Monday, November 24, 2014

¡Qué horror! 2015
Candidate #8

(March 2014)

After barging onto the ¡Q horror! 2012 rundown with Penumbra, Argentinian director Adrián García Bogliano is back with his English language feature debut, Late Phases, working off a script written by Eric Stolze.
Here, Nick Damici plays retired US Army officer Ambrose McKinley, who has only just moved into the Crescent Bay Retirement Community, when he is rudely made aware that something beastial seems to be active in the area, something that seems to have a monthly cycle…
So, yes, no need to be coy, it’s all over the trailer and the one sheet below: werewolf.

The beauty of Late Phases is, it doesn’t quite play like any werewolf film I’ve seen.
True, it’s got the familiar horror movie trope of the protagonist who seems to be the only one aware of the nature of the threat, but Damici’s crotchety (and blind) McKinley isn’t your average misunderstood horror movie lead.
With some excellent supporting performances by Ethan Embry and Tom Noonan, a practically unrecognizable Lance Guest, brief appearances by Dana Ashbrook and Larry Fessenden (also one of the film’s producers), and some noteworthy creature effects courtesy of Robert Kurtzman’s Creature Corps, Late Phases is a solid entry in the annals of werewolf cinema, which, let’s face it, needs a whole lot more of this kind of title to beef up its hairy, lupine ranks.

(Late Phases OS’ courtesy of

Sunday, November 23, 2014

¡Qué horror! 2015
Candidate #7

(October 2014)

The following film includes a partly edited medical documentary, outtakes, and surveillance footage from the scenes of the crime.

Adam Robitel’s feature debut takes the real life horror of Alzheimer’s disease and mashes that up with some supernatural goings on to produce a potent title in The Taking of Deborah Logan.
Here, medical student Mia Hu (Neighbours’ Michelle Ang) sets about centering her PHD Thesis film on the titular Deborah Logan (All My Children’s Jill Larson), hoping to document the effects of the disease, not just on Logan, but on her daughter Sarah (Anne Ramsay, from Mad About You and The Secret Life of the American Teenager), as well.

While there are some heavy hitters in the mix here (the film is produced by Bryan Singer--the closing credits actually declare it a “Bryan Singer Presents” production) and some familiar genre figures are thanked in the end credits roll (Bryan Cranston, Guillermo del Toro, Michael Dougherty, James Wan, to name some) the onscreen MVPs here are definitely Larson and Ramsay, who ground the proceedings in a very real mother-daughter relationship, warts and all.

“I do all my little puzzles. I do crosswords. I’m lifting weights. I am doing everything that I… I have read will help to stave off the progression of this disease. Stave it off! There’s no cure. And so, when I am in the middle of something and suddenly, my mind just… leaves the premises…. There are no words to describe how distressing it is.”

Much of the potency of the film is rooted in the awful deterioration that sets in with Alzheimer’s, and as the narrative unspools, there are shades of The Exorcist, in that we are also witness to the horror when modern medicine finds itself unable to deal with a patient’s condition, when the doctors are just as in the dark as the besieged victim and family.
There is also at least one instance of a quick cut “subliminal,” again, ala The Exorcist.
Admittedly, the title mines all that it can from the horror movie idea of the Creepy Old Lady, which is sadly quite unfair to all the Nice Little Old Ladies out there, but the end result is nonetheless an effective little found footage-y humdinger.

(The Taking of Deborah Logan OS courtesy of

Sunday, November 16, 2014

¡Qué horror! 2015
Candidate #6

(March 2014)

So you're an actor. You can become other people. But can you be yourself? Can you put your inner being on the screen? Then come try out for Celeste, a young up and coming actor in our Tinsel Town terror tale: The Silver Scream.

It’s that notice that aspiring actress-slash-Taters Girl Sarah Walker (Alexandra Essoe) answers which leads her right up to the gateway to fame and stardom.
But does she have what it takes to step through that gateway? Is she willing to embrace all that she is, deep down inside, in order to ascend into the firmament of the Hollywood elite?

Starry Eyes--written and directed by Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer--takes a look at the idea of how Hollywood can really change a person, through the lens of the horror film.
Shot over the course of 18 days (with an additional 3 days of re-shoots), it’s a remarkable achievement that is a disturbing look at the entertainment industry.
And given that central idea of transformation and its ultimate costs, La La Land is the perfect setting for the narrative. A toxic environment where people reinvent themselves every day, where dreams are shredded and shattered every single hour. Where desperation is the drug of choice, mainlined by every waiter and limo driver and physical trainer, each and every one of them aspiring actors or writers or actor-slash-writers, all just waiting, yearning, for that Big Break.
It’s a film that asks, quite pointedly, how much are you willing to pay, how far are you willing to go, to answer the siren song of your ambitions.

“Sarah, if you can’t really let yourself go, how can you ever transform into something else?”

(Starry Eyes OS’ courtesy of &

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

At the 5th Philippine International Literary Festival and Book Industry Summit
(November 12)

Apologies for the very short notice, but stuff happened suddenly and swiftly, and it appears I'll be at the Bayanihan Center on Pioneer, tomorrow, Wednesday, November 12, from 1PM onwards, as part of the PILF festivities, which runs until Friday, the 14th.
You'll find the complete list of Visprint creators attending here.
Feel free to drop by with your copies of SEROKS or anything else you'd like signed!

Plus, not to forget, I'll be at the Bayanihan Center again on Saturday, November 15, for NovKon 2014, with the latest 'Verse releases!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

¡Qué horror! 2015
Candidate #5

(January 2014)

It's been six years since Carter Smith's debut feature, The Ruins (which wound up on the ¡Q horror! 2008 list), and he returns to these parts with another adaptation, Jamie Marks Is Dead, based on Christopher Barzak’s Locus nominated One For Sorrow.

Opening with the discovery of the corpse of the titular Jamie Marks (Noah Silver), it takes a while for the supernatural creeps to fully kick in, and when they do (at around the 20 minute mark), they’re pretty low key and actually have a lot of longing and aching poignancy in the mix.
But this in no way diminishes their unsettling and disturbing potency. (Note that the trailer is a tad misleading, seeming to suggest a fairly typical Hollywood ghost story, when the actual film is most definitely an atypical tale of the restless dead.)

Shot with a wintry melancholy by Darren Lew (his first feature work) and with Penny Dreadful’s John Logan as one of its executive producers, Jamie Marks Is Dead may not even register as “horror” for some, but there’s a gripping sadness here beneath the otherworldly elements that’s rooted in the horrors of existence and memory, of the need to belong and to be wanted, wrenching emotions that, sadly, even the quick are all too familiar with.

(Jamie Marks Is Dead OS’ courtesy of

Sunday, November 2, 2014


If you (like myself) checked out today's edition of the Philippine Sunday Inquirer you'll have noted that there was no Sunday Inquirer Magazine...
I've been informed that there were gremlins involved with the delay of the actual physical issue (which contains Ruey De Vera's article on yours truly).
The issue itself will be released next Sunday (November 9), so check the Philippine Sunday Inquirer then, if you (like myself) are partial to having the printed word in physical form.
And, if you want to read the article right now, it's online here.

Thanx again to the mighty fine Ruey De Vera, as well as Nida and Budjette, for the kind words...

Saturday, November 1, 2014

¡Qué horror! 2015
Candidate #4

(January 2014)

Jennifer Kent's feature debut is the exquisitely dark contemporary fable, The Babadook, in which overstressed Amelia (Essie Davis) must single-handedly cope with the handful of holy terror that is her six-year-old son Samuel (Noah Wiseman).

Toss in a disturbing children’s book (designed and illustrated by Alex Juhasz, who won an Emmy for the opening title sequence of United States of Tara) and that bubbling pot of parental anxiety just overflows disastrously.
Those blurbs on the UK quad below? In this day and age of sadly overblown hyperbole (“Best! Movie! Ever!”), they’re very definitely well-earned…

Parting Shot: Another disturbing aspect of The Babadook?
Daniel Henshall, in a small role; seeing the man who played “Australia’s worst serial killer” in ¡Q horror! 2012 title, Snowtown appear as a rather nice and decent fellow… very troubling indeed…

Parting Shot 2: Kent’s 2005 short film, “Monster,” can be found on Vimeo here.
It’s pretty much a 9 minute rudimentary blueprint for The Babadook.
My humble suggestion: if you plan to watch The Babadook, do that first, and then, if you’re curious, check out “Monster.”

(The Babadook OS and UK quad courtesy of

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


This year's NovKon will be held on November 15 at the regular Kon venue, the Bayanihan Center on Pioneer.
The ‘Verse will be there, as usual, and as far as new issues go, we’ve got a double Dakila whammy for all you mighty fine folk…

In alphabetical order:

Issue 2 (of 3)
By David Hontiveros and Jason Confesor

[Front Cover]

Your name is Brandon Ramirez and you’ve been a geek your whole life: comics, movies, RPGs, cosplay.

And now you’re officially the world’s first superhero, as evidenced by the cape, the mask, the totally ripped physique, and those crazy-awesome powers.

Higher agencies seem to have conspired to steer you right into that skintight outfit.

We have only one question: How’s that working out for you?

It’s been 96 days since 18-year old Brandon Ramirez first became Dakila.

His girlfriend Haliya is a lunar princess, whose childhood bestie, Agrios, is a demon-werewolf hybrid who’s none too thrilled with the teen superhero hanging around…

In “Bad Moon Rising” (the first part of “Balatkayo”), join us to celebrate someone’s birthday with some deception and a side order of treachery!
Plus, Brandon and Haliya go out dancing.
Sort of.

Dakila. 18 years old. Cosmic champion.
Whoever thought being in love could get this insane?

[Back Cover]

DAKILA: Metronom
Issue 1 (of 3)
By David Hontiveros and Nonie Cruzado

[Front Cover]

It’s only been 19 days since 17-year old Brandon Ramirez first became Dakila.
And now, a viral video is about to become instrumental in drawing him into the orbit of an eccentric millionaire expat, and he’s about to find out just how dangerous collecting rare colored vinyl can actually be…

Dakila. 17 years old. Cosmic champion.
All of a sudden, acne and getting a driver’s license are so not a big deal.

[Back Cover]

So there you go.
I should point out though that there’s still a chance there’ll be one more new issue, provided it can come in under the wire.
So send out some good karma for us, so we can have a third new ‘Verse issue at NovKon.

Hope to see all you mighty fine folk there.

And, in other news…

I was interviewed a couple of weeks back by the mighty fine Ruey De Vera of the Sunday Inquirer Magazine.
As I understand it, the article will appear in the November 2 edition, so check it out if you get the chance.

you can’t drink just six,


Monday, October 27, 2014

¡Qué horror! 2015
Candidate #3

(April 2014)

Based on the trailer and everything I'd heard about it beforehand, I went into Marc Carreté’s feature debut, Asmodexia, believing it was a possession/exorcism film, which it isn’t, really.
While it does follow elderly Eloy de Palma (Luís Marco) and his granddaughter Alba (Clàudia Pons)--apparently itinerant exorcists--during the three days before the 21st of December, 2012*, a date they refer to as “The Resurrection,” Asmodexia ultimately isn’t a film that’s meant to go where all post-Exorcist possession movies fear to tread.
Asmodexia is something else entirely, and it would be totally irresponsible of me to say what it is about.
Suffice it to say that it deserves some ¡Q horror! love, and if you’re in the mood for some effective Spanish-language horror, then you really should check it out.

* A date that, incidentally enough, coincides with the so-called Mayan Apocalypse.

(Asmodexia OS courtesy of

Thursday, October 23, 2014

¡Qué horror! 2015
Candidate #2

(September 2014)

"In the spring of 1946, in the small town of Texarkana, on the Texas-Arkansas border, a series of horrific murders were committed by a masked assailant known only as ‘The Phantom Killer.’”

 “In 1976, a film inspired by the infamous ‘Moonlight Murders’ was released. Every year, on Halloween, The Town That Dreaded Sundown is screened somewhere in Texarkana, in tribute to the Phantom’s legacy of death and blood.
“Today, Texarkana is a place haunted by its past, defined by a mystery that was never solved, and a tragedy that could never be forgotten.”

So this is an interesting one.
“Based on the 1976 film entitled ‘The Town That Dreaded Sundown,’ written by Earl E. Smith,” Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s identically titled piece is ostensibly a remake, but actually something arguably more ambitious.
It’s a film that’s set in the real world, or at least, a world much like our own, where the late Charles B. Pierce* did indeed direct a film entitled The Town That Dreaded Sundown, which was released in 1976, and was itself based on a series of unsolved murders in 1946.

Now, while the screenplay--by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, who’s written for film (the Carrie remake), television (a bunch of Glee and some Big Love), stage (the Dallas Theater Center production of It’s a Bird… It’s a Plane… It’s Superman and Broadway’s Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark) and comics (he’s currently chief creative officer of Archie Comics Publications)--doesn’t necessarily break new ground as far as this type of movie goes, it’s really Gomez-Rejon’s directorial flair that seals the deal on this.
Bringing the same kind of visual bravura he brings to his American Horror Story episodes (aided and abetted by Michael Goi, who shot all the post-Pilot episodes of Salem as well as a whole slew of AHS, and Joe Leonard, who’s edited over a season’s worth of Glee), Gomez-Rejon’s work here is quite possibly the biggest reason to see this one.
But if you need more, there’s a whole bunch of familiar genre faces here, from Veronica Cartwright to Gary Cole to Denis O’Hare (playing Charles B. Pierce, Jr., the son of the man who directed the original 1976 Town!) to Joshua Leonard (The Blair Witch Project’s very own “Josh”).

Produced by Jason Blum and Ryan Murphy (and thus, the presence of all the Glee and AHS alumni becomes readily apparent), this new The Town That Dreaded Sundown is an interesting (and at times, vicious) piece that comes with a hearty ¡Q horror! stamp of approval.
When I sat down to watch this one, it had been quite a while since I’d last seen the 1976 version, but Aguirre-Sacasa’s script does an excellent job of paralleling the on-screen events with the plot of the original, as well as the real-life crimes (including an apparently tangential case that was not previously touched on).
So, whether you’ve seen the original or not, Gomez-Rejon’s quasi-remake should still work its bloody, brutal magic on you…

* Pierce also brought us The Legend of Boggy Creek, which scared the crap out of me when Channel 9 (if I remember right) used to show it way back when I was a wee horrorhead…

Parting Shot: The art on the original Town OS above? By the late Ralph McQuarrie.
Yes, that Ralph McQuarrie. You can even find samples of poster comps under the film’s working title, Phantom, at Ralph McQuarrie’s official Facebook page.

(The Town That Dreaded Sundown OS’ courtesy of

Monday, October 13, 2014

¡Qué horror! 2015
Sidebar (1)

(October 2014)

Since I mentioned Trick 'r Treat in the previous post, it would be downright criminal for me not to mention that Waxwork Records is releasing Douglas Pipes’ score on vinyl (as a double LP), and the coloured vinyl variants are awesome!

[Black and Orange Swirl Vinyl]

[Candy Corn Splatter Vinyl]

Plus, the Picture Disc:

Oh, the album cover artwork is by Francesco Francavilla!
Plus, a Bonus “Spooky Sound-FX” Album!
What more do you need for a Happy Halloween?!

(Images courtesy of

¡Qué horror! 2015
Candidate #1

(September 2014)

The following feature film was created by 26 directors from around the world. Each director was given a letter of the alphabet and asked to choose a word.

They then created a short tale of death that related to their chosen word. They had complete artistic freedom regarding the content of their segments.

Anthologies and consistency are rarely a close partnership.
Because of so many factors, chances are, in any given anthology, there will probably be entries that you will love, entries that you will not love, and entries that you will feel indifferent towards.*
I guess the original The ABCs of Death was simply too much of a mixed bag for me to feel right about giving it a blanket ¡Q horror! nod.
Thankfully, that isn’t the case with the follow-up, the definite article-less ABCs of Death 2.

Among the definite standouts, we’ve got: the stop-motion grotesqueries of Robert Morgan’s “D is for Deloused”; Kristina Buožytė and Bruno Samper’s “K is for Knell”; Jen and Sylvia Soska’s “T is for Torture Porn”; and Chris Nash’s showstopping “Z is for Zygote.”
(Well, it would have been a showstopper if it had been anywhere else but at the end; as it is, it’s the most brilliant, WTF ending the anthology could have hoped for. Nash is known for his Skinfection Trilogy of short films: “My Main Squeeze”; “Blackhead”; and “Liplock.” He also submitted the entry “T is for Thread” for The ABCs of Death, though that slot was ultimately taken by Lee Hardcastle’s “T is for Toilet.”)

We’ve got the excellently-paced and edited “N is for Nexus” by Larry Fessenden (yay!) and “S is for Split” by Juan Martínez Moreno; the future dystopia of Vincenzo Natali’s “U is for Utopia”; the sordid goings-on in Jerome Sable’s “V is for Vacation”; and the gonzo bizarro “Y is for Youth” by Soichi Umezawa.
There’s also the weighty horror of Julian Gilbey’s “C is for Capital Punishment”; Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado’s “F is for Falling”; and Dennison Ramalho’s “J is for Jesus.”

And entries from a few other ¡Q horror! alumni: “A is for Amateur,” directed by E.L. Katz and written by David Chirchirillo (who collaborated on ¡Q horror! 2014 title, Cheap Thrills) and “X is for Xylophone,” which sees Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo once again work with their dark muse, Béatrice Dalle.

“Based on a franchise dream by Ant Timpson,” with a title sequence directed and animated by Wolfgang Matzl, ABCs of Death 2 is without a doubt a stronger title than its predecessor, and it most definitely deserves a ¡Q horror! shout-out.
It’s also given me a whole boatload of faith and excitement for the third installment in this franchise dream, which is announced at the tail end of the credits roll.

* There are, of course, exceptions to this rule, such as when all the segments are executed by one person (Michael Dougherty’s Trick ‘r Treat, which wound up on the ¡Q horror! 2010 Final 13) or if the number of segments is low to begin with (Little Deaths, which has three segments; anthologies with four segments or more, that’s where I think you start to get into trouble with consistency).

(ABCs of Death 2 OS courtesy of

Saturday, October 4, 2014

¡Qué horror! 2014
The Wrap-Up

So there we are.
Another October and another ¡Q horror! rundown.
And the twelve months leading up to ¡Q horror! 2015 have already begun…
But before we bring this year’s festivities to a close, I have to mention this:

(July 2014)

Since this isn’t a film or a television show episode (it’s a series of deleted and alternate scenes from Fire Walk With Me), this really couldn’t rightfully qualify as a Candidate.
Nevertheless, this deserves a ¡Q horror! mention for a couple of scenes that, even if taken just as they are, and out of any sort of context, still pack a potent wallop on the unwary, regardless of whether you’ve seen Twin Peaks or not.
These brief snippets are more unnerving and unsettling than many of Hollywood’s recent feature length “horror” offerings.
A master of combining sight and sound and producing compact little audio-visual nightmares, David Lynch has secreted a number of bizarre little gems in “Missing Pieces,” including more of David Bowie’s Agent Phillip Jeffries.

If you’re a TP fan, then this is, as they say, a “must-see,” if only so you can be your own final arbiter on whether the inclusion of these scenes would have made any significant difference to Fire Walk With Me.
And if you’ve never seen TP or its feature film prequel, then get a taste of Lynch’s television masterpiece here.
(Nearly a quarter of a century after it premiered, it’s still at the top of my Best TV Shows Ever list. 24 years and change and no other show has managed to steal that crown…)

Plus, given the recent simultaneous tweets from David Lynch and Mark Frost (at 11:30 AM apparently, the same time Special Agent Dale Cooper entered the lovely town of Twin Peaks way back in the Pilot), this could serve as a brief taste of all the strange and wonderful things that may yet come…

Yes, please, could I have some more?

“I’ve always said, ‘I love a continuing story.’
“To love a world and be able to go deeper and deeper into that world.
“So, there’s always a possibility, and you just have to wait and see.”
--David Lynch, when asked about a possible continuation of Twin Peaks, September 2014

(Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery Blu-ray cover art courtesy of

A Rundown of the 13 Best Horror Movies I've Seen in the Past Year
[13 of 13]

(August 2014)

This is the world we live in today*: the only real found footage films** that should merit attention are those that A) prove to be something unprecedented within the genre, pushing the envelope, or tearing right through it, or B) are noteworthy examples of the genre’s “traditional” form.
The Possession of Michael King (from director David Jung) falls squarely in the latter category. It doesn’t have any ambitions of showing us anything particularly new. But, while it does colour within the lines, the hues and shades are decidedly of a rather dark and sinister persuasion, as compared to the bland palettes of the hordes of average run-of-the-mill found footage films out there.

The titular Michael King (Shane Johnson) makes a New Year’s resolution: he’s going to make a documentary about his family, to show the world just how lucky and blessed he is as a human being (even if, as he so pointedly admits very early on in the film, he doesn’t believe in God).
But tragedy strikes, and the documentary instead becomes one where Michael sets out to prove once and for all whether the supernatural exists.
Unfortunately, his grief fuels his brazenness, and he unthinkingly calls out far more than he bargained for…

Again, though this is not a found footage game changer in any way, shape, or form, there’s still some disturbing imagery in this one, and a notable performance by Johnson.
(Though you have to wonder why characters in these kinds of movies never seem to listen during the supernatural infodump early in the running time; if they did, they’d realize everything that would come in horrifyingly short order is all outlined right there…)

* The fact is, we've been living in it for quite awhile now.

** Please note that this also goes for zombies on film, whether on the big screen or small...

(The Possession of Michael King OS courtesy of

Friday, October 3, 2014

A Rundown of the 13 Best Horror Movies I've Seen in the Past Year
[12 of 13]

(March 2014)

Rose Leslie (late of Game of Thrones and who was awesome as Young Milner in the opening flashback episode of Utopia’s second series) and Harry Treadaway (currently seen on Penny Dreadful) are newlyweds Bea and Paul, off to a cabin in the woods for the titular honeymoon.

And since Honeymoon is on this year's final ¡Q horror! rundown, it’s safe to assume that things go terribly awry. (Of course, I’m hard-pressed to come up with a single film where anything that had to do with a “cabin in the woods” turned out sunshiny bright and peachy keen.)

I won’t go into the nature of Honeymoon’s threat, but suffice it to say that Leigh Janiak’s debut feature is a disturbing cinematic experience where love and identity and terror say their “I do’s” to produce an unholy union where the inability to make French toast or coffee become terrible omens of the madness to come…

(Honeymoon OS courtesy of

Thursday, October 2, 2014

A Rundown of the 13 Best Horror Movies I've Seen in the Past Year
[11 of 13]

(March 2014) 

"... Great wealth is within your grasp. 36 hours from now, you can be a very rich man. All you have to do is complete 13 challenges.”

The last time Daniel Stamm was hanging ‘round these parts was for the ¡Q horror! 2011 candidate, The Last Exorcism.
This time out, he barges into the Final 13 by helming the English language remake of Chukiat Sakveerakul’s 13 Game Sayawng, where a grotesque game show gradually turns its contestants into savage cutthroats, all for that next bit of green.

“I will dance with the Golden Toad.”

Not only is the action relocated to New Orleans, but the stakes are amped up considerably for the film’s protagonist, Elliot Brindle (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World’s Mark Webber): he’s got a pregnant soon-to-be wife (True Blood’s Rutina Wesley) and mentally disabled brother (Devon Graye, who played teen-aged Dexter Morgan) who are depending on him.
And while there are certain elements from the original which have been excised (thankfully, the awkward tonal shifts and, less so, the active female supporting role), there are also welcome additions: among them, a deeper glimpse into the game’s backstory, and some familiar genre faces (Ron Perlman and Pruitt Taylor Vince).
Plus, George Coe (who currently voices Woodhouse on Archer) doing the “Game Voice.”

“So says the Golden Toad: ‘A brave arm makes a short sword long.’”

The changes from the original (which include the specifics of most of the game’s challenges) serve to tighten the narrative’s plot and thematics, and also serve to foreground the dark empowerment and paranoia that engulfs Elliot as he gets further along in the game.
Ultimately, 13 Sins is not only a more refined and polished version of 13 Game Sayawng, it’s also a harder-hitting and more emotionally potent piece.

“Try to think of this in the most positive, empowering way as a gun pointed to your head.”

Parting Shot: This could actually make an interesting double feature with Cheap Thrills...

(13 Sins OS courtesy of