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Cinema Junkie Podcast 202: The Role Of Horror In A Scary World

Horrible Imaginings Film Festival goes online to showcase horror and genre films

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"Hammurabi" is a short film that gives a twist to the standard revenge tale by having a mute protagonist who needs a translator to convey a message to her victim.

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As the real world feels scarier each day with a pandemic in full swing, police brutality and people just behaving badly filling social media, and a president fanning the flames ... Read more →

Aired: September 2, 2020 | Transcript

Horrible Imaginings Film Festival's Miguel Rodriguez discusses the role of horror in a scary world.

Rodriguez has been running Horrible Imaginings for more than a decade now. Each year themes emerge that reflect the current state of the world and this year filmmakers seemed to conclude that the source of horror is a lot less about immediate bodily harm or running away from a killer and more about ill-defined dread and not know what is real.

That said, there are also a fair share of slasher films, monster movies and good old-fashioned ghost stories.

Ten years ago, I saw post on social media or a meet up group, I can’t remember which, but it was someone new to San Diego who had this idea of starting a horror film festival and he wanted to know if anyone would be willing to help. As a fan of horror, I said sure. That person was Miguel Rodriguez and his dream project became Horrible Imaginings Film Festival.

As one of this year's juror for festival awards, I saw close to 30 hours of films. I was impressed by both the diversity of styles and by the diversity of the filmmakers themselves. My two favorite features come from opposite ends of the artistic spectrum. "Luz: Flower of Evil" is a slow burn, gorgeously shot tale a severely dysfunctional family from Colombia. Then there is what's being billed as Panama's first horror film "Diablo Rojo PTY," a low-budget, wildly over-the-top tale of witches and monsters rooted in folklore with a measure of Catholicism thrown in for good measure. "Luz" impresses with its artistry while "Diablo" endears itself with its passion to make a film with limited resources.

As for the shorts, "Milk Teeth" is my favorite with its Guillermo del Toro sensibility, creepy monster, and cringe-inducing moments. I also loved the clever ingenuity of "RING," which told its story through a security camera; "Night Crawl," which delivered a tense prison drama with a horror twist; "The Last Day of Spicy Jack," which was just off the rails wacky; and two wildly different but equally seductive animated tales, "Lenses" and "Malakout."

Check out my full list of recommendations below.

Beth's Top Picks


"Luz: Flower of Evil"

"Diablo Rojo PTY"


"Milk Teeth"

"Night Crawl"




"Optic Nerve"


"The Last Days of Spicy Jack"


"I Confess"


"Everything's Fine"



"Jeff Drives"



"Unholy 'Mole"

"Snakes Eyes"

"Smile for me"

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Photo of Beth Accomando

Beth Accomando
Arts & Culture Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI cover arts and culture, from Comic-Con to opera, from pop entertainment to fine art, from zombies to Shakespeare. I am interested in going behind the scenes to explore the creative process; seeing how pop culture reflects social issues; and providing a context for art and entertainment.

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