Saturday, December 31, 2011

Candidate # 3

(January 2011)

Given that the last Kevin Smith film I enjoyed without having any major issues with it was Chasing Amy, and still holding out the hope that he could once again win me over, it was with a generous amount of curiosity that I looked forward to checking out Red State, considering that it was also going to be his first “horror movie,” something that appeared to be way out of his comfort zone. (As evidenced below on the final one-sheet, it is billed as “An Unlikely Film From That Kevin Smith.”)
Of course, by the time I finally got around to having the opportunity to see it, the whole “I’ll sell the distribution rights, oh no, let me buy them instead for a negligible fee” auction thing came and went, and it had also just been announced that the film had taken home the Best Motion Picture award at Sitges 2011, where Michael Parks (who plays cult leader Abin Cooper) was also awarded Best Actor.
Well, not having yet seen some of its other Sitges competition, I can’t really say whether I agree with its Best Motion Picture win, but I will say that it’s a very good film, quite possibly the most accomplished one of Smith’s career.*

It’s always been evident that Smith has very strong and pointed opinions about everything from geek culture to religion, a characteristic made even more evident from his appearances outside of his own film work, and while I’ve always been fond of his smaller, more intimate films like his debut feature Clerks and Chasing Amy, in Red State, he delivers a caustic tale of (as the headings under which he divides his cast’s names in the end credits roll indicate) sex, religion, and politics.
The fact that the events of Red State kick off with three horny high school kids just looking for some sex should have put me off this one; I think I’ve mentioned it in these parts before, that I have very little sympathy for film characters who wind up in deep doodoo because of sheer stupidity. Instead, Smith succeeds in drawing me into his film and keeps me there for the duration. Sure these kids are dumb and horny, but what happens to them is simply our way into the story, and it’s a grim, disquieting one.

And not only is Red State the best-looking Smith film I’ve seen (Smith on edits; DP, David Klein, who’s shot most of Smith’s films, including the Reaper pilot), it also sports the best cast Smith has ever assembled, with John Goodman; Kevin Pollak; Oscar, SAG, and Independent Spirit Award winner, Melissa Leo; the Sitges winner, Parks; and Stephen Root. There are also other familiar faces in this like Kevin Alejandro (as with Root, a True Blood alumnus), Buffy alumnus Marc Blucas, and younger, recognizable actors, like Kyle Gallner and Michael Angarano. In a fun bit of casting, Smith also ropes in noted casting director Deborah Aquila (instrumental in casting shows like Dexter and The Shield, and films like The Mist, One Hour Photo, and Sex, Lies, and Videotape) for a small role.

If you think Smith is only about raunchy, potty-mouthed comedy, then give Red State a look. It’s mean and nasty, but it certainly proves that Smith can step away from his comfort zone and deliver the goods.

* I have yet to see both Jersey Girl and Cop Out, so, for all I know, either of these films could whup Red State’s a$$ from here to Timbuktu and back.
Or not.

(Red State OS’ courtesy of and

Candidate # 2

(April 2011)

The Smiths are a troubled family trying to return to a normal life in the wake of an initially undisclosed past tragedy, but the arrival of the stranger Nick (Patrick Breen) to their household signals the beginning of a night of harrowing revelation and bloodshed.
Written and directed by Philip Gelatt, The Bleeding House is an interesting look at the high costs that must be paid to protect one’s family. It may not have the razorblade intensity or gory splatter of other films of its ilk, but it’s still a film that has things to say, and for that, it’s definitely worth a look.

(The Bleeding House OS courtesy of

Candidate # 1

(September 2010)

In the same manner that Gareth Edwards’ Monsters was essentially an indie character piece with alien monsters running all about the place, Adam Wingard’s A Horrible Way To Die is an indie character piece with a serial killer as one of its characters.
The pacing, the narrative structure, the entire general approach to the material is very tellingly from this particular branch of the vast and sprawling cinematic tree, so whether or not you enjoy this film will probably be dictated by where indie character pieces fall on your personal movie tastes barometer.
You’ll either like and applaud the efforts of Wingard and writer Simon Barrett in applying that template onto genre material, or you won’t.
If you do like it, though, you’ll also find some nice performances by Amy Seimetz as a woman recovering from both alcohol and a very bad relationship, Joe Swanberg as a fellow AAer who shows an interest in Seimetz’s Sarah, and the ever-reliable AJ Bowen, who’s continued to impress since I first caught sight of him in past ¡Qué Horror! title, The Signal. Here, he plays Garrick Turrell, the aforementioned serial killer who has “several fan sites on the Internet dedicated to him, and a Facebook fan page with membership in the hundreds of thousands.”

Though I was never really that bowled over by Barrett’s past work on scripts for Dead Birds or Red Sands, I do appreciate what he’s done here, and heartily look forward to his subsequent collaborations with Wingard, which includes the very buzz-y festival darling, You’re Next, which plays an interesting variation on the home invasion template. (The other collaborations are shorts for the anthologies The ABCs of Death and V/H/S, which is debuting at Sundance 2012.)

(A Horrible Way To Die OS courtesy of; DVD cover art courtesy of

Sunday, December 11, 2011


Alternative Alamat is an anthology of short fiction that repurposes Filipino myths and legends into modern, 21st century configurations, that is going to be available in ebook format on December 14.
I was invited by editor Paolo Chikiamco to contribute a piece to it, and thus, my story, “Balat, Buwan, Ngalan (A Myth for the 21st Century)” is contained therein.

Below is the story’s introduction (which also doubles as the writer’s bio), as it appears in the anthology:

Balat, Buwan, Ngalan

(A Myth for the 21st Century)

David Hontiveros

David Hontiveros was a National Book Award Finalist for Best Comic Book in 1997 for Dhampyr (drawn by Oliver Pulumbarit), and a 2002 Palanca Award Winner (2nd Place in Future Fiction- English Category) for his short story, “Kaming Mga Seroks.” He has three horror/dark fantasy novellas out under the Penumbra imprint, published by Visprint, as well as a digital novel, Pelicula, from Bronze Age Media. His on-going comic book series, Bathala: Apokalypsis, is also available digitally from Flipside. He has had his short fiction, film reviews, articles, and comics appear in several Philippine publications. He has recently adapted Bret Harte (no, not the wrestler) and Edgar Allan Poe (twice!) into comic book form for Graphic Classics. He may be observed online at (where he blathers on about film) and (where assorted bits of his work are housed). He would like to humbly dedicate the story to his four current grandspawn, in chronological order: Gray, Mischa, Chloe, and Sophia, who will keep the flames of his family history burning on, down through the years.

While the Philippines is home to distinct cultural groups, a certain amount of cultural cross-pollination did take place. The results are myths which are variations of the same themes, and characters which appear in more than one culture, or who bear the same name but with an altered form. But, as David says of this story, there is power in words and there is truth in myth. If these characters did exist… which version would be true? Would it matter?

I should point out for those who follow my books and comics that “Balat, Buwan, Ngalan” has very solid ties to some of my past (and future) work.

And among the ten other stories in the anthology is a Trese prose piece by none other than Budjette Tan, as well as lots of kicka$$ art by Mervin Malonzo.
For more on Alternative Alamat, please check here.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


“You know what that is? I’ll tell you what that is! That’s an alien, bruv. Believe it! Must have come from outer space trying to take over the Earth, innit?”

Playing like an ‘80’s Amblin movie recontextualized to the council estates of South London, Attack the Block is an absolute blast as Wyndham Tower falls prey to an invasion of “big alien gorilla wolf motherf-ckers,” all black fur and fluorescent fangs (courtesy of Mike Elizalde’s Spectral Motion), who run afoul of the block’s juvenile toughs, led by Moses (an impressive John Boyega).

Written and directed by Joe Cornish, with Edgar Wright as one of its executive producers, Attack the Block made a big splash at this year’s SXSW Film Festival as part of the Midnighters section (where it won the Midnight Screening Audience Award), and also made an impression at Sitges (taking home Best Original Soundtrack, the Special Jury Award, the Audience Award for Best Motion Picture, and the Jose Luis Guarner Critic Award).
It really isn’t hard to see why. This one’s a whole lot of fun, with Nick Frost and Brothers of the Head’s and Heartless’ Luke Treadaway joining the delinquents for this wild alien romp.

“Excuse my French. They’re f-ckin’ monsters, ‘int they?”

(Attack the Block UK quad and OS courtesy of

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Auxiliary List
[4 of 4]

And for the final batch of the 2011 Auxiliaries, a pair of very strange films…

(May 2009)

Nominated at the Oscars for Best Foreign Film, Greece’s Kynodontas is a darkly humorous and ultimately disturbing look at the reality that how parents raise their children really does make all the difference in the world.

(May 2010)

Yes, in case you’ve heard about this one, this is indeed the film about the angry psychic tire named “Robert.”
You read that correctly.
And while Quentin Dupieux’s Rubber is certainly about that, it’s also about art and how an audience relates to art, how art is influenced by the audience, and the disturbing possibilities of art becoming something more than what was originally intended.
Brilliant and absurd, this is quite unlike anything else on this Auxiliary list, or on the main ¡Qué Horror! 2011 rundown, for that matter.

(Kynodontas OS, Dogtooth UK quad, and Rubber OS courtesy of