Emilie Black at the Horrible Imaginings Film Festival San Diego


October 11th-13th 2014

For the last 5 years, San Diego has had the luck of getting a great horror film festival for 3 days every fall. This year’s was not exception. Horrible Imaginings is brought to San Diego by a madman and a movie lover known as Miguel Rodriguez. His passion for film is clear in every introduction he makes for the festival, every film or piece being given it’s proper attention and the public getting a class in cinema and cool nerdiness from the man. For those who go to Fantasia or are familiar with its own madman of movies, Miguel reminds one of Mitch Davis in passion and how they present movies with the utmost excitement. You can feel their love for the medium and for their chosen favorite genres.

Also part of the organizers of this lovely fest is Beth Accomando, the woman behind Killer Konfections who bring festival goers all kinds of goodies to snack one in between the blocks of movies and entertainment. This year had themes for each days. I was lucky enough to try the zombie brains and cupcakes, as well as the Cthulhu cookies. Also of note, a first at a festival for me, dinners were provided on Saturday and Sunday for all festival attendees, provided by Pizzeria Luigi, a very appreciated gesture.

Horrible Imaginings is genre festival that centers on horror and some sci-fi and for those who have never been, it also includes presentations such as dance and artwork, as well as a scientific explanation of the zombie brain by Bradley Voytek, author of Do Zombies Dream of Undead Sheep?: A Neuroscientific View of the Zombie Brain. This presentation was one of the highlights of the festival for me as it was instructive and very entertaining. Voytek clearly knows what he is talking about, being a Neuroscientist and horror fan. His presentation is something I wish I could see in its entirety someday.

As for the movies, plenty were shown including stellar shorts and full length films and not so stellar ones. However, as I like to go with the saying “If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all,” I will keep to the ones that were great. Also, it is to be noted that I was not able to attend the first 2 blocks on Friday and Saturday, as well as the last movie on Saturday and Sunday night (Call Girl of Cthulhu and Soumate, both of which I hope to see soon) having other engagements and a need for sleep at some point (yes I am one of the weak).

Friday at the fest was a very zombie affair. I caught the presentation for Do Zombies Dream of Undead Sheep?: A Neuroscientific View of the Zombie Brain, which as stated about was great fun and educational. Then, I caught a screening of Day of the Dead, which I had never had the luck of seeing on the big screen, so it was a pleasure to finally do so. The last screening of the night was the movie that ended up being named best feature length films by the public, Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead. A more thorough review of this one will be coming soon. Just know that is it tons of fun and really bloody/messy.

Saturday had a few different themes. I personally arrived just in time for Scott Paulson’s Teeny-Tiny Pit Orchestra, which presented an interactive way to watch and add music and sounds to a silent film. The pit orchestra is the crowd watching the movie, some members being given a variety of instruments. The base music being provided by two professionals and the extra noises and sounds coming from those who have been given an instruments to represent birds, people walking, etc. The film was Genuine: A Tale of a Vampire. This is a fun experience, but this seems to be dependent on who is given instruments. If this comes near you, go and try to be part of the musical accompaniment.

Other highlights of Saturday night were the short films, particularly Kira, Bad Company, Black Lullaby, and Dead Hearts, each for different reasons. Kira is a well crafted story of a woman who kills out of what she thinks is necessity, by the mind behind The Victorville Massacre, a movie I did not like at all when I first saw it, so I am glad to report that Kira is much, much better and potentially getting the full feature film treatment in the future. Bad Company is a student thesis film and is much better than that would lead one to believe. It has a fun slasher atmosphere and a pretty neat twist. Black Lullaby, I must admit was the one film I was looking forward to the most being a huge fan of photographer-turned-filmmaker Joshua Hoffine. This film is all about the visual and the creepy factor, and it delivers very well. Dead Hearts is a short about a kid with an interest in death who grows up in a mortuary. It is fun and more than a little reminiscent of early Tim Burton. Saturday ended with more screenings but I had to skip on them to be able to function the next day. Call this reviewer a wimp if you will, getting old is no joke.

Sunday was a day for short films for me as I skip the second screening of Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead. My day started with a shorts block out of which the films Ruleta and Stasis stood out. Ruleta is about a game of Russian Roulette on a train that goes bit weirder than usual and Stasis is a stop-motion animation film about the rebirth of a woman in a type of human factory. This one is one to seek out if only for its visuals and stunning imagery. The first shorts block was followed by a screening of the anthology HI-8 which is something most other attendees adored, but I found to be unimpressive and fairly sleep-inducing. It seemed to have its heart in the right place but failed at the intended goal it had, which was unclear at best.

The second block of shorts had more stand out films than the early one. To me the shorts Case of Evil, The Tour and Alexia were the strongest of this bunch. Case of Evil had its own Q&A and it was clear that the whole cast and crew were very dedicated to making a great film set in a bygone era. The short is a great example of a period piece done right. It feels and looks like a movie from the old black & white horror period. The Tour is another short that is possibly going to get the full feature length treatment.

It is a ghost story which could easily fall into the tired and overused clichés, but is genuinely scary in spots and should lend itself to a longer story easily. Alexia was another ghost story but this one set in basically one room, with a computer screen, something every one stares at more than they should each day. It is minimalistic and very effective, giving a few scare theatrical releases should be jealous of. The day ended for me at Horrible Imaginings on a dance performance by Anna Yanushkevich and Marena Bronson. This is one piece that is hard to describe but definitely deserved to be seen. These dancers are very talented.

Horrible Imaginings was a fun event and I highly recommend getting yourself some tickets early for next year by keeping an eye on their Facebook page where they will announced the dates for next year’s edition and when the tickets go on sale.

In the meantime, check out the winners of this years competition.