Established in San Diego, CA in 2009, the annual Horrible Imaginings Film Festival showcases the newest voices in horror, sci-fi, and fantasy genre cinema over a multi-day event that consists of film screenings, diverse panels, parties, and networking sessions.

Our mission is to spotlight genre cinema, amplify artistic voices, and foster a community of acceptance. We sincerely believe in the sharing and exploring of our deepest fears, desires, and anxieties in a community setting. This festival provides the opportunity to not only explore these emotions but also exorcise them.

Horrible Imaginings Film Festival has been rated among the “Top 100 Best Reviewed Film Festivals” on FilmFreeway. Additionally, MovieMaker Magazine has designated us as one of the “Top 50 Film Festivals Worth The Entry Fee.”

Over the past 9 years, we have shown over 700 genre titles and welcomed over 8,000 attendees.

Every year selected films are eligible to be nominated for the following categories (as applicable):

Best Score in a Short Film
Best Score in a Feature Film
Best Cinematography in a Short Film
Best Cinematography in a Feature Film
Best Special Effects in a Short Film
Best Special Effects in a Feature Film
Best Short Film Screenplay
Best Feature Film Screenplay
Best Actor in a Short Film
Best Actor in a Feature Film
Best Actress in a Short Film
Best Actress in a Feature Film
Best Director in a Short Film
Best Director in a Feature Film
Best Animated Film
Funniest Horror Comedy
Audience Favorite
Best "Monster Show" Short Film
Best Dramatic Short Film
Best Feature Film

One winner in each category will win a "Toil and Trouble" trophy (a beautiful sculpted glass witch scheming over a bubbling cauldron).

Your film should not have publicly screened in Orange County, CA prior to the festival dates. We strongly prefer premiere status for submitted short and feature films.

Non English-language films must be subtitled in English.

We do accept exemplary older films, but only films completed after December 31, 2017 will be in consideration for awards.

Films released publicly online or on VOD will only be considered under strict special circumstances. For more information, please contact

Incomplete films (missing score, soundtrack, color correction, etc.) may be submitted for consideration so long as they are clearly marked as incomplete. Incomplete films must be finished by August 9, 2019.

All submissions must be made via FilmFreeway. This ensures that your film receives proper attention and consideration by the Selection Committee.

All submissions for consideration must be made available via a private online screener link (no physical screeners will be accepted or viewed).

Selected films must be made available in DCP and must be received by the festival no later than August 9, 2019.

Overall Rating
  • Max Groah

    Great festival run by great organizers. Everything about the process was easy. The communication from the fest was on point and comprehensive. The attendees were a great crowd and our team felt welcome.

    September 2018
    Response from festival:

    Thank you for being the first to review us this year! Thank you for making your film and for your kind words! It was great having Ben and Laura present!

  • Matthew Higgins

    It was an honor to have our short film, Keep Quiet, selected and screened at Horrible Imaginings Film Festival. In all of my correspondence with Miguel, I sensed his passion for our film, which was further evident in the classy festival programs, as well as our Q&A. The Frida Cinema is a fantastic venue for a festival, and HIFF had no shortage of weekend entertainment by also providing audiences panels and classic film screenings. We had a blast at Horrible Imaginings, and we hope to be back with our next project!

    September 2018
    Response from festival:

    It was great meeting you and sharing Keep Quiet with our audience! Thank you so much for the kind words!

  • One of the best genre festivals you could ever *imagine* your film getting into! We always are so thrilled to have our clients selected here, and you could not ask for a more varied and strong programme. Definitely consider submitting here!

    September 2018
    Response from festival:

    Wow! Thank you for taking the time to share your amazing thoughts! We are honoured to read this feedback!

  • Jeremiah Kipp

    One of America's finest genre festivals with smart programming, very communicative staff, professional, clear, fun and an incredibly supportive vibe.

    September 2018
    Response from festival:

    Thank you, Jeremiah! Such a great thrill to be able to screen your work this year!

  • They were most excellent in communicating for project submission and we were nominated for "Best Score in a Short Film" so... BONUS! Thanks HIFF!

    September 2018
    Response from festival:

    Your nomination was well deserved! I (Miguel) personally loved including your animated short film in our program. Thank you so much for these words!