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