Remember those fake guts you sadly packed away last year after learning Whistler's long-running B-Grade Horrorfest was going on hiatus?
Well dig those bowels and intestines out because the one-night festival is back from (near) dead. "We always intended to bring it back," says festival co-founder Feet Banks. "The festival is such a labour of love and it always has been. For a decade we would dedicate months to make sure this thing would happen and make sure we could spend a night with the local filmmaking community with a no-holds-barred, anything goes forum... The last one was such a doozy we decided to take a year off to give the filmmakers a chance to take a break and recharge — to give us a chance to recharge."
For 2013 the event has been renamed The Heavy Hitting Horrorfest, complete with a shiny new website that's ready to accept your submissions from now until Oct. 15. The films (or a selection of them, depending on how many are entered) will screen at a to-be-determined location on Oct. 30.
The new moniker was chosen, in part, because the old one was "a shitload of letters when you try to get a YouTube account," but also because the status of "b-grade" as an aesthetic is limiting, Banks says. Eventually, they hope to grow into a place that can accommodate all types of horror films. The marquee event, however, remains the B-Grade Throwdown, featuring short, spooky, campy, over-the-top films by both locals and filmmakers from far-flung places. Some years the top prize has been $10,000. Other years it's been $1,000. The top award has never been the point. (Though the skull trophy passed on from winner to winner with names carved into it Stanley Cup-style and filled with shot glasses and liquor is a definite motivator.) "It grew so slowly and the people who continue to come back year after year know what it will be like and that it will be worth it to suffer through long nights and stuff not going as planned or friends not showing up. It seems like a battle, but it's worth it," Banks says.
Banks and local artist/DJ Chili Thom started the festival back in 2002 — in the pre-YouTube era — after realizing the equipment they used to shoot ski movies was collecting dust during the summer. "We loved horror movies so we said, 'Let's make a shitty horror movie. We'll have a festival. We know a lot of people who make ski and snowboard movies. No one is doing anything in the fall,'" Banks says.
That first year, they received 10 films and screened them at the GLC. (At their peak they showed 30 flicks.) "It was a hit," Banks says. "People put in the time. People will work for days and put thousands of dollars into it to put a movie together just so they can come to the event, show 1,000 people and have them laugh at their jokes."
Also new this year, the event will conclude in an after party at the same location as the screenings. As Banks points out, they already have four massive screens, a sound system and booze. (The event has been adults-only for a few years.) "Instead we'll keep it fired up," he says.
The icing on the blood-and-guts cake? "We're going to have a grilled cheese sandwich booth."
For more information on submitting a film, visit www.heavyhitting.com.
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