Wednesday, October 5, 2016


We've a little more than a month and a half to go till this year's NovKon, and The 'Verse will be in attendance.
It's a 2 day affair this year, so mark the weekend of November 19 and 20 on your calendars.
We hope to see all you mighty fine folk there, at the Bayanihan Center on Pioneer.
#komikonPH #Komikon2016

While I'm still waiting on a number of other issues that, hopefully, will make it in in time for NovKon, these are the titles that are ready and raring to go. (And send us some good karma so we can get to see more release announcements soon!)

Debuting at this year’s NovKon:

Issues 1 & 2 (of 4)
By David Hontiveros and Romnick Magbanua

While just trying to do the right thing, Dakila runs afoul of the Yokusuru crime family, the same bunch of drilo Kadasig also happens to be looking into.
High flying, fist to jaw, tsinelas to face action follows!

DAKILA: Siyudad
Issue 1 (of 4)
By David Hontiveros and Pyotr Mutuc

It's Halloween and Dakila meets 13-year-old Maleck, who's got a personal mission in the diabul.
Dakila helps the kid out, and, well... stuff happens!
See it to believe it...
So there you go.
Hope to see all you mighty fine folk at NovKon!

you can’t drink just six,


Tuesday, October 4, 2016

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

(May 2016)

"One morning I woke up and realised I was both surrounded and dominated by women. Strangely, a sudden urge was planted in me to make a horror film about vicious beauty. After making Drive and falling madly in love with the electricity of Los Angeles, I knew I had to return to tell the story of The Neon Demon.”
--Nicolas Winding Refn

Nicolas Winding Refn’s The Neon Demon opens with an artfully posed--and apparently dead--female body, subject to the cold, hard male gaze, and its mechanical extension, the camera.
Much can be gleaned from that single, provocative image regarding some of Refn’s thematic concerns for this, his 10th feature.

“Once you hit 21 in this industry, you’re so irrelevant.”
“Try 20.”

Following Jesse (Elle Fanning), newly arrived in L.A. to try her luck as a fashion model, The Neon Demon--which began its developmental life under the title I Walk with the Dead--is Refn’s first attempt at a horror film, and it certainly is that, albeit a horror film as told through the filter of the NWR aesthetic.

“True beauty is the highest currency we have.
“Now, without it, she would be nothing.”

My first brush with Refn’s work was Fear X, which, honestly, I wasn’t too thrilled about. I had missed his earlier titles, Pusher and Bleeder, as I also subsequently missed the Pusher sequels, and Bronson.
I checked out Valhalla Rising, but again, like Fear X, it didn’t quite take with me.
But Drive changed all that. Drive was the NWR title that solidly kicked my film geek a$$.
And though his follow-up, Only God Forgives, was not as well-received by the wider film critic community, I absolutely loved it.
So when word broke about his next film being a “horror movie/sex thriller,” I was so in.
And now, after a title change and two female co-writers brought on board (British playwright Polly Stenham and Mary Laws, who’s also written for AMC’s Preacher adaptation), here we are, and I am so happy that my film geek love for Refn continues unabated.

“You know what my mother used to call me? ‘Dangerous.’
“‘You’re a dangerous girl.’
“She was right. I am dangerous.”

With familiar genre faces that include Jena Malone and Keanu Reeves (as skeezy dirtbag motel manager, Hank), and another killer Cliff Martinez soundtrack, The Neon Demon is slick, disturbingly erotic, and hallucinatory, much like the fashion industry itself.
It’s about appearances and facades, and the casually cruel nature of the modeling business, where everyone is merely meat, complete with respective expiration dates.

“I can’t sing. I can’t dance. I can’t write. No real talent.
“But I’m pretty… and I can make money off pretty.”

Parting Shot: Given its setting and subject matter, this is a perfect companion piece to ¡Q horror! 2015 title, Starry Eyes.

Parting Shot 2: And so it goes.
Another October and another ¡Q horror! rundown.

A Happy Halloween to everyone, and hopefully, you’ll check out some of these titles for your Halloween viewing.

(The Neon Demon OS’ courtesy of,,, and

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

(March 2016)

All right. Full disclosure.
As far as I was concerned, there was a lot going for this one, all the reasons why I Am Not a Serial Killer was on my film geek radar in the first place (so I’m so glad it did not disappoint).

Max Records was headlining it.
Records was in Spike Jonze’s astounding adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are. He was also in Ruairi Robinson’s brilliant short film, Blinky. Hell, Records was even in Rian Johnson’s excellent The Brothers Bloom (though in nowhere near the same headlining capacity of either of the former titles).

Billy O’Brien was directing it.
I may not have been too thrilled with O’Brien’s second feature, The Hybrid (originally titled Scintilla), but his debut, Isolation, was a right doozy!
Which brings us rather neatly back to I Am Not a Serial Killer, because this plus Isolation is more than enough for me to politely overlook The Hybrid.

Based on Dan Wells’ novel--the screenplay is written by O’Brien and Christopher Hyde--Serial Killer follows John Wayne Cleaver (Records), a small town teen whose home life (Cleaver Family Funeral Home!) may have just helped contribute to some troubling sociopathic tendencies.
Thankfully, he’s trying to avoid the messy consequences of succumbing to his darker urges (and possibly even using funeral home chores as a coping mechanism), but some brutal killings soon draw his morbid attention, and things soon get very interesting.

With a curious, wry streak of humor running through it, Serial Killer takes some unexpected twists and turns, on its way to that WTF climax, and a commendably appropriate use of Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky.”
With Ruairi Robinson as one of its Executive Producers, and with Doc Brown himself, Christopher Lloyd, in its cast, I Am Not a Serial Killer is a title that you really need to check out, if unconventional and surprising horror is your thing…

(I Am Not a Serial Killer OS’ courtesy of &

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

(March 2016)

So in mid-January, Bad Robot stealthbombed us with the trailer for a heretofore unannounced “spiritual successor” to ¡Q horror! 2008 title, Cloverfield, Dan Trachtenberg’s 10 Cloverfield Lane (which began life as The Cellar, and was developed and produced under the code name Valencia).

The initial trailer--brilliantly orchestrated to Tommy James & The Shondells’ “I Think We’re Alone Now”--certainly revved up my geek engine, and I was in constant fear of getting spoiled by the Internets before I had a chance to see the film.
Luckily, I was not, and here we are, with a ¡Q horror! 2016 slot staked out in its own name.

I will, of course, not tell you anything that you can’t pick up from the trailer, other than this…
Though Trachtenberg has confirmed that “… [Cloverfield and 10 Cloverfield Lane] are not in the same timeline,” look who’s the Bold Futura Employee of the Month for February 2016
John Goodman’s Howard Stambler…
Maybe this is an alternate reality from the original Cloverfield, and an alternate reality Tagruato Corporation…?

Whatever the case, in this reality, 10 Cloverfield Lane is a solid title worthy of some ¡Q horror! love…


(10 Cloverfield Lane OS’ courtesy of

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

The third tie, and the winner for Most Severe Tonal Whiplash Double Bill of the Year...

(January 2016)

"I just... I really can't be pregnant, all right? It is not my style…”

So, seriously. Look at that cast.
Natasha Lyonne (pulling down double duty as one of the producers, too!), Chloë Sevigny, and Meg Tilly!
Do I have to say anything more?!

If I do, then this sordid little bit of lo-fi horror from writer/director Danny Perez is, by far, the most off-the-wall, bizarre title this year.
Hard partying Lou (Lyonne)--who was definitely not in line when God was giving out maternal instincts--discovers, to her boozy, laid-back annoyance, that she’s beginning to exhibit signs of pregnancy, when, as far as she’s concerned, she can’t be (“… I think I’d remember if I had someone’s c*ck in me”).
As it turns out, “pregnant” is an absurd oversimplification of what takes place in Antibirth.

Check it out for the cast, then stay for the gooey bits…

(February 2016)

Elena (Cosmina Stratan) is away from her Bucharest home (and civilization), working for childless couple Kasper (Peter Christoffersen) and Louise (Ellen Dorrit Petersen).
As evident from the one sheet, someone gets pregnant, and then things gradually go downhill from there.

Ali Abbasi’s Shelley (from a script by Maren Louise Käehne and Abbasi) is measured and oblique natal horror--so pregnant women or expectant couples, beware!
Actually, this stuff is creepy and disturbing, even for someone who doesn’t fall under either category…
As Abbasi’s feature debut, Shelley is also a powerful first cinematic shot, and a very promising indicator of what we can hopefully expect down the road…

Parting Shot: Incidentally, Christoffersen and Käehne both worked together previously, on the second season of Bron/Broen, which I’ve talked about here at the Iguana in the past.

(Antibirth OS courtesy of; Shelley OS courtesy of

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

(November 2015)

"Twisted fairy tale horsesh!t!"

I've talked about this ‘round these parts before, that it’s always a good thing to have go-to holiday movies.
And while there are certain go-to Christmas titles (like Go or Tokyo Godfathers), there aren’t as many go-to Christmas horror titles, except, say, Gremlins, and--but this is a stretch, as far as the horror part is concerned--The Nightmare Before Christmas.
So, thank sweet baby Jeebus for Michael Dougherty’s Krampus!
Right from the slo-mo Mucho Mart opening sequence (orchestrated to Bing Crosby’s “It’s Beginning to Look Like Christmas”), Krampus is a holiday horror delight, as Max (Emjay Anthony) inadvertently calls down the “shadow of Saint Nicholas,” the titular Krampus, who comes “… not to reward, but to punish.”

After giving us the ¡Q horror! 2010 title, Trick ‘r Treat--which is, as indicated by its title, all about Halloween horror--Dougherty takes very nearly the same general approach, but this time, tipping his horror hat to Christmas, and focusing on a single story.
And while titles like Sheitan and À l'intérieur (Inside) and Calvaire all sport Christmas-set horrors, they’re also definitely not my idea of “fun” holiday horror viewing.
Krampus is.*

And really, how can you resist a movie that has a dog named Thor playing one named Rosie?

“Yeah, but Ben Kuklinski is always ragging on Christmas. He even told the first graders that Santa was just a cheap marketing ploy invented to sell Pepsi.”
“You know what I mean.”
“But not why you care.”
“Well, someone’s gotta…”

* Having labeled it “‘fun’ holiday horror viewing,” I feel though that I should point out that this one still gets pretty dark in a number of strategic places…

(Krampus OS courtesy of

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

(October 2015)

"This is not the time for womanly imaginings.”

Well, this was a dandy surprise! Just dandy!
Writer/director S. Craig Zahler slams it out of the park with his feature debut, Bone Tomahawk, in which trouble comes to the frontier town of Bright Hope (pop. 268).

The dialogue here is sharp and funny, the characters well-written, and the performances (particularly from the lead quartet, Kurt Russell, Patrick Wilson, Matthew Fox, and a largely unrecognizable Richard Jenkins) are commendable.

This is the kind of horror film that most graciously reminds you of just how important it is to have protagonists that you can actually care about, instead of the usual stock characters that populate your average movie (scary or otherwise) these days.
And, whilst on the performer front, I should point out that both Sid Haig and David Arquette are in here for a time, and we also get some brief, stealth appearances by Sean Young and Michael Paré.

“They’re a spoiled bloodline of inbred animals who rape and eat their own mothers.”

While Bone Tomahawk may have a running time that clocks in at over 2 hours, it’s also the kind of movie where you wish the plot didn’t have to kick in at all, the experience of just getting to spend time with the characters pleasurable enough.
And of course, also because this is a horror movie, and you just know that once the plot kicks in, the bodies are gonna start to drop in earnest.
In point of fact, there are a couple of instances of harrowing, brutal gore, so be forewarned.

So, saddle up, people.
Bone Tomahawk’s a’waitin!

“Does, uhh, anybody know how to spell ‘troglodytes’?
“For the telegram.”

(Bone Tomahawk OS’ courtesy of

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

(September 2015)

There's a real life tragedy behind Marcin Wrona’s Demon.

On September 18, 2015*, Wrona was found dead--an apparent suicide--in a hotel room in Poland, where the film was screening at the Gdynia Film Festival.
It’s a painfully sad punctuation to the title, which is an emotionally wrenching, and quietly disturbing look at the Jewish legend of the dybbuk.**

In the film, a young couple’s wedding day is upended by unforeseen circumstances, and in a horror film, “unforeseen circumstances” can mean an air of malaise and unease, as the bridegroom (an excellent Itay Tiran) begins to display increasingly erratic behavior.
While there is a streak of darkly wry humor running through it, Demon is largely an outstanding work of quiet horror, and is, ultimately, about loss and memory (both as a comfortingly bittersweet salve and a burdensome reminder of collective guilt) and the transitory nature of all things.

Which, sadly, leads us back to the real life tragedy of Wrona’s death, and the fact that his passing has robbed global cinema of a promising and talented voice…

* As per and Variety; some sources list Wrona’s date of death as September 19.

** The dybbuk was also explored recently in David Goyer’s The Unborn and Ole Bornedal’s The Possession, though in both cases, with a more Hollywood mainstream horror approach.

(Demon OS courtesy of

Sunday, October 2, 2016

A Rundown of the 13 Best Horror Movies I've Seen in the Past Year
[6 of 13]
The Osgood Perkins Slot

Tie number 2...

(September 2015)

Osgood Perkins (son of Norman Bates himself, Anthony Perkins) gets a slot all to himself this year, and we kick off with his feature debut, The Blackcoat’s Daughter.
Originally titled February, the film follows Kat, Rose and Joan, the former two left largely alone and unattended at their virtually empty boarding school. Both are in a delicate condition (one, emotional, the other, physical), and soon, the quiet in the halls and rooms is shattered by the undeniable fact that this is, after all, a horror movie.

Under Perkins’ assured directorial hand, the off-kilter air that is in evidence very early on quickly settles into an unease that pervades the rest of the film’s running time, helped in no small part by Perkins’ younger brother, Elvis (himself a musician with 3 albums under his belt), who scores the proceedings with a jangly, atonal touch.

With Bryan Bertino (whose The Strangers nabbed itself a ¡Q horror! 2008 slot) as one of its producers, and genre faces James Remar, Emma Roberts, and a nearly unrecognizable Lauren Holly along for the darkly disquieting ride, The Blackcoat’s Daughter is a must-see for anyone who treasures horror that doesn’t feel the need to over-explain itself.

(September 2015)

"I'll tell you what it is, kids.
"It’s that every f*cker in the country thinks they’re a photographer now, okay? And everyone can share an image, and it’s awful. It’s awful because it makes everything just like watery piss.
“Then you have this guy who creates an image that you actually can’t f*ck with, that you actually can’t ignore…”

Serial killers are like zombies and vampires; you need to look really long and really hard to find films about them that are actually worth your time and your attention.
Nick Simon’s The Girl in the Photographs is definitely worth your time, not just because it’s an excellent (and at times, frankly brutal) serial killer thriller, but it’s also one of the last things the late, great, and sorely missed Wes Craven worked on. (At the very top of the end credits roll, the dedication, “For Wes.”)
So if you feel any allegiance at all to the late Mr. Craven, then the least you can do is check out the film that he believed in enough to Executive Produce, before he had to so abruptly leave us…

And while that should be enough reason, if you find that you still need some more motivation, then Kal Penn’s total douchebag fashion photog Peter Hemmings is one of the definite draws of the film.
There’s also Mitch Pileggi, effectively de-Skinner-izing himself as the ineffectual Sheriff Porter, and Katharine Isabelle--late of the equally sorely missed Hannibal--in a brief role.
Plus, the D.P is Dean Cundey! Halloween! The Thing! And if your cinematic tastes lean more towards big-a$$ Hollywood productions, Jurassic Park! The Back to the Future trilogy! Cundey also shot the brilliant Psycho II, which leads us to one other notable…

The film’s screenplay is credited to Osgood Perkins, Rob Morast, and Simon.
So, yeah. Psycho. Perkins. (Osgood also actually played “Young Norman” in Psycho II.)
This double whammy is a promising sign for Perkins’ sophomore directorial effort, I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House, which already garnered some good notices from its TIFF premiere last month. (Incidentally, the double whammy we're looking at right now also premiered at TIFF, last year, just 2 days apart.)

So, yes, The Girl in the Photographs.
If you want a bit of brutality in your ¡Q horror! viewing…

“This guy knows I’m from Spearfish. He’s doing this… this photography thing with his victims as… as… as an homage, as a… as a nod, a nod to me, Spearfish’s most famous citizen and only known living artist.
“Frankly, I’m flattered.”

(The Blackcoat’s Daughter, February, and The Girl in the Photographs OS' courtesy of

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

(September 2015)

"You carry Hell with you at all times...

Shot over 28 nights (there were reportedly no day shots), Baskin follows five police officers on a hallucinatory and harrowing journey as they answer a call for backup, and things go sideways in the most “Oh, sh!t, we’re screwed” horror film fashion.

Following the widespread acclaim for his original 11-minute short, Istanbul-born Can Evrenol expanded it to feature length, and has given us a deeply unsettling work that relies as much on tone and mood as it does on repulsive and gory imagery.
Crediting Eli Roth for the decision to expand to feature length (after seeing the short at the Festival Internacional de Cinema Fantàstic de Catalunya--aka Sitges--Roth reportedly asked if there was a feature script version of it), Evrenol himself describes it as both “… a micro-budget arthouse shocker” and “… a glamorous, surreal, and very dark movie.”

Whatever it is, it’s disturbing and compelling and f*cked up, and eminently deserving of some ¡Q horror! love.

(Baskin OS courtesy of