Movie still from “Killer BBQ.”No one can outrun killer Jojo, played by Joe Garrison.

Beaver Creek could be Anytown in the Pass area.

It holds a secret: the town boasts the best barbecue joint around.

And the ingredients are a secret, too — some folks discover them the hard way, if they don’t become ingredients themselves.

The horror-thriller “Killer BBQ” preys upon the unsuspecting (and, well, even the suspecting): folks imprisoned, inspectors simply doing their jobs, inadvertent trespassers … all look like they taste great with a little barbecue sauce in the end.

The hour-long (one hour and five minutes) film is suspenseful enough, and does a good job keeping viewers guessing as to who might survive and still be left standing in the end.

It is the brainchild of director Joe Betancourt and Hollywood screenwriter Daniel P. Coughlin, and producer Rick Foster, and will have a showing at Banning's Fox Theatre at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 15.

A number of supporters and fans made it out to a showing at the Fox on Oct. 1.

Retired general contractor Steve Garrison, 66, was cast as one of the main roles, and plays one mean son-of-a-bitch as Sheriff Axl Hensler.

In person, Garrison is a nice enough guy.

But on film, he transforms into a sinister sheriff with a pension for fresh meat.

And he has a pitbull of a man, a former football player who’s never changed out of his uniform, that mows down potential candidates who might be worth a good grilling, with his helmet’s face mask as his tenderizer of choice.

The sheriff teams up with Bodean, a chef who makes people look really good.

Well, tasty, anyway, when they’re, shall we say, their true sizzling selves.

“It was supposed to be a slapstick little backyard horror film, but our screenwriter got sick halfway through production,” referring to Coughlin. “So I had to step in, and we kind of made it more serious” from that point on (30 pages in of a 92-page script) and transformed it into more of a drama thriller with a darker tone.

The experience was all new to Garrison, who had to learn about character development from Betancourt.

“It was really interesting. I’d never done anything like that. I never dreamed of being involved in movies. Now I’m looking forward to producing more with Joe — he’s got four scripts ready to go — and I blame you for that,” Garrison says, explaining that the casting call announced in the Record Gazette drew him to the project.

When he was let go from his last-ever job due to his struggle with cancer a decade ago, Garrison says he wasn’t really doing much before “Killer BBQ.”

The film has given him renewed purpose, he says. And, while he didn’t disclose his salary, he was paid to be in the movie as a lead.

Seeing him on screen was a little unsettling for his daughter-in-law Krystle Garrison of Cherry Valley.

Her husband Joe Garrison starred as football player Jojo in the film.

“I know them both as giant Teddy bears, so to see them like that was like, ‘Oh goodness’ — to see them turn into something so mean” was interesting for her to experience on screen.

The $3 million movie did not involve any SAG members, and was shot and edited within 10 months around Yucaipa, Oak Glen, Banning, Beaumont and Cherry Valley.

"We were there for their cast premier a few months ago," says Fox Theatre owner Damon Rubio. "We're obviously big fans of movies and filmmakers, and it's great to have a local filmmaker make it to the big screen."

Staff Writer David James Heiss can be seen as an extra in one scene of “Killer BBQ.”

Staff Writer David James Heiss may be reached at , or by calling (951) 849-4586 x114.


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Over the last year-and-a-half, the Banning Library District and the Friends of Banning Library have come together to produce a series of mini-documentaries, “Exploring the Pass,” about important places and events in the San Gorgonio Pass region.