Horrible Imaginings Film Fest Preview
Cinema Junkie / September 2, 2016
Something wicked this way comes! It is time for the seventh annual Horrible Imaginings Film Festival, which runs Sept. 7 through 11 at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park.
Beth Accomando: Welcome back to another edition of the KPBS Cinema Junkie podcast. I’m Beth Accomando. And it’s never too early to start celebrating Halloween or to ring in the season of fear. And we’re going to do that on today’s podcast because we’re going to be focusing on Horrible Imaginings Film Festival, which is entering its seventh year. For full disclosure, I need to say that I have been working with Miguel Rodriguez on the festival since it started in various capacities on selection committee, catering food for receptions, on the jury for picking films. And that the reason for that is because as with Miguel, I have a passion for horror and I want to bring it to San Diego. And I want to make sure that good horror films make it here.
So, Miguel, we are in the seventh year of Horrible Imaginings, how does that feel?
Miguel Rodriguez: Yes, seventh year. It feels kind of amazing actually that I’m still alive and it’s still alive and we’re doing it and it’s getting bigger, I hope.
Beth Accomando: Oh, remind people where this started and how far you have come on a certain level?
Miguel Rodriguez: Well, it started at 10th Avenue, what is now called the 10th Avenue Arts Center in East Village here in San Diego, which is a very DIY space. It’s a great building and they still do some really excellent stuff. In fact, we will be doing an art show there in October. So, I still work with them. But certainly going from there and then going from the Digital Gym Cinema where we still program stuff to the Museum of Photographic Arts. I mean it’s definitely a trajectory that is a pretty sharp incline still at this point. In fact, not just where it is and the number of press outlets who are starting to cover us, but how long it is. We’ve expanded from three days to five. So, I’m hoping to keep this momentum going as we move forward.
Beth Accomando: And how does it feel to bring a horror film festival to a museum setting because horror, as we’ve discussed this before, horror sometimes does not get the respect that it deserves. So, how does it feel to have this festival running in a museum?
Miguel Rodriguez: It feels fantastic and in fact I still remember last year when filmmaker Steven Martin and his wife Lola came to the festival surprising me, actually I didn’t know they were coming. But they told me, the first thing they said was, we thought we were in the wrong place. This is so nice because it’s one of the most beautiful areas of San Diego. It is in a kind of academic setting, in a very scholarly setting and MOPA or the Museum of Photographic Arts wastes no breath in reminding me that it is indeed a museum over and over again. But I think last year they may have had some jitters about what to expect from us. But after the close – I mean last year was quite successful and after closing of the last day, I think we’ve relieved a lot of those jitters and they’ve given me greater freedom for the things I want to do this year. So, not only have I gotten MOPA a little more involved in the festival but now we have some other parts of Balboa Park who are opening themselves up to us like Museum of Man who are going to be participating in a certain capacity as well.
Beth Accomando: And also remind people what your mission statement is because it’s not just like we want to show horror films that are what you would find in a mall theater. What is your goal in trying to program the films for this? What kind of things are you looking for to highlight about horror?
Miguel Rodriguez: As far as the mission statement goes, it is really to spotlight new voices of course, but it’s also to expand what we think of as the horror genre to the point where maybe it isn’t all just horror. I have to relinquish some of my own feelings toward general expectations. I think I’m learning, but at the same time I want to expand it to things that would be of interest to horror fans, but also maybe kind of defy the expectations of the general public as well. I would love for some people who don’t normally go to a horror film festival to find something interesting in our festival whether it’s from the films, from the literature track and from some of the other stuff we do. But really from the films, I think even someone who is willing to crack open a Stephen King book still feels like horror films are not worth their time. And I’m looking to change that a little bit with some interesting content, great ideas, sharing of ideas, conversations and that kind of thing.
So, it’s really to talk about the horror genre more and to remember kind of where it comes from because I always like to think of these movies as existing on a timeline in human storytelling history. And they all have roots in romantic era literature and morality plays of the medieval times and classic Greek tragedy and all these kind of macabre ideas that thread their way through our storytelling history end up now where we are in cinema and kind of I want to look at all of that.
Beth Accomando: And in the seven years you’ve been running the festival, how have you seen horror changed in cinema? Do you feel like you’re getting more submissions? Do you feel there is more diversity that’s coming through? Or do you feel that we’re in a rut? How has it been in those seven years and where do you feel you’re at in terms of the kind of submissions you’re getting?
Miguel Rodriguez: Huge boom in submissions, that’s for sure. So, the trajectory is another thing and the number of submissions we get is rising. It’s from a greater variety of countries. We’re showing a film from Slovenia. We have a short film from Kosovo. We’ve got films from other countries that we haven’t shown from before. And I think people are expecting certainly from what we’re doing. There’s definitely some word getting out that we do more than just slashers in the woods. There’s a lot of variety and a lot of eclecticism in our programming. And I think that we’re developing at least among the horror community. We’re developing a bit of a reputation for giving a chance to something that maybe wouldn’t have considered submitting to a horror film festival before.
That said though, I still find myself talking to people who made a thriller or a suspense film that I would certainly consider but who would not have submitted because they didn’t think it was “horror” even though I think suspense, thriller and horror are all part - they’re all leaves off of the same bough. So, I still wrestle with that a little bit but certainly I think some things are changing. And I think that I don’t know, we certainly can’t take any credit for this. But in recent years there have been, from the genre, some more kind of genre films that get outside of the box a little bit, like one thing I’m thinking of in particular is this film called Nina Forever which we showed at Digital Gym Cinema, which is a little more of a dark romance but certainly has aspects of horror that would fit nicely. So, I think there are some efforts to break out of the boundaries a little bit which I think is cool.
Beth Accomando: All right, so your festival is coming up September 7th. It’s running September 7th through the 11th at the Museum of Photographic Arts.
Miguel Rodriguez: Hmm-hmm
Beth Accomando: And I thought what we could do is kind of walk through the schedule starting on Wednesday night and kind of go through some of the films hopefully to pique some people’s interest about what’s playing. And also to give a sense of the diversity that’s there. So, Wednesday night, it’s kicking off with an animated shorts block. So, what are you looking for in these animated films, because with the animation there’s always this sense of are you looking for outstanding animation or are you looking for a really well told story that just happens to be animated?
Miguel Rodriguez: I’m immediately engaged by animations. So, I’m a little bit biased. I really like animated short films and feature films. I wish we got more animated features submitted to us which would be; one, I do really like animated things. I do want to say I hadn’t intended on kicking off the festival with the animated block or short films, but I just kind of fell in love with this idea of having, in the old days you could go to a movie and it would start with an animated short like a Bugs Bunny sort or something. And so, I had this idea of that but starting off of festival with a block of shorts and having the festival start with cartoons.
We’ve always done animation in some capacity, but we never really had a ton submitted. Last year, we had a lot submitted. So, that was the first year that we did a whole block dedicated to animation. This year was the same way. And as far as when it comes to what we’re looking for with animation, it’s hard to say. I think each animated film kind of has to have a little something that sparks it. Now, they tend to be a little bit shorter. So, there can be some wiggle room there in terms of what we’ll consider. But sometimes a film will get in that I think thematically maybe doesn’t quite fit but there’s something about it that I just adore. And one film I’m thinking of in particular is this film called The Beach Boy which is a Vietnamese folktale.
(Clip: Many of Vietnam’s most beautiful legends are about love. The Beach Boy is the most enchanting of them all, for it is a tale that goes beyond love.)
It has some harrowing little moments but it’s certainly not horror as people would traditionally think. But the style of animation is it’s made to look like traditional Vietnamese brushstrokes and I love folktales to begin with. So, I decided to throw that in just because it’s both beautiful and interesting and I don’t care what people think.
But that being said there is definitely some more horror-based things in there. There’s another one called Balloon Ride where the animation – to answer your question, the animation’s a little bit choppy. It could use some smoothing but the story while not fully flushed out is quite dark and a little bit poignant and it’s about domestic abuse and it’s not something one would normally expect from a cute claymation short film. And then there’s another one from Spain called Travel By Feet.
Just a joy, I don’t want to say that I have any biases toward one film over another but that one has everything. It’s beautifully animated. It’s got a great story, a huge sense of comedic timing, some great horror elements as well. And I think people are really going to love Travel By Feet in the animated section.
Beth Accomando: That was one of my favorites as well. And there are some gorgeous images in that.
Miguel Rodriguez: Beautiful, beautiful stuff.
Beth Accomando: Really cinematic within an animated realm.
Miguel Rodriguez: I’m jealous because, well, I’ll probably get into theater at some point. The people who will be seeing it at the festival are going to see it on the MOPA screen for the first time, and when I saw it, it was on my computer with headphones on and I am a little bit jealous because it’s going to look amazing.
Beth Accomando: And you also have some stop motion animation?
Miguel Rodriguez: Yes, there is an animated one called The Marshals which is certainly very Tim Burton esque in its style. That’s a stop motion. The one I mentioned before Balloon Ride is also a stop motion animation.
Beth Accomando: And there’s puppetry.
Miguel Rodriguez: Oh God! Yes, yes. We have a puppet short from Australia called The Detectives of Noir Town. And it’s very brief, short, but it’s a lot of fun. And one thing it reminds me of a little bit is kind of Who Framed Roger Rabbit because in that film you’ve got Bob Hoskins and there is a Toontown where the cartoons live.
Well, in Detectives of Noir Town there’s Noir Town where the puppet Noir people live. And it’s got all the hard-boiled kind of troops in there and great fun, but awesome puppet work. They made all those puppets and I can’t wait to show that one too.
Beth Accomando: Let’s hear a little bit from Detectives of Noir Town.
(Clip: It was late Saturday night and I was called out to a crime scene with a twist. My name, well it’s – what the hell.
No, you don’t, this is my case.
It was late Saturday night…
No, it was early Sunday morning. It was so late. It was early. This place is Noir Town.
Out of my way, buying humans?
It’s a puppet town. It’s my town.
Do you want a good time, honey?
You cheap guy.
No, the streets don’t cheep-- oh yeah, there was murder in the edge of night.)
Beth Accomando: That was Detectives of Noir Town that is playing Wednesday night in the opening shorts block. And following that is a film which on a certain level you could say is almost as animated as some of these shorts which is Sion Sono’s new film Tag. This is representative of extreme Japanese cinema.
[Clip – Japanese]
Beth Accomando: This kicks off the festival in a wild and crazy kind of manner.
Miguel Rodriguez: I cut the trailer for it which just basically took a bunch of clips from the films and put them together in a hopefully engaging way. Just like we’re starting the festival with Tag, I started the trailer with Tag and now that trailer has gotten something like 50,000 views on Facebook and I think a big part of it is, it opens really big with a shot from Tag.
Tag is a really crazy movie and it’s based off of a Japanese novel and it’s not the first adaptation of it. But it’s certainly, I think your description of it being animated is quite apt because it’s very much like one of those wild animated films like Gantz or something for any listeners who might know what that is. But in live action form and - does not adhere to any kind of linear storytelling rules, things. The same actor will play different characters. It’s very dreamlike but also really hyper violent in a cartoonish way. But I also think it in its own way saying a lot about how we, Japanese society in particular probably deals with images of the female form particularly the whole Japanese schoolgirl mythos and how kind of ridiculous it can be and this film really makes it ridiculous. It has all these schoolgirls getting…
Beth Accomando: Massacred.
Miguel Rodriguez: I don’t know how to explain this film except that Sion Sono is an auteur who seems like he can do anything whether it’s something really dark like Suicide Club or something satirical but also very dark like Cold Fish, and even something a little more intense like Guilty of Romance. It’s amazing that he’ll make Tag after films like Cold Fish and Guilty of Romance because it’s just so wildly different yet has the Sono mark. And it’s a California premiere for this film. So, I’m really excited to be the first to bring here. I’m really shocked it’s a California premiere. But it is so, yes, go us.
Beth Accomando: And to start the festival with this as the first feature film, do you have any concerns about people coming to the festival for the first time, because if you are not familiar with Japanese extreme cinema, it does push the envelope in ways that American films have not even begun.
Miguel Rodriguez: Yes.
Beth Accomando: Scared to try and it does so in not just in terms being graphic but also just in terms of the ideas that it tackles. Did you have any concern making this the opening night film in terms of how somebody might walk in to see this as the first film and go, I don’t know if I can take this for five days, or did you want to kind of jolt people and say like.
Miguel Rodriguez: I definitely wanted to jolt people. I wanted to start with a bang. That being said, you can show anything, I’m coming to learn as long as you introduce it right and you kind of lead people and – I don’t want to say holding their hands - but lead people in with contexts, lead people in with some idea of why you’re showing it and also with the notion that, we’re starting big and I have to also say that none of the other films are really going to be like this one. Everything’s quite different and if anything I am more concerned that we’re starting off with such a splash and people might expect all the films to be like that, want them all to be like that. But they’re all going to be kind of different. And we have some documentaries in there. I did want to end with a splash too. So, I tried to kind of bookend the film festival with a heavy, wild, ridiculous opening and a potentially even more ridiculous ending.
Beth Accomando: Well, we’ll work our way towards that ending.
Miguel Rodriguez: Yes.
Beth Accomando: And I think the thing for me that’s always fascinated me about this kind of extreme Japanese cinema is that the type of violence that it deals with. I feel it really reflects a very particular thing about Japanese culture and it’s this sense. I’ve always found that violence in Asian films differs from country to country. Hong Kong films are all about this kind of wild style and flair. It’s this cosmopolitan city that was making its mark.
Miguel Rodriguez: The violence is like a dance.
Beth Accomando: Yes. And in Korea, it’s always painful because you always feel like there’s this sense of betrayal and people being torn apart and loyalties being divided and this is a country that was divided. So, I feel like the countries all have a different particular tone of violence. And in Japan, it seems to be this you’ve got this polite society and these films just need to rebel against that.
Miguel Rodriguez: Yes, it’s something I have called before a mousetrap effect where things are held in tension in one end of the spectrum for so long that any bit of release is not a gradual release, it’s a snap. And that’s certainly evident in Tag as well as lots of other films like the films of Takashi Miike and some of his ilk or any number of animated films like Elfen Lied where, it opens up with a female figure going through a hospital and just using her mind to make bodies explode left and right. It’s such an amazing opening. Very similar in the gut-punch to how Tag opens up actually.
But you’re right. I think that the violence in Tag is a lot like the violence in say Dead or Alive where it’s not grounded in reality so much. It’s definitely more exuberant and more of a fantastical kind of violence. But that’s not to say that it doesn’t have, somehow they are able to marry the fantastic violence with their sociopolitical context pretty well. I don’t think we’ve seen it.
Beth Accomando: It is an oddly feminist film.
Miguel Rodriguez: It’s a really feminist film. I mean when I saw it I thought that and now it’s like, I might be insane, but I went and I read the variety review and they saw the same kind of thing. I’ve talked to other people. It’s like, yes, you know what it really is, because ultimately we’re not rooting for the obnoxious Japanese schoolgirl to explode, we’re rooting for her to find out what’s going on against basically the worlds against her. She starts off from a place of disadvantage and they just really exaggerate that advantage to the nth degree.
Beth Accomando: On Thursday, let’s move to Thursday. We are going from one Asian country to another and from a wild eccentric action, I don’t even know what to call Tag.
Miguel Rodriguez: Tag.
Beth Accomando: But we’re moving from that to a documentary which is The Last Pinoy Action King. This kind of pushes a little bit on your definition of being a horror festival. So, explain why you decided to program this when it’s not quite a horror film?
Miguel Rodriguez: This one I have no excuses whatsoever. It’s not in the list of horror at all, it’s action. I do think that there is a lot of crossover between horror fans and action fans, at least I have that crossover. So again, I’m happy showing what I want to show, not really what…
Beth Accomando: It is your festival.
Miguel Rodriguez: It’s my festival, damn it. No, there are a couple of ways I went about justifying this one. First of all, Horrible Imaginings did a whole US tour almost two years ago that we’re very proud of for a documentary called The Search for Weng Weng. And this documentary is about a Filipino action star similar to the one we’re showing this year, except that in Weng Weng, in that documentary for those who are listening and don’t know, was a 2’9” character actor who played in a couple of James Bond rip-off films like For Your Eyes Only. He was 003 and a half, that kind of thing. They’re very exploitive of the fact that he’s this little person. But the documentary is beautiful in that literally it’s called The Search for Weng Weng and that’s what it was. They go like what happened this guy.
(Clip: Don’t you worry, Mr. Weng. I will not kill you right away. I have to learn so many secrets in your small little brain.
Man: I wanted to know Weng Weng’s story. His real name for starters.
Man: Trying to find out where he came from and what happened to him.
Man: I had a strong feeling the only way I would ever learn the truth about Weng Weng was to go to the Philippines with a big shovel and start digging through the rubble of 30 plus years of forgotten pop culture.)
Miguel Rodriguez: And they go in and it takes some very startling turns and I really love that documentary. The same filmmakers made this one. And so, partially one of my justifications is I’m working with them again. Another justification I had was I did last year a full year called Delirio and this really would have fit more in the Delirio series except that Delirio showed the films this was about rather than the documentary. Delirio was just wild and crazy world cinema, Z grade, a lot of times unsung world cinema that didn’t really reach much audiences beyond the borders of the countries they came from. And so, this would fit with there.
Also another justification is, for myself as a horror fan, I grew up in the age of home video as a lot of us did and when you went to the video store in the ‘80s before blockbuster kind of…
Beth Accomando: Mainstream.
Miguel Rodriguez: Mainstream, yes. There was always a section called – what I remember from growing up, there was a section called the cult section. And the cult section could have so many different things. It would be things like Eraserhead to Once Upon a Time in China to Braindead or Dead Alive. It was all over the place and I remember really loving that. And that’s where I saw my most interesting horror films like all the faulty stuff was always in the cult section and Possession was in the cult section and things like that. And there were things like these, weird movies, I think I heard of Weng Weng because of that too. And this is me showing this documentary is a love letter to that cult section because ultimately that’s kind of what this is.
So, The Last Pinoy Action King is a little bit different from The Search for Weng Weng. It’s a much more conventional documentary, much more kind of like talking to the family of its subject. The focus is on an actor named Rudy Fernandez also known as ‘The Boy’.
(Clip – Spanish
Man: Rudy Fernandez, now a name but soon a legend.
Man: The blessing of The Boy was to become an actor, a producer.
Man: People have the heart for underdogs.)
Miguel Rodriguez: He starred in quite a number of ruckus action films from the Philippines. And some really wild stuff, martial arts films and crime films, and this is just kind of a look at who he was, who his family was, what some of the films were. But mostly what I want to do with programming this documentary is let people know who that guy was. That’s it, the end.
I think he deserves to have his name out. I’m glad they made the documentary because of that reason. Hopefully, we’ll be able to find some of the movies that they talk about in the documentary. I asked Andrew, one of the co-directors of the documentaries, in fact, for anyone who goes to the festival, we have a program magazine and it’s going to have lots of interviews and Andrew Leavold, the co-director, is one of the interviewees. And the last thing I asked him is like, well, where can we see these movies? And he gave some answers but a lot of it is kind of what I expected. Most of them are lost and what aren’t lost exist in pretty shoddy quality and almost universally without subtitles. So, not that you necessarily need subtitles but for anyone who wants to seek the movies out, you’re going to have a good fun search ahead of you.
Beth Accomando: Well, action cinema has a universal language.
Miguel Rodriguez: Like horror. Yes, indeed. You know what that’s my other justification.
Beth Accomando: And you’re following this documentary with a comedy shorts block which I think contains one of my favorite films.
Miguel Rodriguez: Oh, my gosh.
Beth Accomando: From his year’s festival. In fact, two of my favorite films both involve bears in very different way. And not in the horror way you might necessarily expect. These shorts block will have Watch Bear which is one of the films that I do say I loved from this. Talk a little bit about the diversity of the shorts block because they span a wide spectrum in tone and style.
Miguel Rodriguez: Yes, it’s really kind of difficult to program these. And I guess, I don’t know – I think I actually had this conversation with you where programming this film, especially the shorts blocks, but the film festival in general was like making a mixed tape in a cassette.
Beth Accomando: Yes.
Miguel Rodriguez: And you really want to have it make sense but have enough variety that it keeps it interesting. But I do like to thematically group them so we can kind of explore the themes as well. For the horror comedy block, it was interesting because some of the other films that we play throughout the festival could also have fit in there, like the other bear movie that I’m sure you want to talk about would have fit perfectly.
Beth Accomando: Yes.
Miguel Rodriguez: But for one reason or another, it got placed somewhere else. We’ll discuss that when we get to it. It’s kind of nice that you bring up Watch Bear for two reasons. One, it’s one of our San Diego local spotlights. And then we will have the filmmaker Caesar there as I think some other people to be present and talk about it. But also it is a student film. So, it was both student and local and really charming. Yes, so I think people will really enjoy that. Gosh, what do you say about it? Nothing, I want people to see it.
Beth Accomando: Let’s hear just the setup for this film.
(Clip - Lady: I’m sorry Chase. I wasn’t able to fix your nightlight.
Chase: But, what about the monsters?
Lady: There’s no such thing as monsters. It’s just in your imagination.
Chase: There’s monsters, I’ve seen them.
Lady: See, nothing to be afraid of.
Chase: Can I sleep with the light on?
Lady: Puddy, if you sleep with the light on you won’t get any rest. I think I have something that might help. When I was about your age, I didn’t have a nightlight but I did have this. His name is Ted-e-Bear. He’s going to keep you safe at night.)
Beth Accomando: You know that by itself that may not wet your appetite but I just want to say that the payoff in this is fabulous. It was one of my favorite ones and I laughed so hard watching it. We have zombies re-animating for your comedy block.
Miguel Rodriguez: I feel like the zombie thing, a lot of people are taking zombies and going comedy with them. And last year I see a lot of these and a lot didn’t make it in. I don’t know if it’s because they’re just looking for something fresh with zombies or what it is, but there’s a lot of goofy comedies with zombies out there.
Beth Accomando: It’s because zombies are so endearing.
Miguel Rodriguez: They can be, yes for sure. So yes, we have a couple - I don’t know if you’re talking about Zombie Playground or…
Beth Accomando: Zombie Next Door, I think…
Miguel Rodriguez: A Zombie Next Door
Beth Accomando: …has the more endearing kind of Bob like zombies.
Miguel Rodriguez: Yes, and I think one of the names is Bob.
Beth Accomando: Yes, I think so.
Miguel Rodriguez: Well, what’s nice about A Zombie Next Door, it’s like a Christopher Guest documentary or mockumentary I should say kind of, like Best in Show or Waiting for Guffman or something like that. They really go for that kind of style of humor and a lot of times they get there.
(Clip – Female: I know… can I guess? I know, I know, get back, come on, get back, get back… hurry up.
Female: Here you go. Okay, I am going to put…
Female: Right there, honey.
Female: I’m giving him a cow brain.
Female: He loves something. Look at him go, look at him go, look at him go. And you know what, he’s called the private eater. Watch, look, look. Bob, Bob. See he doesn’t want to show me.
Female: Okay, I got a special treat now. Lucky, lucky. Baby back. Wait…
Female: Bob, Bob.
Female: Baby back. Look at him go. Look at him fall. Baby back. Okay sit. Good boy.
Female: Come on, look at him go. Look at that.
Female: You should never touch your zombie when they’re reading because, they’ll take you finger off.
Female: But watch, he lets me touch him, right?
Female: Look, look at him, look at him, look.
Female: Oh, his breath, I smell that the clothes could...
Female: It makes my eyes water.)
Miguel Rodriguez: I think it’s a lot of fun. It’s co-directed by Frank Dietz and Trish Geiger both of whom we’ve had down in San Diego before. The last time was for an awesome documentary they made called Beast Wishes about Bob and Kathy Burns which we really, really love them for that. So I’m glad to have them. They’ll be here to talk about Zombie Next Door.
You’re right, I think, with that one, what’s nice is it interviews people who keep zombies as pets and, you know the government limits how many pets you can have and so they have to get rid of some other zombies and it kind of documents the sad farewells that they have to go through. But they talk about how they take care of the zombies and there are some really charming moments in there. Particularly the Bob zombie that you mentioned is a lot of fun.
Beth Accomando: A Zombie Next Door is going to be playing as part of the comedy shorts block on Thursday. This is actually I think a really good block for people who may feel a little hesitant about coming to horror. Who may feel like, I don’t know if I can take it. I don’t know if I can go to that dark place. These films have a nice mix of, some of them are a little disturbing, some of them are a little gruesome and violent. But they all are kind of I’ll say redeemed by the humor in the sense that if you are a little gun-shy of horror that kind of softens the blow.
Miguel Rodriguez: This was an interesting block for me because I was wondering where to put it. And Thursday was my documentary night called the Documentary of Cult from Kings because they both have king in the title. But I wanted something to balance out the somewhat dryness of a two documentary in one night. I thought the comedy block would be perfect for that. Particularly I think when you talk about the lightness of the comedy sometimes it’s pooh, pooh humor.
Beth Accomando: Party humor, yes.
Miguel Rodriguez: There’s a film I want to just mention called Stained which is from the UK. The writer and director are flying here all the way from the UK to talk about this movie. The selection community guy who actually first watched and put notes for me said, I guess this is what you’d call British doo, doo humor.
(Clip - Male: No. Good God. No.
Zombie: Harris, where are you going, Harris?
Harris: I’m sorry. I was just…
Zombie: You are clean, Harris. You haven’t wiped.
Harris: I know but I’m going to clean it up. It’s just I’ve run out of paper.
Zombie: Yeah, you’re very forgetful, Harris. What else have you forgotten?
Harris: Just the paper.)
Miguel Rodriguez: But there’re some great stories about some of our judges watching this one who may remain unnamed.
Beth Accomando: We will not name names but it certainly grossed out one person. And this is not your first British doo, doo humor.
Miguel Rodriguez: No, it’s not. In fact, last year we had a British short film called Potty Mouth which is so similar. Well, it’s not. It’s actually completely different in terms of like what happens but it is another British doo, doo humor which is funny made by completely different people. And there’s another one not British called The Procedure which I cannot wait to show, I can’t.
Beth Accomando: I don’t want to say anything except for the fact that is a bizarre little film that knows – few films know exactly how long to run their gag. So, many films drag things out. This was quick in, quick out.
Miguel Rodriguez: It’s two minutes long.
Beth Accomando: Two minutes long, perfectly timed, hilarious. And that ends your comedy block, ends it in a very appropriate manner, I will say.
Miguel Rodriguez: Yes, there was not even a hesitation of where I was going to put that one. That’s a capper.
Beth Accomando: That will send people out into the lobby feeling quite good. And the comedy block will be followed by Q&A because you are going to have some of the filmmakers there. Then you also have another short film that night, how do you say Gemu?
Miguel Rodriguez: Gemu.
Beth Accomando: Gemu?
Miguel Rodriguez: Yes, it’s actually Gem but because it’s Japanese it’s Gemu. I don’t know if it’s a student film or if it’s the first film they made after graduating. It’s a Japanese giant monster sort.
Miguel Rodriguez: It’s 30 minutes, so it’s a little bit long for a short. But it’s got some exciting things about it. First of all, the cinematographer actually worked as an apprentice with some of the special effects artists on the actual Toho Godzilla films like Tokyo S.O.S. from the Millennium series. So, we’re really excited - I’m just excited about that as a Godzilla fan. Gosh, what else can I say? It’s a Japanese Tokusatsu Film. I can’t wait, I mean, they had me at that.
Beth Accomando: Well, and it’s the perfect lead into the closing, I mean that closing night’s documentary which is Hail to the King: 60 Years of Destruction and this is a documentary about a love for Godzilla.
Miguel Rodriguez: That’s pretty much saying it exactly right. Hail to the King is only an hour, so I was so excited to have Gemu at that timeline because it’s basically a perfect block to have the short film and a very short documentary. And yeah, love for Godzilla was right, it was the 60th anniversary. There’s a podcast called Kaijucast and they raised the money to go to Japan and basically talk Godzilla for a while.
(Kaijucast: My name is Kyle and I am a Godzilla fan. I love nothing more than watching giant monsters duking it out and smashing buildings to rubble generally terrorizing the cities of Japan. For myself and a lot of my fellow fans, Kaiju movies are more than just cinematic entertainment, they are an obsession. This obsession nudged me into starting a podcast about giant rubber monsters. And it’s mostly thanks to this podcast’s audience that I can make this documentary.
This year marks the 60th birthday of Japan’s most well-known Kaiju: The King of the Monsters, but we all know him best as Godzilla. In addition to enjoying the hell out of these films, I have long been fascinated by the arduous process that Godzilla’s filmmakers have had to endure to bring this monster to life; the suits, the miniatures, the effects, and the personalities involved. But one aspect of the genre I have never had the opportunity to dive into how do the Japanese perceive Godzilla? It’s been 10 years since Japan made a Godzilla movie. Do they think there’s a place for traditional and practical special effects in today’s movie landscape? For these answers, I knew where I had to go, a little place called Tokyo, Japan.)
Miguel Rodriguez: What I do like about the documentary is it is very fan-love documentary for sure. And they managed to get some amazing interviews with some of the classic shows of-- Godzilla actors from Toho. And the original contract actors from Toho Studios. They talked to a lot of special effects artists. They managed to make it to Toho Studio. So, getting to see those people for anyone who’s a Godzilla fan, it’s pretty cool.
Beth Accomando: I was a little jealous that they come up with an excuse to send themselves over to Japan to make a documentary to talk to all these people that they were such fans of.
Miguel Rodriguez: I would be lying if I didn’t feel the same envy, yeah.
Beth Accomando: Yes.
Miguel Rodriguez: And it’s damn you, Kyle.
Beth Accomando: So, moving on to Friday.
Miguel Rodriguez: Hmm-hmm
Beth Accomando: You have an interesting program on Friday because it goes a little bit off the beaten path of a conventional film festival. You are doing something dealing with cannibals to tie into the museum of man’s cannibal exhibit.
Miguel Rodriguez: Oh boy, when I heard they had the cannibal exhibit coming, I actually have been kicking myself that we never did anything with the instruments of torture exhibit they had before this one. So, I had to make up for it. I was able to actually go to the opening of Cannibals: Myth & Reality exhibit at the Museum of Man and talked to their - who at the time was their exhibit director and curator, Dr. Emily Anderson.
Beth Accomando: She is marvelous.
Miguel Rodriguez: She is. She’s fantastic.
Beth Accomando: She’s a joy to listen to.
Miguel Rodriguez: She’s a trip. I’ve been talking to her on email and so I asked her for a picture for her lanyard and she sent me this an old animated picture that she used to watch as a kid. Can I use this? I’m like yeah. She’s very exuberant and fun and she’s going to be a great speaker. I can’t wait. So, cannibals, there’s definitely a lot of crossover there with the horror genre for sure. And the Cannibals: Myth & Reality exhibit does deal quite extensively with just how the topic of cannibalism is in popular culture not just now, but has been for ages and ages and ages. And stories like Robinson Crusoe and Moby-Dick and all kinds old just stories sailors would tell when they came back home with cannibalism was always a part of it. And just why such a repugnant tabooed topic is at the same time so fascinating and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down, we had the Hannibal show recently and cannibalism is still around and still big. And so, I want to invite them to talk about that.
In the horror genre cannibalism has a whole sub-genre, particularly films from Italy in the late ‘70s and ‘80s, some pretty, pretty notorious cannibalism films. And there was an Indonesian one called Primitive. There are cannibalism B horror films that have been around forever, but of course there are some really good ones too like Silence of the Lambs.
Beth Accomando: We Are What We Are
Miguel Rodriguez: We Are What Are, Ravenous
Beth Accomando: Ravenous
Miguel Rodriguez: All really great films. So, I wanted to give some context for this notion, this trope that we have and explore it further and we do have Dr. Anderson joining us to lead that discussion. I will be on stage as well. And also we’re going to have the director of a short film that we’re coupling this talk with, Billy Hanson, who directed a short film called Survivor Type. It’s based on a Stephen King’s short story. So, if anyone is listening and is a Stephen King fan then you know what that’s about already.
(Clip: My name is Richard Pine. I was on a cruise ship called the Callas on a trip from Saigon to New York. The ship sank two days ago. There’s nobody else here. Don’t look like there’s anything to eat. I guess people will want to hear what would happen first hand. I guess we’re going to Pine Island.)
Let’s just say it’s quite fitting for the cannibalism talk.
Beth Accomando: Well, and the other thing that the museum exhibit does is it raises, it includes a lot of pop culture in it, but it also explores how we define cannibals and are more people cannibals than you may actually think. They point out that the British aristocracy was using medicine that used body parts and blood and skull and things like this. Yes, so were they cannibals? Generally, we don’t consider them. They’re not generally lumped together in a lot of the pup culture that we see defining cannibals. So, it’s an exhibit that makes you–
Miguel Rodriguez: It does raise the question, why not?
Beth Accomando: Yes, yes. But it raises a lot of questions and I think the film you have is going to be an interesting one to pair up with that. So, this is another way that you push the envelope in terms of how you want to present horror within the context of a horror film festival.
Miguel Rodriguez: Oh man! I have a great example of what exactly you’re talking about. The Reader was asking me about our description because they’re giving us a piece in The Reader, thank you. But in it, I list the different things that have been involved in Horrible Imaginings that I’ve been asked to do through Horrible Imaginings and one was when Dr. Nick Reveles and I did the horror in opera panel at Horrible Imaginings 2013-2014, 2013 good gosh, three years ago. Anyway, but The Reader emailed me and just – we sent back and forth like four emails at least because he just wouldn’t believe that Horrible Imaginings did something with the opera. And I literally dog through like my emails and old files to find the actual image that Nick had made for that event. I was like no, this was an event that happened during Horrible Imaginings it was the community conversations with San Diego Opera. And finally he was like oh wow, okay cool.
Beth Accomando: We actually have video.
Miguel Rodriguez: We have video of it, but I completely get it that’s not something someone would expect at Horrible Imaginings and the opera would partner. And he was like, well, are you sure it wasn’t just you because he knew I was a little bit more on the academics. He was like, no, no, this was actually the festival. It’s always been something we wanted. We got Bradley Voytek, the neuroscientist to talk about how uses zombies to talk about brain science. And his book had come out, so we had a book of science and books there. He did a brain dissection with Jell-O mold brain.
Beth Accomando: Jell-O brain.
Miguel Rodriguez: It was things like that. They add something that’s a little more – I think what it does is it made us think about these dark concepts a little more deeply that sometimes we can just have fun with them, a movie like Dead Alive. But then we have the opportunity to really see it in a different light not like that.
Beth Accomando: And you are following the cannibal panel with a feature film In the Dark and tell us a little bit about that.
Miguel Rodriguez: In the Dark is, actually the filmmaker David Paltrow says he knows you and he says, hi Beth Accomando. He was like, oh you know her, that’s fine. In the Dark is an exorcism film. Ever since The Exorcist in the ‘70s the whole exorcism, I guess, trope or exorcism concepts has been a big part of the horror genre. This is the first time I think I’ve shown one outside of maybe a local short film I did a couple years ago. What really sells this film for me is the actress, Grace Folsom, who plays the possessed girl in it.
(Clip: There are still things in the dark.
Woman: What kind of things?
Girl: Angry things.
Woman: Do you know what’s in this house?
Girl: Darkness. Blacker than the blackest, I thought I was going crazy and I’m still not sure that I’m not, but I just don’t understand. I don’t understand why it’s happening to us. I mean did we do something, did I do something?
Woman: You didn’t do anything Bethany.
Girl: I’m sorry, I guess I’m a little bit of a mess here.
Woman: It’s okay to fall apart sometimes. We pick ourselves up. Stay strong; is your family particularly religious?
Girl: Like church and stuff?
Girl: No, I mean we went to church a few times and mom prayed a lot when dad, I guess it didn’t stick.
Woman: We often find strengths in the unlikeliest of places. I have something dear to me that might help you find strength; something given to me that I’d like to offer you.
Voice: Don’t you dare – don’t fucking touch me with that.)
Miguel Rodriguez: I think she does a spectacular job. She’s really creepy. It’s also a pretty much an entirely female cast. So, that I think that it gives another kind of elements to the whole idea of exorcism and this concept based on religion. There’s a lot in that about skepticism versus faith and all the usual stuff with exorcism things. It’s an independent film. I might as well say now that Horrible Imaginings this year will be its swansong as a film called In the Dark, since it just got picked up by Breaking Glass Pictures and they’re changing the name to Dark Exorcism. And the reason I want to say that now is because it has to be listed both ways. So, in case anyone gets confused. A congratulation to them on getting the distribution deal.
Beth Accomando: The actress, Grace Folsom, is going to be there.
Miguel Rodriguez: She is. She’s coming down, ‘our possessed’ actress will be there. Hopefully she’ll be cured of any demonic possession or maybe not hopefully we’ll see.
Beth Accomando: Will she bring holy water?
Miguel Rodriguez: I don’t know, Grace, bring some holy water, we’ll see. But we’re excited to have her talk about that film and her experience acting in it.
Beth Accomando: And that will be followed by a couple of shorts and one of those shorts is one of my favorites from the festival which was Hudduh.
(Clip – Spanish)
Miguel Rodriguez: A Latino film called Huddah by a director named Tony Morales and conceptually it’s classic horror in that it’s about a child afraid of going to bed at night and what might be lurking under the covers.
But what you said before about a film knowing exactly how long to spend on its story and exactly how long to stretch out it scares and all of those things, this film hits that sweet spot really perfect and also the acting is topnotch from the kid. Last year I did a whole series called child’s nightmares all with kids in the leads and I could have done something similar. I didn’t have as much good stuff as I did last year, but I did have a few and this would have been one of them for that.
Beth Accomando: Well, it’s interesting with horror too because what you’re showing some conform to very kind of horror traditions and work within the genre in very classical terms. Other ones explode those tropes and those traditions and this one was just beautifully classical, just afraid of the dark, afraid of going to sleep and afraid of what monsters might lurk and it was just so well done.
Miguel Rodriguez: It really communicates that feeling perfectly. That feeling of, I’m in my bed and I’m freaked out and is it nothing or is there something really there? And we’ve all had that. We’ve all had that. So, yes that was a nice surprise for me. The filmmaker actually submitted late and emailed me directly and it was one of those things where, sorry Tony but it was a little annoyed, but I saw and I was like yes, let’s show it.
Beth Accomando: Well, I’m glad. And you end the night with another Latino film which is Path.
Miguel Rodriguez: This is a Chilean film and this is my – I’m giving this to all the people out there who do like their brutal bloody movies.
This one I feel is like – I think Chile in general with their genre stuff that they’ve been doing have been trying to reclaim what France had a few years back with the new French extreme. They haven’t quite reached that in terms of just sheer quality and genius. But what I like about Path or Sendero, there’s a lot that’s conventional here. You’ve got the rural versus the college kids who get lost where they shouldn’t be and there’s this whole Texas Chainsaw Massacre esque kind of thing going on, but what won me over are the characters particularly the matriarch….
Beth Accomando: Oh my god, she was great.
Miguel Rodriguez: Yes, she’s so good as the matriarch of the vicious little clan that these unwitting college kids….
Beth Accomando: You mean the loving family?
Miguel Rodriguez: The loving family, yes. They find themselves immersed in her face, the way she did—
Beth Accomando: Yes.
Miguel Rodriguez: Everything about her is like honestly she sold the film for me.
Beth Accomando: Yes.
Miguel Rodriguez: There are more characters than her that they’re a little more – I don’t want to say well-rounded perhaps but they’re not just boring. There’s something there, they’re just wild wacky characters. And I like that. I appreciate that but she really sold that for me. For those of you who like some good hitting and some splatter and some gore, this one is the one that has it.
Beth Accomando: We move to Saturday now. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday are just evening – films are only screening in the evening. Saturday is going to be the first full-on day of films. And you start off with a sci-fi and creature shorts which I think has some of the strongest films of the festival.
Miguel Rodriguez: Yes, I’m so excited to show some of these films. This is one of those things where I was like, oh man, I wish I wish, no, I don’t want to say that but sometimes I wish I could have even longer more days, so I could show more movies because I’d love to have a sci-fi and creature features each have their own block. They go together really well though, it’s like peanut butter and chocolate. But there’s a film called – one of my favorite titles I’ve ever gotten, They Will All Die In Space. It’s straight up science fiction film, very reminiscent of the original alien, very lonely and space drifting spaceship. Excellent set-work…
Beth Accomando: Yes.
Miguel Rodriguez: The production design is fantastic. The filmmaker, his name is Javier Chillon and he’s from Spain. And I wanted to bring him up just because this is the second film we’re showing of his. He did a film called Decapoda Shock a couple of years ago that we showed which is really similar. It’s a science fiction film except much more wild about an astronaut who turns into a lobster, really awesome movie. So, we’re excited to have him back.
Beth Accomando: I want to play a little clip from this because this is not something that you typically find at horror films, but it’s a musical Bionic Girl. Let’s hear a little bit of this. This is a French one and this is actually the second French musical horror film that you’ve shown. You showed one last year, but let’s hear a little bit of Bionic Girl.
(Clip – French)
Bionic Girl pushes the envelope in another way. Are there any other films on this block that you want to highlight?
Miguel Rodriguez: Oh gosh, let me think. I definitely want to talk about Heir and I want to talk about Cicero’s Stars (phonetics).
Beth Accomando: Both of those share a certain similarity in the body horror element that they have.
Miguel Rodriguez: Yes, they’re both very body horror and they’re both very heavy into the beautiful prosthetics special effects that we love so much. And they both have this well, Cicero’s Stars is a little more of this cosmic horror element to it where Heir is a little more like it’s body horror but it’s also a family story.
(Clip: Man: 20 years.
Man: In 20 years, since your dad and I were in college. Damn, we shared a lot of courses didn’t we?
Man: Yes, we had quite a few. What were they again?
Man: Hey Paul, what should we do today? You got any ideas?
Man: What do you think, dad?
Man: Out fishing.
Man: What do you say Paul?
Man: Your dad ever take you?
Man: No, I don’t know about a father who never taught his boy to beat a hooker-- something special about all the time alone in the water. It’s for a special kind of bonding, you know.
Man: We’re more into sports.
Man: Right buddy?
Man: Hey, hey, it’s okay dad. I guess you’re right it must be talk or email. Just let him down. Or would you prefer him awake?)
Miguel Rodriguez: It has a whole other aspect to it because it is about a family. And it’s about passing something to one’s offspring that you may not want to pass. And again, the acting in there is great. That stars Bill Oberst Jr. who is a great name in the horror genre. And he doesn’t a really marvelous job in that film. Cicero’s Starts is a parasite film.
(Clip: But you are stronger now. We will do as we please. The whole body is empty and weak but we stay longer.)
Beth Accomando: This will get the eeew factor.
Miguel Rodriguez: This one definitely has, yes, and what I love about it is it knows how to ramp it up. It doesn’t have the biggest ooh at the beginning or the middle. It waits until the end and that really, yes, I love it. I really liked it very much. I can’t wait to show it.
Beth Accomando: And you end this block with a really strong one which is The Disappearance of Willie Bingham.
Miguel Rodriguez: Yeah. I actually wanted to give this the heading that we came up with last year, the horror for humanity heading. I didn’t get as many entries that I thought fit that so well. But The Disappearance of Willie Bingham does in that it asks questions about capital punishment and the death penalty.
(Clip: I remember too Willie Bingham; one, feisty face with fear after the sentence was read and the other after a series of amputations. The first is now blurred but painfully sharp focus at the second.
Miguel Rodriguez: Now, it does it in a very, I don’t want to say science fiction but definitely a fictional narrative format. But the question is in there and it doesn’t have any answers, but it makes you think and I think it’s a very thoughtful short film, very dark short film.
Beth Accomando: Really disturbing in surprising ways.
Miguel Rodriguez: Yes, not in ways that you’d expect. The whole capital punishment, death penalty question is one that, not just even in American society because this is an Australian film. But it’s something that we as a people argue with ourselves about. Some people are for. Some people are against it. And most people are kind of like don’t know. And this one I think is for the people who don’t know.
Beth Accomando: Well, and the other aspect of it, the sci-fi kind of aspect of it is, as technology and medical science reach a certain point, there are a lot of questions that start coming up regarding what we can do to keep people alive. And I don’t want to give away too much but….
Miguel Rodriguez: No, it’s so hard I really want to talk about this now.
Beth Accomando: But please come to this film because there’s a Q&A after this block of films and people can talk a little bit about some of the issues that come up in these films.
Miguel Rodriguez: I do want to bring up one other thing really quick I think is worth noting too about this film that I really appreciated as a part of it, a big part of what drives the horror in The Disappearance of Willie Bingham is the families of the victims. And a big question there are about how much power should they really have. I think that’s a very interesting question and one that is very strong in this film.
Beth Accomando: You also have an LGBT block and this contains one of my other favorite films from this festival, which is The Black Bear. And I don’t really want to say anything about it, but I will say that the special effects in this kick ass in a way you will not expect.
Miguel Rodriguez: They’re perfection.
Beth Accomando: They’re perfection. You have to see this film. It’s all I have to say. You need to make a trip to see – for me some of the short films were the highlight of this festival as opposed to the features and there are a couple of them; The Black Bear, The Disappearance of Willie Bingham, Little Boy Blue which we’re going to be talking about. But some of these shorts are just brilliant and a festival like this is going to be the rare opportunity where you will get a chance to see films like this on the big screen. You might be able to find them on YouTube or on Vimeo at some point or somewhere else, but to see a couple of these on the big screen is just amazing.
Miguel Rodriguez: I can’t wait it. I hope I can make it into the theater at certain parts; certainly for the sci-fi and creature features blog because those are some cinematic crazy shorts. And then of course The Black Bear. I want to be there not just to see the film on the screen but to see the audiences.
Beth Accomando: Reaction.
Miguel Rodriguez: A lot would happens, yeah, oh god, it’s so good.
Beth Accomando: This is one that could have been in the comedy block.
Miguel Rodriguez: Oh yeah.
Beth Accomando: I will say that about it.
Miguel Rodriguez: Peals of laughter.
Beth Accomando: Yes.
Miguel Rodriguez: Peals of laughter. The LGBT block we have I should mention it’s sponsored by TG Geeks or Two Gay Geeks who do a webcast. They are sponsoring that block and helped to bring the feature film Aleina to us because that’s coming from Sweden and it wasn’t cheap, but we’re happy to show it. Aleina is a bit more of a serious film and the other short film in this block, Zurich, is also more serious. I think it’s a beautiful film, but I am glad to have The Black Bear and there is–
Beth Accomando: Sandwiched in between.
Miguel Rodriguez: Some much needed levity, yes.
Beth Accomando: And also on Saturday, you are going to be having a Viva Mexploitation Panel with Aaron Soto who is a very talented filmmaker. I got to see his first student film at Southwestern College a long time ago and I’m so happy to see him continuing with horror. So, what’s this panel going to be like?
Miguel Rodriguez: So, Aaron is the rumored Mexico guy now. So, he’s got his foot in all kinds of things but his heart has always been in what he calls Mexploitation. He’s talked about this a lot. We have an official podcast where we did a whole three-hour talk about Mexploitation. And then last year we did a Latino horror panel and my fear with this was like this is like last year, but actually it’s not. What we got out of the Latino horror panel last year was the same question over and over again. Where can we see these movies? What are the movies? Because last year was more about the kind of aspects that make horror specifically Latino, but we didn’t really talk about titles very much. This is going to be all about the movies. So, there are going to be clips. There are going to be titles. There’s going to be a watch lists and Aaron, in his very uniquely Aaron way is going to talk about his favorite subject. And I know it’s going to be one of the most entertaining things that we can experience.
Beth Accomando: Aaron is much fun to listen to because he’s so passionate about horror and about things like Mexploitation.
Miguel Rodriguez: Oh, I can’t wait – the clips he has are outstanding. I can’t wait. And it’s not – again this is going to go outside the boundaries of horror. There’s going to horror stuff. There’s going to be a lot of crime films. It’s going to be a lot of burlesque scantily clad Mexican women. It’s going to be some sci-fi, it’s going to be masked wrestlers. It’s going to run the gamut.
Beth Accomando: Does it go to nunsploitation too?
Miguel Rodriguez: There probably will be some nunsploitaion, yes, oh yes.
Beth Accomando: All right. Well and then we follow this with horror in literature. So again, moving away a little bit from the central focus of film to horror in literature, so what is that panel going to contain?
Miguel Rodriguez: That panel is going to be a number of authors talking about a variety of things, but focusing mainly on what makes a story scary in the literary format in prose fiction. We’ll have authors like John Skipp, Cody Goodfellow, Laura-Lee Barr who are just really powerhouses in their field. And our keynote speaker author is Brian Evenson who will be there to lead the charge. We’re really excited to have an author of Evenson’s caliber. And he actually has a new book coming out called The Warren and it’s coming out on the 20th of September. But his publisher Tor Books gave us permission to sell 30 copies early world premiere at Horrible Imaginings for Horrible Imagining’s people only. So, that’s pretty exciting too. Essentially I’ve always talked about Horrible Imaginings being a study of macabre art and film and that is a holdover from when we used to have an art gallery and all the other parts at the beginning. But literature is definitely a part of that and I’m a classical literature major. Literature is one of my own personal loves. And so, I wanted to imbue the festival with a literature component. And now that I have a little bit of help from local author David Agranoff and local author Anthony Trevino that I can make it happen a little more smoothly. And I can’t wait to see what they have for that panel.
Beth Accomando: Connected with that but not right at the same time, you have the terrifying campfire style readings from horror authors. So, are these going to be the same authors?
Miguel Rodriguez: So, the authors who are at the panel later after we’re finished at MOPA. We’re closing the MOPA doors earlier than we have in the past on Saturday in order to take the scares out into the park for a picnic style thing. And we’re going to end the festival night, not counting whatever after parties we go to. I think one way to talk about this is, there’s this artist Pete Von Sholly and he did this wonderful huge mural called The History of Monsters. And it’s just like monsters from the dawn of storytelling until now. The all beautifully painted you can see it at Monsterpalooza in book form and whatnot. But one of the first things it has is it has people telling stories around the campfire. And this image of people telling scary stories to each other orally is for me, it goes at the heart of what I love about horror because really as scary as it can get, it really brings us together. I also think about the opening of The Fog where—
Beth Accomando: John Housman
Miguel Rodriguez: John Housman, yes, telling that awesome story to these kids and the way he tells the story with the campfire in his face. It’s beautiful.
(Clip: 11:55, almost midnight, enough time for one more story. One more story before 12:00. Just to keep us warm. Five minutes and it will be the 21st of April. One hundred years ago on the 21st of April, out in the waters around Spivey point, a small clipper ship drew toward land. Suddenly, out of the night, the fog rolled in. For a moment, they could see nothing. Not a foot ahead of them and then they saw on a light. My god, it was a fire burning on the shore strong enough to penetrate the swirling mist, stay out of course toward the light, but it was a campfire like this one.)
Miguel Rodriguez: That’s what I want to harked. I hope people bring blankets. We’ll have lighting and stuff like that that we want to set up, so it I wish we could just light a fire but I don’t think we’ll be able to do that in the middle of Marlborough Park. But we want the mood to be there and it will be about 20 minutes; just enough time to get some creepy stories in but not enough time to wear out the welcome.
Beth Accomando: And just to step back in time a little bit. So, before that you are going to be running a hilarious short film called Death Metal with a much more serious feature film called Beyond the Gates. And that’s going to be the big feature film for the night.
Miguel Rodriguez: Yes, Beyond the Gates was the LA Film Festival Award winner. It stars some real talents in the horror world that people know and love like Barbara Crampton who people would know from the Re-Animator and From Beyond and more recently with We Are Still Here which is another fantastic horror film. It also stars Brea Grant who people have seen in Halloween 2. She was in some episodes of Dexter. Graham Skipper who we know from Re-Animator: The Musical as well as The Mind’s Eye and Almost Human. Chase Williamson from John Dies at the End. So, the list goes on and on, but one thing that’s definitely big and doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon is the ‘80s nostalgia kind of feel. Certainly that show on Netflix Stranger Things is an example of this. But we’ve been seeing this for a long time Turbo Kid.
Anyway, so Beyond the Gates is a movie about a VHS board game for those of you who remember those that channels another dimension. And yes, I decided to open it up with this is really – I don’t know short and sweet beautiful film called Death Metal. That’s exactly what you hope it’s going to be.
(Clip: Man: Okay, son, the time has come. It’s time for you to have this. This thing has been in the family a long time. I think it will help you. Yeah. This will make you good. Like crazy good.
Man: You’re great grandpa signed a contract for it, with Satan.)
Beth Accomando: Sunday night, September 11th is going to be your closing day and it starts with some human killers and psychological terror. And this has an amazing film in the block, it closes the block which is Little Boy Blue and I am so looking forward to seeing this on a big screen.
(Clip: Boy: Daddy and I thought that you might like your new friend.
Woman: You’re a pretty girl.)
Miguel Rodriguez: If there are any films that I think deserve to be projected Little Boy Blue is definitely one of them. Ashley Barron, this is one of those DPs that I memorized the name just because the cinematography in this film is outstanding. It’s also one of those films that I watched from the submission list and he immediately texted you and said watch this right now. So, yes, I’m really looking forward to showing this one. It’s beautifully shot, very dark and again like own tastes. It features children in the lead roles, children who do outstanding acting work.
Beth Accomando: Yes, brilliant.
Miguel Rodriguez: Yes, just outstanding. And it goes some very intense places while keeping the images quite beautiful.
Beth Accomando: Well, and it’s another film that you could almost put in that Horror for Humanity block, because whether you acknowledge there’s a little opening credit, I won’t say anything about it, but there’s a little opening credit which sets the scene for what the story’s about. And whether you take that into account or not, the film still works. But if you do you pay attention to that it does set it into a social context and into an emotional context too that gives a little extra edge.
Miguel Rodriguez: Yes, it’s definitely true. Yes, I should’ve thought of that.
Beth Accomando: You would have had two films for horror film.
Miguel Rodriguez: I would have darn it.
Beth Accomando: Now, this block also contains something which is interesting Burlap because this is going to be offered in two formats.
Miguel Rodriguez: Yes, Burlap was playing Sunday under that block. This is the traditional horror short film. And what I mean by traditional is throughout the weekend, audiences will have the opportunity to experience that same type of story, the same director, the same world through a VR or a virtual reality headset. So, we’ll have three stations of gear set up for virtual reality and the VR version of burlap will be throughout the festival. So, I think one thing that I’m excited about is this idea of a compare and contrast between the VR experience and the traditional film experience. And we will have the director, Justin Denton there to discuss that a little bit. He also gave one of the interviews we have in the magazine about that certain thing. He has some really interesting concepts about what VR, the experience of virtual reality and the isolation it has, and using that isolation for a horror effect which I really like. So, I’m excited to add this other dimension, this whole virtual reality aspect. It’s the first time we’ve ever done anything like that. Actually that’s going to be integrated into MOPA as a whole and MOPA is going to offer that to whoever’s going to the museum as well. So, that should be cool. Although when we set up tickets for our people, they get first tips.
Beth Accomando: In this whole virtual reality dimension, we saw a lot of that at Scare LA earlier this summer.
Miguel Rodriguez: It seems to be as the technology is rapidly growing, the experiments with it are multiplying. So, we did. Right outside the screening room, we had our screening room at Scare LA, there was six of them it felt like.
Beth Accomando: Yes, there was a lot.
Miguel Rodriguez: There was a lot.
Beth Accomando: And long lines for people trying to test them out.
Miguel Rodriguez: That’s why we didn’t get to see that any of them. And that’s why we need to do a little bit of a ticketing thing to get people to see it at our festival which I have worked out with MOPA. But yes, I think you can offer some new things. It’s certainly a question right now of what people expect from virtual reality. This is where I can be a luddite in that before talking to Justin about bringing Burlap VR version to this Horrible Imaginings, my concept of VR was still like that movie The Lawnmower Man from 1992 with Pierce Brosnan. So, yes it’s not quite that.
Beth Accomando: Now, we talked about you have one exorcism film. But you also have a supernatural horror block during this day and there are again some films that are pushing the envelope in terms of what we think of or horror, you actually have a dance film.
Miguel Rodriguez: Yes, I couldn’t help it. I loved it. This is one of those ones where I’m unapologetic because I loved the music and I loved her makeup and I loved the dancing. And I don’t know, it mixes it up a little bit. It’s definitely – so the dance one is called Mexican Flamenco and it’s basically a dance video with this Mexican Flamenco dancer who is just beautiful and does beautiful work through interpretive dance tells the La Llorona story. That was my justification for it. So, it is about a ghost and it’s about death. It’s just not a film that tries to scare you, but I did really enjoy it.
Beth Accomando: There is also a film called La She (phonetics) if I am saying that right, which is beautiful.
Miguel Rodriguez: We’re bringing that one up now.
Beth Accomando: Yes. That is in this block.
Miguel Rodriguez: It is. It ends it. Yes, La She is great. It’s a Polish. I talked before about loving folklore. It’s essentially folklore of a more like fairytale really like Monsters in the Woods kind of stuff.
(Clip – Polish)
Miguel Rodriguez: It hits all the right marks for me. It looks beautiful, strong acting child lead actor, about monsters, folktale, fairytale kind of feel to it and, I’m getting chills right now, just thinking about it. I really loved La She. I hope that people really like that one too and in fact I know they will. Don’t miss that one.
Beth Accomando: It reminds me when I was working with the San Diego International Film Festival at UCSD, we showed this Czech film of compendium of fairytales called Wildflowers and I think the Czech word was like Khatis or something. But it was so gorgeous and this kind of primal feel of fairytales was in it. This film reminded me of that and I wish I could find that Wildflowers film to show or see again but I haven’t been able to.
Miguel Rodriguez: Now, I want to see it. I think you have mentioned it to me before.
Beth Accomando: Oh, it is gorgeous and the music amazing in it too, I remember. But it was gorgeous; I mean the colors just leapt off the screen. It was like 3D film without 3D. There is another feature film on Sunday which is Idol and this is the one from Slovenia?
Miguel Rodriguez: Slovenia, yea. What’s they’re billing as the first Slovenian horror film. I don’t know how true that is. I don’t have a lot of Slovenian film knowledge. I do know what’s interesting is it shocked everyone is that this film won the biggest award at the Slovenia Film Festival last week. So, I need to post about that. But everybody’s like a horror film won, blah, blah, blah. Idol, we talked up earlier about Path and in a lot of ways it’s quite similar. But I find that interesting too because both of these films are overtly trying to speak about the 1 percent versus the 99 percent kind of thing. The country mouse versus the city mouse, the rural versus the metropolitan by having metropolitan people in a rural setting and have horrific things go on in the vein of – again like I said before Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It’s interesting to see both these things from opposite sides of the globe. And I do think that there is a lot of horror convention that they’re adhering to in both cases.
But I also think that there are some sincere concerns about the things that are going on in their own countries that they’re trying to convey here as well to varying degrees of success, but it’s interesting to see it happen. The director of Idol, this is his debut feature film. He’s made short films before and he overtly says that this is about the socioeconomic problems that Slovenia faces. And for me, it’s like well, I don’t know anything about the socioeconomic problems that Slovenia faces. So, I did include him in one of the interviews we have in the magazine that people can get at the festival. But certainly, it’s not heavy handed with that at all. People like crazy woodland people doing terrible things to city folk and then they’ll this movie. Plus it does look really great like the filming of this is basically a travelogue for the Slovenian countryside. It just happens to have a lot of violence in it.
Beth Accomando: So, maybe not one that the travel bureau would approve of, but it does look good.
Miguel Rodriguez: It looks very good. I want to visit now.
Beth Accomando: And you’re going to close out the festival. You talked about kicking it off with this explosive film Tag and ending on an equally crazy note with, I guess we can say is a pair of strangler films, very different, we got a short film the Brentwood Strangler followed by the closing night film The Greasy Strangler. So, talk about your closing night program there.
Miguel Rodriguez: I guess I’m being kind of ridiculous. I just needed to have the both the strangler films right next to each other. Other than strangling happens, there’s very little in common between the short film and the feature film. Although the short film, the Brentwood Strangler does have a great sense of humor and it features Jordan Lad who we all know and love from Club Dread and Cabin Fever and films like that. So, it’s worth seeing. I hope people go see the Brentwood Strangler. Basically if you’ve ever been afraid of going on blind date with a serial killer, this is a movie for you. The Greasy Strangler is a film that I was very happy to get. It’s from Elija Wood’s production company, Spectrevision. I don’t even know how to begin to describe what this is. I will say that my wife, Tiffany, this is one of her favorite movies and she loves scatological humor. So, if that’s what people love they’ll love The Greasy Strangler. The horror elements are there as a joke but really this is like Pink Flamingos.
Beth Accomando: Yes, John Waters kind of feel.
Miguel Rodriguez: Yes, well Pink Flamingos for me is like they definitely were influenced by something like that or Female Trouble or something.
Beth Accomando: Because it’s people on the very periphery of society.
Miguel Rodriguez: There’s a two word review. I can’t remember if it was Hollywood Reporter or Variety but it was a major trade magazine. And there was a two word review and that two word review was ‘unappealing nudity’. That’s it.
Beth Accomando: I think you could call it horrific nudity perhaps. That’s where the horror was.
Miguel Rodriguez: There’s an awful lot of it. It’s a trip, I think that people – if you want to see something you haven’t seen before, The greasy Strangler is it.
Beth Accomando: Just look for the trailer.
Miguel Rodriguez: Yes.
Beth Accomando: I could play you a piece of the trailer which we can do right here, but you need to visually see what these people look like and then you’ll understand the references to John Waters as well.
Miguel Rodriguez: True.
Beth Accomando: But yes, it’s a film where you need the visual component to fully understand.
Miguel Rodriguez: And for my cult horror fans out there, one thing that excites me particularly is the lead in this big Ronnie is played by an actor who is in very few things but one of those very few things is this direct video zombie movie from the ‘80s called The Video Dead that I really like and I know has a great cult following. So, it’s awesome to see him in this and the things this guy does still boggle my mind.
Beth Accomando: Well, that has brought us to the end of the festival. You are going to have an awards ceremony during the festival, you’re giving out awards.
Miguel Rodriguez: Yes, we are. I’m excited about the awards this year. They were crafted in this translucent resin and they’re going to sit on an LED. So, they’re going to glow. It’s going to be cool.
Beth Accomando: Are there any closing remarks you want to make about the festival or any information you want to give to people?
Miguel Rodriguez: Yes, I want to announce that after the festivals are over, you’re just going to have to wait like two more weeks and then on September 29th we’re going to have an additional event.
Beth Accomando: Because we couldn’t fit it into the festival.
Miguel Rodriguez: I really wanted it as part of the festival, but I’m glad, we’ll see. I think it’s going to be great. Well, I know it’s going to be great.
Beth Accomando: It’s going to be great.
Miguel Rodriguez: It’s going to be amazing. Yes, it’s Brick by Brick and the eminent maestro from Italy; the man who scored films like City of the Living Dead and The Beyond.
Beth Accomando: Zombie.
Miguel Rodriguez: Zombie, Manhattan Baby. Fabio Frizzi will be joining us here in San Diego to perform some of the best from his filmography at Brick by Brick and I just can’t wait. That is a dream come true thing for me.
Beth Accomando: And there’re going to be VIP passes so that people can actually have a little meet and greet with him.
Miguel Rodriguez: Those VIP passes are going, so get on those.
Beth Accomando: Miguel and I have both seen him perform before. I got to see him at Abattoir and also in Los Angeles. It’s fabulous. There’re going to be clips from the films played and he’s got a band with him.
Miguel Rodriguez: I think what makes – that’s pretty much it. What’s made Fabio Frizzi so special to horror fans, especially Italian horror fans for decades; I can’t believe we’re making this happen because I was in high school and obsessed with the music of his movies. If you had told me that I would ever see this guy in person, I never would have believe you because he seemed to me a theoria like the music just happened from God or something. But what makes them special is they are counter to what a lot of people would expect from a horror movie, I think are great example of what makes his music so special and what makes me so excited about this show is at the end of The Beyond, I’m going to spoil the film for people who haven’t seen it but who cares, you’ll still enjoy it. Go see it. Basically our heroes, the protagonist of the film end up in hell. But the music is completely not what you’d expect. It’s this very kind of sad flute. And rather than it seeming, pom, pom, pom, scary, it’s more tragic.
Beth Accomando: Yes.
Miguel Rodriguez: It’s sad and tragic. It takes the potency of that scene and ramps it up way beyond what it would have been without Fabio Frizzi’s music. It is absolutely just unimaginable without it and now we’re going to see it live, so join us.
Beth Accomando: And if people do want to get tickets online, where can they find them?
Miguel Rodriguez: They will be at brickbybrick.com, on sale now, $25 dollars now, they will be $30 at the door and if you do want to shake the hand of the maestro himself, it’ll be $50 for VIP’s with a little pre-show soiree party thing.
Beth Accomando: And if people want to buy tickets for the Horrible Imaginings Film Festival, what’s your website?
Miguel Rodriguez: You will see passes athifilmfilmfest.com. At the top navigation you’ll see it’s a buy passes and also if you look at the schedule to see all the films where we have trailers listed, descriptions and all that stuff. And there are lots of ways to buy. You can get passes for each day individually. You can get passes for the entire festival and in a variety of levels. At the door, we will have $10 passes just to see one movie or one film block as seats are available. Those aren’t available online, but they will be available at the door.
Beth Accomando: Thank you, Miguel, for joining me on another edition of Cinema Junkie Podcast talking about things that we love so much which is horror.
Miguel Rodriguez: As always it’s a pleasure, I love coming here to Cinema Junkie Podcast.
Beth Accomando: All right. Remember the festival run September 7th through the 11th. I highly recommend getting yourself a full-on pass to see just about everything because there are gems in each of these program blocks that you don’t want to miss. You can subscribe to Cinema Junkie on iTunes or you can take a look at the archives at kpbs.org/junkiepodcasts and once again thanks for listening and until our next film flix, I am Beth Accomando, your resident cinema junkie.
Satisfy your celluloid addiction with the Cinema Junkie podcast, where you can mainline film 24/7. This film and entertainment series is run by KPBS Film Critic Beth Accomando. So if you need a film fix, want to hear what filmmakers have to say about their work, or just want to know what's worth seeing this weekend, then you've come to the right place