and children who feel a complex welter of emotion towards these estranged dinosaurs who sired and raised them, when the truth is, that both sides are reeling from the same pain.

There’s also a disturbing parent-child relationship here that, unsettling though it admittedly is, is still grounded in a sick and twisted sort of love.

So Byrne not only delivers the shock and the gore, he also populates the narrative with characters with actual thoughts and feelings, as opposed to the one-dimensional sketches we sometimes see in horror films.

All that, while establishing that not all the “weirdoes” and “losers” we know (regardless of age) share the same sort of scars; some could very well be psychopathic, that’s always a possibility, but some will really be just troubled and traumatized individuals, trying to numb the pain the best way they know how…

(The Loved Ones OS courtesy of