A B-Grade bloodbath 

How a short film about a weed-smoking Jesus evolved into an annual festival with an audience of over 1,000


What: B-Grade Horror Fest

When: Saturday, Oct. 30, 6 p.m.

Where: Fairmont Chateau Whistler, Macdonald ballroom

Cost: $20

The trick-or-treaters might be making the rounds on a Sunday night this year, but the true Halloween haunting is going down the night before, on Saturday, Oct. 30, when the beloved annual B-Grade Horror Fest unveils the latest and greatest of their short film creepy creations.

But what are the real roots of this popular homegrown film festival? Well, it can all be traced back to 2002 and Pique 's own film critic, Feet Banks, and his friend and fellow filmmaker, Chili Thom. Feet had wrapped work on a ski film called Parental Advisory, and they realized they had all this camera equipment at their disposal.

"We were sitting around talking about a Superhero Weedsmoking Green Jesus and (Chili) was the one who said, 'Let's make this movie, and have a festival to show it and whoever else wants to make a movie can show theirs, too,'" Banks recalled.

"And the rest is history, but the initial concept was his. It started out as something to do for fun with our friends and it still is that today, we just have more friends."

They made their film about the ganja-loving saviour, but quickly realized they had nowhere to show it to people. So they decided to host a screening at the GLC on Halloween, spreading the word for others to make their own films. The concept was a hit even in that first year, with nine original films screened.

Now, B-Grade Horror is a special genre of horror.

"It's just obviously second-rate," Banks laughed. "It goes back to the old days where they would be showing double-features in drive-ins and people were knocking off these cheap movies, like It Came From The Lagoon or Giant Martian Women or anything like that. They were just knocking off these cheap pictures so that they could have films to show at the drive-ins, at the two-for-one theatres, and they weren't using A-list actors and they had very limited budgets."

So, the name of the game was quantity, not quality.

"As with anything, the people that are kind of working under the radar are a lot of the times doing the innovative stuff because they can't just throw money at their problems."

But as Banks points out, some accomplished actors and directors got their start in the genre.

"Jack Nicholson was in an old Roger Corman movie before he did anything, or Johnny Depp was in Friday the Thirteenth. Peter Jackson's first movie was called Bad Taste and it's about aliens who come down and eat peoples' brains, and then he made Dead Alive, which is where people are killing zombies with lawnmowers," he paused. "All kinds of these talented, talented people started off (in b-grade). James Cameron, the first movie he directed was Piranha 2."


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