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Horrible Imaginings Film Festival in San Diego – Day Two

Saturday, September 9 2017 brought us day two of the Horrible Imaginings Film Festival at the Museum for Photographic Art (MOPA) in Balboa Park, San Diego CA. Some of you may wonder why we keep coming back to this. Well if you have any doubts just listen to any of our interviews with Miguel Rodriguez (episode 27, episode 87) in order to understand why this is such a rewarding film/story genre, but also a highly misunderstood one as well.
So, are you ready to read about Day Two?
Big thanks go out to Horror Houseparty.com for providing the programming information in a format that was both easy to edit, but also easy to copy/paste into our website.
Saturday starts with the “Bump in the Night Short Film Showcase,” a block of ten short films focusing on those things that go . . . well, you know. Expect creatures, ghosts, monsters, and more, some real and some imagined – but all frightening! “The Bump in the Night Short Film Showcase” will runfrom 11:00 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. on Saturday.
11:00 a.m.– “Nite Time” Directed by Fernando A. Fisher. (“A girl finds herself in a deep sleep. The more she dreams, the more strange things happen to her. Is that thing following her real or imagined?”)
This short film had some unusual imagery, especially the interesting use of projecting the TV picture on the wall behind our lead and watching all of the images on her face as well. It didn’t serve any purpose, but it was an interesting story telling technique. This film shows how Mexicans are very skilled at making highly atmospheric horror films. It plays on how illogical nightmares can be, but this takes it a wonderful horror level.
11:10 a.m.– “Void Chair” Directed by Xavier Miralles. (“A girl walking home in the middle of the night finds a rocking chair that catches her attention. When the girl gets closer to touch and rock it, her gesture wakes up something disturbing.”)
Beware old men leaving old rocking chairs in creepy alleys! Another film that really reflects the culture of Mexican filmmaking. It took its time in getting started and in its development, but this isn’t a bad thing. The pacing was deliberate and well executed.
11:18 a.m. – “Level” Directed by Andrew Hunt. (“Trapped inside a never-ending nightmare, a cat and mouse game plays out between our a Man and a hellish beast lurking in the shadows.”)
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The lack of dialogue, along with some very unnerving ambient sounds makes this an almost terrifying short film. There is no explanation as to how our victim got trapped there. It doesn’t matter. The ending is a fun surprise, and that is why horror films can be awesome!
11:37 a.m.– “Nightlight” Directed by Kyle Daly. (“The shadows are full of hidden monsters. We flip on the bedside lamp to cast them away. But, if we fear the dark, how do we know they don’t fear the light?”)
This was a terribly amusing film that turns childhood terrors on its head. It was one of those movies that scares you and makes you laugh at the same time. It’s also a great lesson about coming to know that very thing we are most afraid of, and that maybe it’s not quite so terrifying at all.
11:41 a.m.– “Bestia” Directed by Gigi Saul Guerrero. (“When the lone survivor of a disaster awakens on a deserted beach, it becomes clear that there are more dangers lurking in the woods than a hungry beast.”)
The terror in here is not seeing the creature that hunts our survivor. It sounds terrifying, but then again, aren’t we all terrifying at heart? It was slightly telegraphed, but still well played.
11:49 a.m.– “Sandman” Directed by Liam Banks. (“When Sandy awakens from a strange dream, she finds that nothing could have prepared her for the nightmare she finds herself in – now that she is awake.”)
Now this was scary! Seeing something evil stalk you slowly and methodically is the stuff made of nightmares for me. Throw in some really intense lighting changes, and you end up with something that can overwhelm and terrify you at the same time. If you like to be scared by more than just things that jump out at you, then this short is it.
11:55 a.m.– “Helen” Directed by Emily Dell. (“An office all-nighter becomes a living nightmare as Helen is haunted by her demon, both within and without.”)
Interesting nightmarish short about demons that are made up of insecurities. It does employ the standard “jump-scare” tactic. It also gives a whole new meaning to “wrestling with your demons.”
12:03 p.m.– “Call of Charlie” Directed by Nick Spooner. (“A trendy Los Angeles couple sets up a blind date for two of their friends, one of whom is an ancient evil deity vibrating with pure malice. A macabre comedy of manners, alternately amusing and disturbing.”)
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If Lovecraft were to make a comedy, it would be this. It’s creepy, and darkly comedic. It’s brilliantly filmed, and the title character is delightfully funny! Just think “20,000 Leagues Under the Kraken.” To say anything else would spoil it!
12:17 p.m.– “The Northleach Horror” Directed by David Cairns. (“In 1941, mild-mannered linguist Enzo McWheattie is summoned to a secret bunker by his old friend Whitsuntide, a deranged scientist, attempting to summon the spirits of dead British spies so he can debrief them to assist in the war effort.”)
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This short plays on some really cheesy period stereotypes, making for a fun horror comedy. It’s almost horrifyingly politically incorrect!!! For a short film set during World War II, this horror short was laugh out loud funny!!!
12:32 p.m.– “Three Skeleton Key” Directed by Andrew Hamer. (“Set in 1921, an American lighthouse crew on the small island of Three Skeleton Key become unnerved when a ship ignores their beacon, soon discovering that something is on board the ship, and it’s not human.”)
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Sort of a classic “haunted lighthouse” short, but dealing with a threat that was abit more rodent like. It was quite odd, and let like more of a vehicle to address racism.
Horrible Imaginings terror-filled short film blocks continue on Saturday with “The Loved Ones Short Film Showcase” a block of eleven short films focusing on the horrors that can arise from our interpersonal relationships. Sometimes our families are not quite right. Sometimes we do the worst things for our friends. And nothing can compare to the horrors that come from the breakdown of parental responsibility. “The Loved Ones Short Film Showcase” will runfrom 1:15 to 3:15 p.m. on Saturday.
1:15 p.m.– “Eye Love You” Directed by Nikiel Suchit. (“A film about a boy’s love for his mother.”)
Animated film that felt like a cross between E. Gorey and something on Cartoon Network. It had a shockingly funny moment, and a slightly telegraphed ending. As with the others, it was still nice to see.
1:19 p.m.– “Filippa” Directed by Alexander Rönnberg. (“A dad comes home after work to find his daughter, who wants to play hide and seek. But is it really his daughter?”)
When does playing hide and seek go too far, and how do you know exactlywho you may be playing hide and seek with? An interesting mix of styles, from a type of ghost story, to something more psychologically dark. This was a wonderful film from Sweden from the same producer as last year’sAlena.
1:24 p.m.– “Stitched” Directed by Heather Taylor. (“A sheltered woman, reeling from the death of her mother, shows her sister how far she will go to be heard.”)
Right from the start this film gives the viewer a bad feeling that something is off. Unfortunately the title of the film gives away the “punch line,” especially given the performance of one of the actor’s. Had the title been different it’s possible the horror element might have had a greater impact.
1:28 p.m.– “Nasty” Directed by Prano Bailey-Bond. (“When his father mysteriously vanishes in 1982, twelve-year old Doug takes the case into his own hands, leading him to discover his Dad’s secret collection of illicit video nasties. Doug embarks on a desperate quest, infiltrating the strange world of video nasties in an attempt to reunite his family through a patchwork of horror.”)
Out of the gate this film harkens back to 70s and 80s VHS horror. It’s an odd film in that makes the case that such horror exploitation type films like that are actually bad. It could have served as a companion piece toBeyond The Gates.
1:43 p.m. – “The Honeymoon” Directed by Ruth Pickett. (“A newlywed Christian couple go on their honeymoon to what they believe to be a quaint B&B in the Welsh countryside, but which turns out to be a sex den.”)    Trailer    Imdb 
A very hilarious twist on theB&B theme. It’s very naughty and very mocking of puritanical lifestyles. The way it works on role playing is very comedic. Very little horror, but very heavy on British comedic humor.
1:56 p.m.– “A Father’s Day” Directed by Mat Johns. (“Unexpectedly reunited with his daughter amongst the ruins of the world as they knew it, a father is determined to make this day special, even if they are already dead.”
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Simple little short that says even zombies can love their children. It’s quite disgusting and rather tragic at the same time.
2:06 p.m.– “Born of Sin” Directed by William Boodell. (“A loving, though alcoholic, father leaves his eight-year-old daughter in their car while he enters a bar for a drink. Little do either of them know what awaits her.”)
Trailer     Imdb     Facebook
What works about this film is young actress Bella Anderson. For a child actor her performance in this film was most exciting. A weaker child actor might have ruined this because everything surrounds her performance. This short film wins because of Bella.
2:16 p.m.– “Your Date Is Here” Directed by Todd Spence. (“After dusting off an old Mystery Date-style board game, a mother and daughter realize the game holds more evil than amusement.”)
Games that contain evil are pretty popular these days, but this has to be the first time where the game Mystery Date has ever been the focus. This was a fun horror short with a delightful “jump-scare” to bring it all together.
2:23 p.m.– “Bride of Frankie” Directed by Devi Snively. (“In this darkly comedic feminist nod to Mary Shelley’s FRANKENSTEIN, a not-so-mad scientist builds a mate for her mentor’s lonely creation with electrifying, and deadly, results.”)
Humorous take on the Frankenstein story, even in black and white! The areas it addresses regarding monsters almost feels like something Mel Brooks might have written. Given the telegraphing in this short perhaps it should have ended up in a different film block. The short had plenty of sight gags. Still, it felt a little hollow.
2:42 p.m. – “Blood Sisters” Directed by Caitlin Koller. (“Amateur witchcraft conjures up bloody consequences.”)   Trailer    Imdb    Facebook
Another short film that shows that horror can be gross, violent, and terribly funny. The actresses were hilariously funny, and the short was incredibly original. Blood can be funny!
2:48 p.m. – “We Together” Directed by Henry Kaplan. (“A short film about a zombie who comes to remember the person who he used to be.”)   Trailer    Imdb    Facebook
 Despite the premise of this short film, it felt disjointed. The gags were shot in an overly comedic manner which take away from any intended humor. At times it feels like it’s trying to be the “anti-Thriller.” The repeated music track was irritating. Is the film trying to say that music is at the root of who we truly are, and will always be? If so the substance is being lost in the packaging.

3 DEAD TRICK OR TREATERS

FEATURE FILM SHOWCASE

Saturday’s third block of films showcases the feature film “3 Dead Trick or Treaters,” co-sponsored by the SD Underground Film Festival. “3 Dead Trick or Treaters” is a Samhain-themed anthology film that gives us tricks and treats – and does it without uttering a single word! An additional four short films themed to Halloween round out the block. “The 3 Dead Trick or Treaters Feature Film Showcase” will runfrom 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday.
3:30 p.m.– “Paul’s Bad Day” Directed by Phil Bucci. (“Paul wakes feeling not quite his usual self. As he begins his day, every step reveals he has a growing problem – for which there is only one solution.”)
The short starts off as a first person POV giving it an unusual take on what it means to be a zombie. Humorous, but somewhat tragic at the same time. It’s an excellent short film.
3:32 p.m. – “Evil Nature” Directed by Darin Beckstead. (“A man pitted against a genetically altered pumpkin must end the human-hungry melon before it ends him.”)    Imdb
It’s attack of the killer pumpkins! Hilarious!!! This is the second film in a row that shows brevity can create the strongest of short films.
3:35 p.m.– “Feeding Time” Directed by Matt Mercer. (“When a young woman fills in for her friend on a babysitting job, she begins to suspect things are not as they seem.”)
Delightfully creepy Halloween themed movie with Graham Skipper fromBeyond The Gates. It makes good fun of some messaging gags that are so based in reality. The short also plays on some classic suspense using the “all alone babysitter in the house meme.” It also plays on some of the cliché babysitter horror tropes. This also shows that many times you don’t have to answer the logical questions that may arise out of such a story. You are meant to merely “ride the ride!”
3:48 p.m.– “Smile” Directed by Chelsea Robinson. (“A suffocating relationship between a teenage girl and her doll escalates into something sinister on Halloween night when her boyfriend pays a visit.”)
The premise of this short wasn’t hard to figure out, but there is still the mild sense of your typical 80’s or 90’s horror about a killer doll. And yet, it turns the “killer doll” theme around to create a different sense of threat.
4:02 p.m.– “3 Dead Trick or Treaters” Directed by Torin Langen. (“A series of handwritten horror stories are found tacked to the headstones on the graves of three murdered trick or treaters. Penned by a deranged pulp author driven mad by his craft, the stories chronicle grisly tales of Halloween rites, rituals, and traditions.”) This film is co-sponsored by the SD Underground Film Festival.
Anthology movies can be pretty standard, with only the thinnest of threads to connect them, if at all. What this film does is quite unique, by giving a story to connect all of the stories. This once again shows that independent filmmakers can be quite creative in how they make their films. Not only do they look very professionally shot, but they will make use of unusual angles, close ups, pullbacks, and even how a subject is in focus while something else isn’t, to not only create a sense of mood, but also possibly even foreshadow a story without outright telegraphing it. If there was ever a reason to support such filmmakers, this movie most definitely exemplifies it.
Fondue shows that dialogue isn’t always necessary to tell your tale, and using only visuals to tell your story gives a different level of horror. It is visceral, as well as highly disturbing. Again, horror doesn’t have be rational. It can be utterly deranged and mad because of the primal part of the human psyche it taps in to.
Malleus Maleficarum is a truly artful segment that immediately differentiates itself fromFondue just starting with the beautiful classical guitar music.Here is another piece that is void of any dialogue, but in this case it helps to create a totally different sense of horror, and that is possibly of warped religion. Here the complete lack of dialogue actually leaves the viewer in a state of puzzlement. We are only given clues as what is going on, but without any initial clear answers, and by now the horror is so set in from the beginning that we are already happily along for the ride, and a disturbing one to say the least. Again, a whole new level of horror, especially in regards to certain expectations are placed on one of the main characters. It’s horrifying and even uncomfortable to watch, as it is meant to be. It doesn’t fully make sense. Then again, it doesn’t have to for it to communicate its own special brand of horror
By the time we get around to the third segment,Stash, we are already fully invested with this tense, horror filled ride we are on. Even as this final entry simply drops the viewer in what appears to be the middle of the story, the tension and strong sense of unease is already there. The director didn’t need to give us a beginning to start the emotionally charge ride of horror. We are already there and now he (the director) can manipulate the viewer any way he sees fit. Here we merely have two young adults who clearly appear to be up to no good, especially in the area of food. All we can see is that there is something very unhealthy going on. Is it junk food? Is there something else? We’re not sure. It’s as if the stories are increasing in their irrationality making the horror only worse.
Now we haveDelivery, which sees things from a different perspective, that being the officials who have to deliver the bad news of the death of a loved one. Here we see the true horror that police officers face. It’s a simple story, but again the lack of dialogue makes it so that we are focused solely on their faces and the emotion they convey at their own horror they are experiencing.
The film closes with what has happened to our young paper delivery man. The greatest horror is that we don’t actually see his final fate, rather it is merely suggested, leaving a suspended sense of horror.
This film is exhausting, but that is not a bad thing. Horror is all about taking the viewer on an emotional ride filled with unexpected turns, and due to the anthology nature of this film, we are given a multitude of such emotional twists and turns. It is also the opinion of this gay geek that this film needs to be watched without any distraction. Watch it either in a theater, or on a big screen TV with the lights off. You will find yourself pulled in and that is where you will remain until the final credits roll. Given the fact that the director (and also writer) is only 23 years old, and never went to film school, is beyond impressive to say the least. This is one VERY intense movie!
HORROR AUTHOR PANEL

HORROR LITERATURE SHOWCASE

The Horrible Imaginings Film Festival takes its name from “Macbeth,” in which it is posited that present fears are worse than “horrible imaginings.” Although film is its primary focus, the festival’s connection to horror in literature has always been present, with founder (and BPG!) Miguel Rodriguez always sneaking a writer or two into his discussion programs. This year is no exception. The Festival will feature a panel of some of the genre’s most thrilling authors, including Bram Stoker Award Winner Dennis Ecthison, who was asked by Stephen King to be the film consultant/historian for Danse Macabre. The panel will be followed by readings from the authors of selected short works.

LGBT FILM SPOTLIGHT

FEATURE AND SHORT FILM SHOWCASE

Saturday eveningcontinues with a block of short and feature films focusing on our horror films with an LGBTQ perspective. Expect a macabre and darkly funny thriller from the UK, along with a Gothic horror short.“The LGBT Film Spotlight” will runfrom 7:30 p.m. to 9:22 p.m. on Saturday. This showcase is sponsored by TG Geeks and co-presented by FilmOut San Diego.
7:30 p.m.– “Creatures of Whitechapel” Directed by Jonathan Martin. (“Jack the Ripper stalks the streets of London, searching for the perfect victims to help Dr. Frankenstein, her master, bring his Creation to life. However, rumors of Frankenstein’s nighttime activities are brewing, and Jack is tasked with one last foray into the bowels of Victorian London to find the last piece needed to bring Frankenstein’s mad vision to life. But what is life without love?”)
Trailer    Imdb    Facebook
This short is absolutely gorgeous. The colors and camera work are breathtakingly beautiful. However, it’s not just style over substance. The content of this short is amazing. The blending of story ideas, the ideal Shakespearean quality in the acting, along with its steampunk approach, makes this one of the best horror shorts in the entire festival.
7:55 p.m.– “B&B” Directed by Joe Ahearne. (“Marc and Fred return to bait the owner of a remote Christian B&B who they had successfully sued him for not allowing them to share a bed. Events take a deadly turn when another guest arrives, who they think might have something sinister in mind.”)
Trailer    Imdb    Facebook
Fantastic film, which we have already provided a review for on our website.

HAPPY HAUNTING

FEATURE FILM SHOWCASE

Saturday starts with the “Happy Hunting Feature Film Showcase,” which focuses on the feature film “Happy Hunting.” Enjoy a thrill-ride of survival horror that offers gorgeous photography and locations, wild characters, and stark satire to a tried-and-true concept. This block starts with a with a cartoon and a vicious new slasher short called “Rotary!” “The Happy Hunting Feature Film Showcase” will runfrom 9:30 p.m. to 11:35 p.m. on Saturday.
9:30 p.m.– “Layers of Fear” Directed by Hsin-Ying Liu. (“Layers of fear is a short animation that explores the boundary between the real world and dreams in the mind of a child as he’s experiencing a typical childhood trauma and how his dreams are influenced by it.”)
Animation was the perfect short to help illustrate the layers of nightmares children can have.The pictures that were drawn are quite strong.
9:34 p.m.– “Rotary” Directed by Lorenzo P. Adams. (“In 1968, a young babysitter’s evening is interrupted by strange and unsettling occurrences.”)
Once again we are back with the babysitter horror meme, but this time it’s a phone that is doing the menacing. Stalking by phone does have the means of being terrifying since there is a weird, faceless detachment to it all, and this short film helps to strengthen that fear with some of the best  camera angles. Without giving anything away, the film does a great job at being able to create some very strong scares without the use of too many jump scares. As far as short films go, there were moments where this film truly scared me.
9:45 p.m.– “Happy Hunting” Directed by Louie Gibson and Joe Dietsch. (“An alcoholic drifter must battle withdrawal and psychotic rednecks after he becomes the target of a deranged sporting event.”)
Something that is regularly seen in independent films is the unique way they tend to open their films. Most major studio movies have opening sequences by which the ease the viewer in. Perhaps it’s because independent filmmakers aren’t bound by convention, but whatever the case, they take storytelling risks that major studio filmmakers are afraid to take. It has a rather early body count from a variety of gun shot situations, but it’s all presented in a way that actually made the audience laugh. The film also makes use of the “small town in the middle of nowhere” theme, but successfully do it with a more surreal manner. The characterizations are also very interesting. While our lead character isn’t being portrayed as someone audiences can warm up to, he is still played with a certain resourcefulness that will make audiences root for him. It would be easy for a major studio to play him as the hero type, but here we have a movie that isn’t afraid to go against type, making our lead earn our support. The final clincher is that this movie telegraphs the ending, and then messes it all up and delivers probably the single greatest surprise ending ever. As far as horror movies go, this one is pure adventurousfun!

[Horror Houseparty.com]
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So we have no provided you with two days of horror movie content from the Horrible Imaginings Film Festival. Are there any films that have been mentioned that you are wanting to see? What about horror films in general? Has reading our coverage of the festival caused you to reconsider horror films in a more positive light?
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