Sunday, November 20, 2011

Auxiliary List
[3 of 4]

For this batch, I present a real documentary, and the hands-down, best vampire film I saw in the past year…

(April 2009)

With all the excellent faux docs making the ¡Qué Horror! grade, I thought it only fair (and well-deserved) that Joshua Zeman and Barbara Brancaccio’s honest-to-goodness real documentary--which examines the line where urban legend crosses over into real life--be given a mention here.

(August 2009)

It’s been awhile since I’ve seen a vampire film as atypical as Strigoi.* Written, edited, and directed by Faye Jackson, it’s also hands down the best and most substantial vampire film I’ve seen in the past 12 months.
Strigoi is an insightful title that’s about tradition and history and folklore and family and corruption. It’s about the poor, the rich, and the opportunistic.
And yes, it’s about the different kinds of vampires, even the ones that don’t subsist on blood.
This is the sort of vampire film that will keep the form alive and vital and meaningful despite all that Twilight blather that’s currently cluttering up the mythos.
Big plus to Jackson for excellent usage of Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky” and Beirut’s “Postcards from Italy.”

* It’s been years and years since atypical titles like The Hunger or Vampire’s Kiss or Nadja or Shadow of the Vampire, so Faye Jackson’s moving and bittersweetly humorous take in Strigoi is most welcome.

(Cropsey OS courtesy of; Strigoi DVD cover art courtesy of

Friday, November 11, 2011

Ecomic Release

It’s official: Bathala: Apokalypsis is now available in ecomic format for the Kindle as well as for its computer/iPad/Android device-compatible app.
The first 2 issues are available here and here, and should be available on the iTunes iBookstore in about two weeks’ time.
And if you pick the issues up and should they meet with your approval, please review them on Amazon and tell your friends about them, online or in real life.
Help spread the word.

You can also check on the availability of the ecomic format issues here and here.

(Bathala artwork by Ian Sta. Maria.)
Auxiliary List
[2 of 4]

For this batch, I present some thrillers…

RED RIDING (1974; 1980; 1983)
(February 2009)

In the vein of Bong Joon-ho’s Salinui Chueok (Memories of Murder) and David Fincher’s Zodiac, superb films both, the Red Riding Trilogy--adapted from David Peace’s Red Riding Quartet* by Tony Grisoni (who’s also worked on the screenplays of Terry Gilliam’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Tideland, as well as Keith Fulton's Brothers of the Head)--chronicles the investigations of the Yorkshire Ripper murders in the forensic Dark Ages when the initials CSI still meant nothing in particular to the majority of the public.
Like Bong and Fincher’s films, Red Riding is also especially interested in the impact the killer’s crimes have on those orbiting them, like the journalists and the investigators. And dead centre of Red Riding’s spotlight is how vice and corruption is just as insidious an evil as a serial killer’s depredations.

The films comprising the Trilogy--1974, 1980, and 1983--directed by Julian Jarrold (Kinky Boots; Brideshead Revisited), James Marsh (Man on Wire; Project Nim), and Anand Tucker (Hilary and Jackie; Shopgirl), respectively, boast a strong cast which includes such solid British talent as Paddy Considine, Sean Bean, Andrew Garfield, and Mark Addy. Originally aired on British television, the Trilogy subsequently got favorable reception on the film festival circuit.

* The Quartet’s second novel is Nineteen Seventy-Seven, which did not make a direct transition from page to screen.

(January 2010)

Directed by Nick Tomnay (from a script co-written with Krishna Jones), The Perfect Host is a dark thriller that initially seems to be an interesting variation on the home invasion sub-genre, with David Hyde Pierce as the titular host whose home becomes a rest stop for John Taylor (Clayne Crawford), who’s just robbed a bank. Soon though, the narrative takes some turns and twists, and we’re suddenly not in the film we initially thought we were in.
If you can, try and steer clear of the trailer, which gives away some of what this one’s really about.

(Red Riding OS courtesy of; The Perfect Host OS courtesy of

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Ecomic Release & Issue 4

With the imminent release of Bathala: Apokalypsis in ecomic format, we’ve pulled down issues 1 to 3 from, leaving a sneak preview of 5 pages from each issue on the site.

Meanwhile, issue 4 is scheduled for release in pamphlet form at the next Komikon on November 19, 2011, where we’ll also be indulging in a “Catch-Up Promo” (as indicated below).

Look! Convenient recap! And a sneak peek at pages 1 & 2!

Previously in Bathala:


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

After years of maintaining a close and steady friendship with co-worker Isabel Ignacio, Andrew has finally moved their relationship into deeper territory.
But this development takes place in the middle of a sea of chaos, in a world that is tearing itself apart.

In the other half of Andrew’s dual life, Bathala does his best to stem the tide of apocalyptic hysteria that permeates society in the wake of all the wars and catastrophes and disasters occurring across the globe.
And amidst all these occurrences, reports file in of individuals who claim to be enveloped by a bright light, who hear a voice tell them, “You are blessed. You are one of the People,” and are left with a distinguishing mark on their foreheads.

Even as Bathala helps to maintain order though, a massive earthquake in Los Angeles (coinciding with an eclipse), followed shortly by the destruction of the United States’ East Coast as a result of an attack by the alien artificial intelligence Cerebellax, leaves the world stunned.
In retaliation, Bathala is forced to destroy Cerebellax’s craft, and a large chunk of it crashes into the Pacific Ocean, off the coast of Japan. Electronics zaibatsu, Irimahu, begins salvage operations almost immediately, and manages to recover the fragment of the alien vessel.
Unknown to Bathala though, Irimahu’s operations are being guided by his arch-enemy, Harold Hernandez, and the Uploaded Personality (UP) of Leonardo Carreon. The UP is a digitally encoded copy of the personality of Andrew’s twin brother, identical in every respect to the late environmentalist, save for the presence of a physical body, and quite possibly, a soul.
Cerebellax is found in the salvaged wreckage, and the UP uses its power to enslave the alien intelligence to its own system.

Meanwhile, in South Wales, a handsome stranger anticipates the weight of a Key on his palm.
And elsewhere, Leonardo Carreon, killed by a gunman months ago and yet somehow still existing, has been given a scroll and apparently been made to break the seals that cover it. With only one seal left, Leo wishes to be relieved of this burden, but is told that this is his destiny and he cannot escape it.

A strange phenomenon then takes place: all over the world, a blanket of complete silence falls.
And in the silence, Andrew’s father, Jose Carreon, now apparently one of the People, readies to tell Bathala decades-old secrets, about the hero’s origins, and his ultimate role in the End Times.

(Bathala art by Ace Enriquez.)
Auxiliary List
[1 of 4]

Now, I’ve always had a very broad definition of “horror” and that’s something I’ve never kept a secret.
I do however, admit that what I may personally consider a horror movie (for whatever particular reason) may not be seen as that by others, thus, I’m establishing the ¡Qué Horror! Auxiliaries, films that I saw in the past year that I feel need to be talked about, films that had, to varying degrees, horror elements in them, even though they may not be readily seen as “horror” films.

For the first batch, let’s have two titles that actually made the candidates list, but, because they were both titles that could raise eyebrows and questions, in regards to their status as “proper” horror films--since the first is almost like an art film approximation of a particular horror sub-genre, and the second plays out more as an indie character drama that just happens to be set against a genre background--I figured I’d feature them as Auxiliaries, since no one would question their place here. Both titles are simply too good to be overlooked because they aren’t “proper” horror films.
So, without any further blather…

(September 2009)

Playing like a curious love letter to Argento, Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani’s feature-length debut, Amer, is largely about mood and style, a cinematic exercise where narrative takes a back seat to impressionism and dream logic. While dialogue is sparse, shades of classic Argento (giallo and otherwise) can be found scattered throughout Amer’s 90 minute running time, where eroticism and death constantly stare at each other from opposite sides of a cracked mirror.

And while I single out Dario Argento as a clear touchstone of Amer, it should be noted that in an interview, Cattet and Forzani also mention Mario Bava, Lucio Fulci, and Shinya Tsukamoto, among others, as inspirations. They also make it a point to acknowledge Argento’s Inferno and the late Satoshi Kon’s Sennen Joyû (Millennium Actress). Perhaps not so incidentally, it’s interesting to note that Kon’s Perfect Blue is itself, an animated nod to giallo.

While this is clearly not for everyone, Amer is a must-see for anyone who considers himself a serious student of horror.

(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.

(Amer OS courtesy of; Monsters UK quad and components for custom OS courtesy of

Monday, November 7, 2011


If you’re a regular to the Iguana, you may have noted that aside from being a film geek, I’m also a comic book geek who happens to be a writer, of, among other things, comic books.
It’s in this capacity that I’m currently in search of the right artist to collaborate with on a comic book that’s in the superhero genre, a title with action and drama, with rock ‘em and sock ‘em, angry punchy bits and weepy, sniffy, talky bits.

If you think you’re the right artist for the job, visit the Cube for more details.