Horrible Imaginings Film Festival Celebrates Classic and Indie Horror Films

La Quinceañera. Photo courtesy Horrible Imaginings Film Festival

The fall film festival season starts in September, so expect to see more coverage of local events that champion indie films across various genres and cultures in these pages.

This weekend, the Horrible Imaginings Film Festival takes over the Frida Cinema to present bizarre, fantastic and exceptional horror, thriller and sci-fi films, shorts and special screenings. Now in its ninth year, the formerly San Diego-based event promises to be even bigger than before with some seriously dope screenings (if a judge were to summon me to appear in court, court officers would find me here).

Below are those films I’m clearing my schedule to see. If you’re hungry for more, the full programming schedule is available at www.hifilmfest.com.

La Quinceañera (2018). The festival kicks off with Gigi Saul Guerrero’s stunner about a young woman named Alejandra Santos who is about to undergo the rite of passage for many young Latinas, their 15th birthday celebration or quinceañera. For most, it’s a vital event marking a young lady’s transition into womanhood, but for Alejandra, her special day is marred by a violent gang who assaults her and murders her partygoers. Taking matters into her own hands and aided by her abuela, Alejandra is out for vengeance.

Ms. 45 (1981). This explosive thriller starring Zoe Lund is one of the first of the revenge genre, and it remains one of the best. While it feels sticky with that lo-fi Grindhouse luster, it’s iconic for its star and ruthless protagonist; Abel Ferrara’s film has been re-evaluated as a feminist classic.

Deseo Deseo (I Wish I Wish) (2016). Eduardo M. Clorio directed this morbid Mexican indie, which surrounds five cousins who unlock a mysterious game that promises to grant each player whatever wish they desire; in return, they must lose what they love most.

Bong of the Living Dead (2017). Now, this is a film that clearly doesn’t take itself too seriously with the stoner angle, but it does present a venerable zombie movie (wonder whether George A. Romero would approve, though). In Max Groah’s film, a group of bong-ripping survivalists anticipating the zombie apocalypse are granted their fantasy of living a dystopian world overrun by zombies. But as rations and supplies run low and zombies are on their tail, they’ve got to come to grips with reality and fend for themselves. Plenty of old-fashioned zombie-bashing special effects sate the gore-hounds out there!

The Ranger. Photo courtesy Horrible Imaginings Film Festival

The Ranger (2018). I’m generally not a fan of horror films that display dated stereotypes of punks who are one-dimensional, hedonistic and annoying, as they are portrayed here, but if you’re doing an ’80s-slasher-movie homage, I guess you have to commit all the way. I’ll give director Jennifer Wexler props for The Ranger’s feisty heroine (played by Chloe Levine) and her deranged antagonist, a park ranger (Jeremy Holm) out to clear out rule breakers by deadly means.

Zombi 3 (1988). If there were ever a director who could give Romero a run for his money, it would be Italian director Lucio Fulci, who in the ’70s and ’80s directed a slate of Zombi films that resides in every horror-film fan’s canon. This flick concludes Fulci’s descent into a zombie universe in which a group of scientists working on a serum that reanimates the dead are thwarted by criminals who come in contact with it, then unintentionally spread its horrible effects around town.

Scary Black Folks: Critical Race Studies and Horror Panel. This timely discussion will be moderated by John Jennings, professor of media and cultural studies at UC Riverside.

The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988). If you’re not too concerned about waking up early the following Monday, you should take in this late-night screening of Wes Craven’s The Serpent and the Rainbow. Starring Bill Pullman, Serpent still holds up to be as creepy and haunting as it was in its initial release. Sigh, we miss you dearly, Wes.

Horrible Imaginings Film Festival at the Frida Cinema, 305 E. Fourth St., Santa Ana, (714) 285-9422; www.hifilmfest.com. Fri.-Sun. Visit www.hifilmfest.com for show times. Tickets available via thefridacinema.org.

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