Film: 2012 LA Film Festival: Horror, Sci-Fi & Shorts

by H. Clent Bowers

Magazine     >    Reviews

Written by H. Clent Bowers w/ Marion Ramsey for THE ARTISTS FORUM MAGAZINE
Edited by
Courtesy of the films: Juan of The Dead, Saturday Morning Massacre, It’s a Disaster, Kudzu Vine, Cheap Extermination, 3113, Meaning of Robots, Robot, Paraiso, Laura Keller-NB, Against The Sea

5 out of 5 stars


LOS ANGELES, CA (June 25, 2012) Every program for the Film Independent – 2012 LA Film Festival‘s Horror and Sci-Fi screenings where sold out. These films featured clever stories of Zombies, ghost nature, and outer space, told with new twists to make us laugh while our bodies chilled to the bone. There were a several interesting shorts rounding out the festival… far too many films to see this year — over 200. There were far more amazing titles I wanted to review for you, but could not. I recommend that you try and catch what you can at your local theater or at a festival near you. View the winners of the 2012 LA Film Festival here and ask your local independent theaters to acquire them for you.

Promotional poster for “Juan of the Dead”

Director: Alejandro Brugues
Cast: Alexis Dias de Villegas, Jorge Molina, Andrea Duro, Andros Perugorria, Jazz Vila, Eliecer Ramirez

From the moment Juan of the Dead starts, you know you’re in for a fun romp with zombies, comedy, and politics. You can almost see the director’s tongue in cheek twinkle eyed smile, knowing what’s to come. The film was so popular that the festival added several more screenings. I saw it twice! The very charming director, Alejandro Brugues, who is as candid in person has done the impossible. He has entered  this gem in an over saturated market of horror genre

The zombie – taken the name Juan, a Shawn sound alike, and set this piece in South America for a fun scary political romp. He introduces our heroes Juan and his brother, both constantly full of alcohol and misfits in their society. They are unemployed and are always conjuring up street scams to make money for more booze. They are joined by a handsome young con artist, a drag queen, and her musclebound boyfriend who faints at the sight of blood. Juan’s wife has kicked him out, but his beautiful daughter still loves her dad… and the handsome con artist.

As they notice what we have been seeing all along (the city filling up with walking dead people), Juan and his group set out to save the day.  Living on a rooftop where there is a public phone, Juan and the crew set up a call station to help the city and make money. We will kill your dead loved ones. This film is exciting, funny, scary, and heart felt. You root for this underdog crew and you’re moved by their story. The touching heroes ending promises we will have a Juan 2 and I cant wait.

Promotional image for “Saturday Morning Massacre”

Director: Spencer Parsons
Cast: Josephine Decker, Paul Gordon, Johnny Mars, Ashley Spillers, Adam Tate

This horror film came about unexpectedly says the director.  Seems a friend told him of a mansion that was empty and going on the market in about six weeks, so he took the opportunity to make a scary movie. When he saw the house, it reminded him of the old Scooby Doo cartoons, so he created a like story loosely based on those characters and ghost hunters. We end up with a good haunted mansion spooky movie. This film starts out funny with that little chill under your skin, and gets more and more intense as we find out the history of the house.  When we discover what ails the house, this films fresh ideas come forth. Nicely done.

Promotional poster for “It’s A Disaster”
Promotional poster for “It’s A Disaster”

Director: Todd Berger
Cast: Rachel Boston, Kevin M. Brennan, David Cross, America Ferrera, Jeff Grace, Erinn Hayes, Blaise Miller, Julia Styles

Imagine you’re young and ready to settle down. This new person just might be the one so, you take them to a dinner party to meet your friends. In It’s a Disaster, four couples in different stages of  their relationships meet for dinner only to realize a power outage has been caused by a meteor that hit the town. Everyone who is outside is dying of radiation poisoning. The options are to die a slow death, or to end it yourself. A very interesting and well written piece centering around the characters relationships with one another on dooms day.

Scene from “Kudzu Vine”

Director: Josh Gibson

This short is one of my favorites. It has to do with the Kudzu plant that covers the landscape of the south. This hardy, invasive species grows everywhere. Somehow it believes that everything in its path belongs beneath it. However, the patterns it makes are breathtaking. Many stories have been told about the plant, and when you see it you will know why.

Ernest Hohmann in “Cheap Extermination”

Director: Minka Farthing-Kohn
Cast: Ernest Hohmann, Patricia Beaudet, Ken McGregor

This funny short is about a real giant “Bug Man” who is hired to exterminate other bugs until the tables turn. Very funny.

Promotional image for “3113”

3113 (USA, 2011)
Director: Eric Demeusy

An alien robot crash lands on a planet and finds it is not alone. We watch it deal with an interesting and funny being who can travel through other dimensions.

Promotional image for “Meaning of Robots”

Director: Matt Lenski
Featuring: Mike Sullivan

This is a man who collects robots, almost to the point of hoarding them. He is consumed with them. Some of these robots are famous.

Promotional image for “Robot”

ROBOT (USA, 2012)
Director: Liz Garbus

A wonderful short about a robot who is programmed to mix things up a bit.

Scene form “Paraiso”

Director: Nadav Kurtz
Featuring: Sergio Polanco, Jamie Polanco, Cruz Guzman

This short is about two young Latin men who risk their lives each day to hang on platforms and clean the outside windows of skyscrapers. We watch as they rush to finish before the sun sets, and before the high winds come.

Scene from “Laura Keller-NB” starring Amber Benson

Director: Mo Perkins
Cast: Amber Benson, Martin Starr, Robert Baker, Trieste Kelly Dunn

(Pilot for TV Series) In this short we have reached the age when women have implants for birth control, and only through a lottery can a woman have the implant removed in order to give birth. Laura is a doctor, and she doesn’t want to wait. The question is will she be caught trying to remove the implant?

Promotional image for “Against the Sea”

Director: Richard Parkin

This coastal story is of a fisherman’s life in a small village. His wife doesn’t like the danger he takes each time he leaves to dive, and wishes him to do something else. Their son loves his father, but worries as well. When the father comes home after surviving a storm he takes his earnings and buys an old second hand movie camera. The family starts to film and play in the house. We end as a new chapter is beginning.

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