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Pass the time between pastimes with Zed Fest

December 23, 2013|By Jonny Whiteside
  • The strange, annual horror show known as Zed Fest happens on Saturday, Dec. 28, 6:30 to 11:30 p.m. at Burbank's Banshee Theatre.
The strange, annual horror show known as Zed Fest happens… (Courtesy of Zed…)

If the post-Christmas, pre-New Year's Eve limbo gets down, the strange, annual horror show known as Zed Fest will definitely reinvigorate the celebration-starved brain. Founded by North Hollywood indie filmmakers Ed Stephens and Wendy Medrano in 2008, Zed Fest honors the very best — or worst — of low-budget-amateur horror and sci-fi. Following a buildup series of informal screenings and festival events, this Saturday's climactic finale, held at the Burbank's Banshee Theater, is guaranteed to provide an orgiastic overdose of thoroughly weird cinematic entertainment.

"We started it because there are so many different film festivals around town, but it seemed that no one could get any horror stuff featured at any of them," Medrano said. "There are so many people around Hollywood making their own films — and these movies should be seen — that finally got Ed and I got so upset we just decided to see if, maybe, we could do it ourselves."

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With that tentative, frustrated start, Zed Fest — the title itself is derived from their mutual love of Z-grade movies — quickly blossomed into a thriving forum for offbeat Tinsel Town misfits. Inspired by the works of Roger Corman, George A. Romero, John Waters and, most importantly, Phil Tucker, the man responsible for mind-bendingly primitive 1952 3D sci-fi stinker "The Robot Monster," Stephens and Medrano have seen both interest and participation grow at an alarming rate. Zed Fest today enjoys international submissions, with entries from Brazil and Britain, and hands out a bevy of awards, from the anti-prestige of their "Phil Tucker Spirit Award" to oddball categories like "Outstanding Frightener," "Edgar Allen Poe-etics," "Bad Ass Villain" and "Outstanding Killer."

"A lot of film festivals won't even bother to email you back after you submit a film," Medrano said. "We keep the line of communication open and we've built up a community through Zed Fest. People will submit a short film and then next year or two they come back with a feature. It's become a real social circle for us, which is great."

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