Alex Magaña’s Summer Smorgasbord Movie Review

Written by Stuart D. Monroe

Released by ACM Films via YouTube

alex magana summer smorgasbord poster large

Written and directed by Alex Magaña
2021, Not Rated
Released on various dates, 2021

Felissa Rose as Smiling Woman
Katy Ford as Patient
Jessi Sampogna as Nurse
Tatiana Juarez as Daughter
Alejandro Oviedo as Dad
Katy Ford as The Clown
Katelyn Torres as Woman
Rachel Deutsch as Young Woman
Ceara Lee Taylor as Neighbor
Katy Ford as Girlfriend
Justin Gubersky as Detective
Linda Paice as Detective 2
Jed Brian as Boyfriend

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In the time it took me to take a vacation and barely begin to get my feet back under me back at work, Alex Magaña has belted out another diverse buffet of ever darkening (and escalating) delicacies for you short film junkies. For the summertime collection, we get the first two parts of a new nightmare that coulrophobics will have issues with; a return to The Invisible Man; a new nightmare that feels straight from Elm Street; and the return of a damn horror icon!

Abraham Lincoln once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” That quote is fitting for the work that Alex Magaña has been putting in for the last year and change. He’s trying out the flavors of horror, honing the fundamentals, and building a stable of strong actors. The man is getting better each go round. With horror arguably never having been hotter, he’s sharpening that axe like he’s possessed by the spirit of Jack Torrance.

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Let’s get up close and personal with the latest five films in the rapidly expanding ACM Films library, shall we?

  • The Clown (2:38): A young girl (Tatiana Juarez) sees a clown in her room trying to crawl up onto her bed. Her dad thinks she’s just having a nightmare…until he disappears under the bed. Then the laughter starts and we’re treated to one of the more photogenically creepy clowns you’re ever going to see. The simple makeup and natural smile of the Clown (Katy Ford; Smiling Woman 4) remind me Mick Foley’s onscreen friend, Yurple. I like that. And that laugh is reminiscent of Mindy from the “Buttons and Mindy” shorts on Animaniacs. When you turn that combo spooky, good things happen. I smell another running series.
  • The Clown 2 (2:16): This clown gets around! Evil Yurple stalks another random person, a woman (Katelyn Torres; What’s Poppin’) checking into a motel. She’s flexing her muscles this time; ignoring locked doors and intercepting phone calls are apparently in her bag of tricks. And is she enjoying herself a little more this time around? Seems that way. Hotel rooms are naturally unnerving places to be without an increasingly aggressive clown invading your personal space.
  • Invisible Man 2 (2:43): I was starting to get a little bummed thinking Invisible Man was going to be a solo act, but he is back in the same apartment to make some more folks just disappear. Cabinets opening by themselves is always fun, as are footprints in the spilled flour. As always, a sequel is about furthering the story. This apartment is going to get quite a reputation. Or does the Invisible Man spread his wings and go hunting abroad? Either direction offers possibilities, but it would be more engaging to see some different locations and a broader variety of victims.
  • Don’t Fall Asleep (2:28): A young lady (Katy Ford; Selfie/Selfie 2) is nodding off in a police interrogation room. A little girl goes running by, snapping her awake. The detective (Justin Gubersky; Bring Out Your Dead) won’t believe her story about her boyfriend’s killer nightmare. The instant and unapologetic visual homage to A Nightmare on Elm Street includes deadly dreams, brightly dressed elusive children, and disorienting dream sequences. This features some of the best acting of any of Alex Magaña’s short film work.
  • Smiling Woman 5 (2:36): It’s Nurse Angela’s go in the sinister yellow dress, and the presence of Felissa Rose (Sleepaway Camp) in the titular role cannot be overstated here. She’s got the volume up to eleven on that leering smile, and she’s embracing the freaky physical movement. It’s a nice payoff to her short arc before passing the torch to the ubiquitous Katy Ford. There are frankly effective visuals this time with the window blind trickery and drug haze shot that accentuates a smooth glide into frame from Felissa that’s all kinds of nope. It’s good to see Magaña showing off the love he’s put into what’s clearly his baby from his growing brood of short films.

This is easily Magaña’s strongest batch of shorts to date. Now my only question is when does Alex Magaña get to stop sharpening the axe and begin really hacking through that tree? It’s not going to cut itself, you know.

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The Clown:
The Clown 2:
Invisible Man 2:
Don't Fall Asleep:
Smiling Woman 5:


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