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Heavy Hitting HorrorFest welcomes you to the dead zone

Annual festival of original scary short films takes place at the Fairmont



In keeping with tradition, the 2014 Heavy Hitting HorrorFest will not be for the fainthearted, the loose-boweled or those with volatile tummies and easily outraged sensibilities.

And it should sell out, as it does every year — that's 1,100 fans of scary flicks.

"We've always given the filmmakers free rein, we don't want to impose too much in the ways of thematic regulations or guidelines. We've stayed with telling them to come up with whatever they want, stay under 10 minutes and away we go," says organizer (and Pique film columnist) Feet Banks.

He adds: "But over the years you give people free rein and they get weird. People push sexual deviancy and, also, it's interesting, but every year there seems to be something totally out of the blue that multiple filmmakers will have in their movies without talking to each other.

"One year it was castration, another it was baby head stomps. It's always some weird, really gross, creepy, horrific thing. There seem to be thematic commonalities. People are freaks and there is something in the collective unconscious that pushes them every year. We'll see what it's going to be this year."

That said, he personally prefers the traditional Halloween fare without the hacker-and-slasher options.

"We're the classic B-Grade horror guys. We like monsters and poltergeists and ghosts. We get a lot of torture porn submissions and we're bored with this after 10, 13 years, watching characterless torture films," Banks says.

"I've got nothing against torture or porn, so long as it services a story. The point of cinema is to tell stories. It's the way we're trying to grow the festival, grow creativity. It's easy to chase a girl with a knife. Come up with an alien with crazy laser-beam effects, that takes more creativity."

Revenge of the HorrorFest, as this year's incarnation of the night is called, takes place at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler on Thursday, Oct. 30. Cocktails and the filmmakers' red carpet is at 5:30 p.m. with films being shown from 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $50 and available at www.heavyhitting.com.

Some of the films even came from other countries — though that is not the focus.

"We've got a few more films from outside the corridor, but we are still keeping to my ideology of having things be 50 to 60 per cent local, growing the local talent pool and exposing the skills we have here in the valley and the corridor," says Banks.

The final film count has not yet been decided on.

"There are always good films coming in late. We've easily had 25 in so far and we'll probably have to cut some submissions," Banks says.

Awards include Best In Show, which takes home the Silver Skull trophy.

"We made it the very first year. (Co-founder) Chili Thom found an old bowling trophy, which was a big silver ball, and a silver skull. He took it up to Kyle Bubbs (of Molten Metalwork) in Pemberton and he built it. It opens up and there are shot glasses," he says.

"As the years went on we'd add the Best in Show names to it, like the Stanley Cup. And we added more layers, so now it's got saw blades and with a twisted metal base. It's the Stanley Cup of horror."

There will also be a magician and sideshow performers, plus Landyachtz Longboards is building a torture-themed photo booth with Whistler artists and Thom, Banks says.

DJ Vinyl Richie is spinning appropriately terrifying music and the night is followed by an official after party at Garfinkel's Nightclub. Expect a few shots with eyeballs.

"We'll show a few of the old movies there and the winning team will get a big bar tab for the night," Banks says.

Food — namely popcorn, candy and other Fairmont goodies — will also be available. There is also a cash bar.

Gibbons Life has come on board with financial support, and Canadian Wilderness has also contributed a donation and prizes, as has the Whistler Film Festival.

There is an admirable casualness about choosing the winner.

"Depending on how it goes, it may all go to one film or we may split it. If someone has a film they spent three months on and they spent $25,000 on it and there's an equally amazing film but the filmmaker spent two weeks on it and $500 and we're going to award both, if they are both worthy," Banks says.

There is also a People's Champion award, Best Actor and Actress awards and the Best Death Scene gets a handcrafted axe.

Banks contributes a piece to the festival every year, too.

"For me, at least, setting up the festival takes me away from time when I could be making a movie, but I also realize that there are other people making better movies than I could ever make. This year I've made a little fun one-scener, kind of a bumper into the intermission," he says.

"A lot of people count on it as chance to see some great movies and also to party."


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