Banjo (2015) Review

banjo1Banjo (2015)

Director: Liam Regan

Runtime – 82 mins

Starring: James Hamer-Morton, Damian Morter, Dani Thompson and Vito Trigo

Peltzer has an imaginary friend. Unfortunately for him, it’s Ronnie!

I recently watched ‘Banjo’ at Cutting Edge film festival in Newcastle and really enjoyed it. The film is a low-budget comedy horror with Liam Regan fabricating a comical but dark world about the frenulum, bullying, an imaginary friend and revenge. Think ‘Drop Dead Fred’ with a splash of blood and a nice portion of gore done in the style of the movies by Lloyd Kaufman, Michael Herz & Frank Henenlotter and you have ‘Banjo’ which Liam brings to the screen superbly in his own unique way. A nice exploitation horror movie with an edge which definitely does tick most boxes.

The story involves Peltzer Arbuckle (James Hamer-Morton), a weak and bullied office employee, made an embarrassment by his power-crazy boss (Vito Trigo), teasing work colleagues and his cheating partner (Dani Thompson). Peltzer spends his days and nights suffering, trapped in his own humdrum life. Once word gets out about his mortifying sexual accident around the workplace, Peltzer decides to put up with his humiliation no more, and conjures up his childhood imaginary friend Ronnie (Damian Morter). His world is soon unsettled, when Ronnie deviously attempts to manipulate Peltzer to exact revenge on his taunting co-workers in the most horrendous fashion.

banjo2The film is a little slow to begin with until Ronnie appears. Damian Morter does a superb job as Peltzer’s imaginary friend playing him over-the-top, caked in prosthetics and stealing every scene he appears in. Damian’s brilliant performance does remind me a little of Jim Carrey in ‘The Mask’. His scenes with James Hamer-Morton are all great to watch and James also gives a great performance as Peltzer. The bloody manhood scenes and the condom scene made me cringe and probably have the same effect on many male viewers but it was good to see it done in such a humorous way. I did also enjoy the acting from Serena Chloe Gardner as Melissa Lee Ray and Vito Trigo as Mr. Sawyer.

Credit to Liam for bringing together a fab mixture of British and American actors in his first feature along with small roles from Laurence Robert Harvey (The Human Centipede 2 & 3) and a cameo from Lloyd Kaufman (Mr Troma) which are exciting to see on screen. Sadly I did find Dani Thompson a little wooden at times in her role as Deetz Montgomery but overall her role was still fun to watch. The film delivers some great vulgar one-liners and endless slapstick gore and entertains in every scene but I did feel the ending was a little flat considering how good the rest of the film was.

banjo3Director Liam Regan made this feature following on from the success of his short film ‘Confessions Of Peltzer’ which also screened at Cutting Edge and is one of the segments in ‘Self Induced Nightmares’. I look forward to seeing what Liam Regan will do next in the indie film world, for a first time feature he should be really proud of what he has achieved with his feature ‘Banjo’.

‘Banjo’ is a superb comedy horror which may not be for everyone but if you love the movies of Troma you will definitely love ‘Banjo’.


An Interview with the Zombies from The Eschatrilogy: Book of the Dead by Dean Sills

An Interview with the Zombies from The Eschatrilogy: Book of the Dead by Dean Sills


Our own Dean as a zombie

This interview is extra special in so many ways. First of all it’s my 50th interview at UKHS, it’s also actually two years this weekend since I first worked on a feature film. This honour goes to the stunning Zombie flick,
‘The Eschatrilogy: Book of the Dead’, the film is out on DVD in the USA next week . I am delighted to bring 12 of the zombies to UKHS for a chat. Please welcome Louise Beaumont, David Alexander, Michael Boyce, Kelly Buckley, Tony Cartwright, Tony Crookes, Beverley Jacques, Paul Sutton, Andy Troth,Victoria Vardy,Sarah Tatkat Wilson and Jayne Wylie.

UKHS – Louise, before we begin I just want to say a huge thank you because you are the person who first contacted me from Safehouse Pictures UK regarding the work as a Zombie extra. I was truly bitten by the acting bug working on this thanks to Damian Morter, Nicola Morter and all the cast and crew.

I love the scene where you are eating the cat. I know you are a cat owner and animal lover so how difficult was it filming this scene and did you use any visualization techniques to make it look so realistic?

Louise – I found it a little strange as I had a cat at home but the actual cat’s body was made from a hairy cushion that belonged to me which was dyed black for effect. I am also a vegetarian but I really enjoyed doing the scene, acting it out came surprisingly easy, my thought process was, I have no feelings, I’m hungry and tried not to have any emotion in my face. The director gave me a few pointers with the arm banging on the fence but the rest of it came from my own initiative. Absolutely loved the experience.

escds1UKHS – David, the next question goes to you. Damian Morter brings to the screen his stunning storytelling and makes the movie come alive with his unique filmmaking. What makes Damian so special as a superb filmmaker and storyteller and how proud are you to have worked on this film?

David – It’s got to be that he is driven by the image and the story in his head and will not let anything get in the way of that image, not money, weather, dickheads or the police. On top of all that he’s a cool guy, he’s got the time of day for people, no ego. It was an absolute privilege and an honour to get to play out a childhood fantasy, as I’ve been a horror fan all the way back to the days of the Hammer House of Horror and a big Romero fan and I like how Damian has stayed true to the genre but put in his own special twist.

UKHS – Michael,what’s your best memory of working on The Eschatrilogy: Book of the Dead?

Michael – This was my first experience being an extra in a film, the film crew became like an extended family. I met some amazing people along the way, from all walks of life, we had to amuse ourselves between filming to keep warm, we even gave the well know ‘Thriller’ dance a shot. Pamela Clare, the makeup artist was our choreographer, she did it so slow we couldn’t stop laughing at her. We all call Pamela, ‘PC’ but we nicknamed her ‘More Blood’ because she enjoyed making us drink blood for the shoot, this was stage blood not real blood , she covered us with it and then she came back with more blood.

escds2UKHS – Kelly, you became great friends with Paul Sutton during the filming. I love working with Paul, he makes every shoot so much fun.What was the funniest moment you had on set with him and all the other Zombies?

Kelly – The best part of being involved in ‘The Eschatrilogy’ was definitely the people I met, including my partner Tim. There were so many laughs and good times on set, making up zombie songs and parodies or doing daft dances to keep warm between shots. I think my favourite memory is of the poor dog walker who was so terrified at the site of 50 odd zombies she practically crawled through the boot of her car to escape us. I’m hoping she wasn’t too traumatised after, although she did get her picture taken with us all once she’d calmed down.

UKHS – OK, next question goes to Tony Cartwright. You were probably the most scariest Zombie on set. How long did it take you to get into character and which scene did you enjoy working on the most?

Tony Cartwright – Really!! Me, the most scariest haha! I like it, I would say, when I first joined the set, the year before completion, I was so nervous and it probably came out as looking scary. It was the first film set I had been on, everyone was so friendly, cast and crew, that I couldn’t wait for the next shoot. The awesome makeup artists helped me get into character with latex etc. I loved the scene where we had to chase the car, it took a few takes and me almost getting run down, when he reverse the car. But we had a great laugh that day with great people and the excitement/adrenaline rush running after the car, lots of blood and gore and a great director, Damian Morter. This film gave me the buzz to do more extra work.

escds5UKHS – Next question goes to Tony Crookes. Tony, I love that fact a few of us from ‘The Eschatrilogy’ have gone on to work on a number of other projects. What do you enjoy most about acting and how much fun did you have playing a Zombie in The Eschatrilogy: Book of the Dead?

Tony Crookes – Yeah! It was awesome and I loved every Minute filming ‘The Eschatrilogy’ and meeting all the friends from the set. Well, the most I enjoy is seeing how different everyone is and how passionate people get . As an actor you can be crazy and be someone your not and no one will judge you . As a crazy guy I am, it’s so for me as every job, every director and every set is different. I was on set 3 full days of ‘ The Eschatrilogy’ and out of the films and TV I have done it has to be the one I remembered the most. How Damian, the director got everyone involved and he made you feel like you were a real zombie.The other people I met on set some are good friends as we are a zombie family now.The most fun I had was getting blood and mud thrown all over me and trying to catch someone to bite. It was awesome and I’m so honoured to be involved in the film.

UKHS – Beverley, you played a Zombie and a call handler at the Police station in the film. Which role did you enjoy playing the most and why?

Beverley – This is a difficult one Dean….I love being made up with all the blood & gore as a Zombie & on this occasion felt that I would miss out on the fun. However we had such fun doing the call handling awaiting being
eaten by hungry Zombies.This was mainly due to the great team I worked with. I must admit as we awaited the Zombies climbing the stairs I did get more & more scared. Damien did say when they burst through make sure the scream can be heard. Well, all I can say is that my mate Jayne could hear me in the basement & I was on the top floor.In fact they had to calm me down after I was that scared, haha! Very happy memories working with a very talented team.

escds4UKHS – Paul, ‘The Eschatrilogy’ was the first feature film you worked on. What made it so special and inspired you to do more zombie and acting work and go from being an extra to a supporting actor on a number of different projects?

Paul – The atmosphere on set and the people I met that day without a doubt. All these people who live within a 10 mile radius of me, and I’d have never met them without this film. Several are now close friends and some (including yourself Dean!) I’ve been fortunate enough to act with on other films. I also give complete credit to Damian and Nicola Morter for their friendly, fun attitude on set – had we gone onto the set of the film and it’d been a crap atmosphere, with a shouty, miserable director and a serious crew I wouldn’t have caught the bug to be in more films. Even in miserable conditions they kept us happy, entertained and the camaraderie on the set made us all a family. I’ve always loved acting and did 4 years of youth theatre. This film reawakened my love of acting and I’m blessed that I’m now getting to show people what I can do and am getting featured and lead roles in some very good films. Damian created a monster!

UKHS – Andy, I believe you worked on most of the segments in the film. Which scene did you enjoy the most and what was it like working for a superb company like Safehouse Pictures UK?

Andy – I enjoyed the ‘police station’ scene best, as there were fewer Zombie extras involved and therefore the makeup artists could spend longer on each person’s ‘look’. I felt that everyone at Safehouse Pictures was extremely dedicated to the project, hardworking and above all, eager to ensure that the film lived up to its full potential.

escds8UKHS – Victoria, on a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate ‘The Eschatrilogy: Book of the Dead ‘ alongside other Zombie films and did you enjoy playing a Zombie.

Victoria – I would rate the film as an 8. It’s definitely up there with the rest and that’s not just because I’m in it, haha! I like the storyline and the fact its 3 stories from 3 different perspectives which all come together at the end. I do, it’s opened up a whole new world of scare acting for me plus we have the Zombie for hire group called Zee team events.

UKHS – Sarah, Can you tell us a little about the zombie makeup process and what was it like getting covered in fake blood and mud each day?

Sarah – At first it was a strange feeling but everyone was so nice and friendly I soon forgot what I looked like and just got on with doing the best job I could. I really enjoyed the process and learned a lot from the MUA. I found it really exciting to be there and get covered in blood and mud by professionals.

UKHS – The last question goes to Jayne.The first time you saw the film what was your immediate reaction and do you have a favourite scene?

Jayne – I felt really proud and happy to have been given the opportunity to take part in an amazing film! It’s odd seeing yourself on the big screen and I must admit the first time I saw it I spent most of the time looking for myself and friends and remembering where the scenes took place and what fun we had filming it! I think one of my favourite scenes (cos there are a few!) is the scene in the police station where Clay is coming down the stairs and sees the Zombies for the first time, his face is a picture!!

escds3UKHS – Zombies, thank you for your time.I truly wish we could all get together much more often because you guys rock! Apologizes to all the other Zombies from ‘The Eschatrilogy’ who I could not include in this interview.

The DVD (Region 1) will be released on 20th May and is available to pre-order at HERE

Image courtesy: The Zombies.Makeup artists: Pamela Clare and Anne Derbyshire.





The Eschatrilogy: Book of the Dead (2012) DVD Review

esc4The Eschatrilogy: Book of the Dead (2012)

Director: Damian Morter

Starring: Tim McGill Grieveson, Damian Morter, Paul Collin-Thomas, David Frampton, Sam Cullingworth, Stuart Wolfenden, Sarah Jane Honeywell.

At this moment in time, more and more Zombie horror flicks are getting churned out than chocolate at Mr. Willy Wonka’s factory. Most of them fall flat on their faces just like a dozen zombies being shot in their bloody heads with a huge shotgun but this little gem from Safehouse Pictures UK works on so many levels, thanks to the brilliance of Damian Morter. I definitely recommend checking this one out!

The story begins with a young man called Matthew who seeks refuge in a secure compound in the hills, spending his days continuously picking up the remains of the dead from the roadside and burning them on his fire.

One day Matthew encounters Cal, a mysterious stranger who walks into his camp and passes out in front of him. Matthew takes the stranger in, checking out Cal’s belongings, he comesacross a book, The book documents 3 events of horror which Cal has experienced. Matthew soon learns how the world became full of monsters. The Eschatrilogy: Bookof the Dead gives us three amazing stories which charts three stages of a zombie outbreak. ‘Dead Inside’,’The Dying Breed’ and ‘A Father for the Dead’.

esc1The first story ‘Dead Inside’ follows the story of a father who leaves his wife and daughter late one evening while he goes to work to finish a job off. He comes across an accident on the road and we soon see the story unfold with pure terror.

‘The Dying Breed’ is my favourite part of this movie. A young man named Alex, armed only with a baseball bat, navigates the streets of hell with zombies at every corner.

‘A Father for the Dead’ follows a father and his son out on the road looking for safety. The two of them soon find a place to take refuge, not knowing other survivors are inside along with hundreds of zombies closing in.

Damian Morter brings to the screen his stunning storytelling and makes a vision come alive along with Dean Hinchcliffe’s fabulous digital photography throughout the movie. Damian and his wife Nicola, the producer, made a bloody good movie here that I believe will stand the test of time and for a micro-budget indie film this is superb. The locations are outstanding from the Zombie overrun housing estate to the ruined farmhouses. Most of the actors in this are new and it may show a little at times but the film does display some very unique characters along with some really fine acting performances from Tim McGill Grieveson as Matthew, Damian Morter as Cal, Paul Collin-Thomas as Alex, Nicholas Dare as David, Chris Orton as a psycho priest and the two youngsters Fransesca Turton and Flynn Allen. A number of recognizable faces are also in The Eschatrilogy:Book of the Dead including Sarah Jane Honeywell (from Children’s TV show Tikkabilla) and Stuart Wolfenden (Dead Man’s Shoes,Prisoners Wives)

esc3The make-up is also superb in this unlike many other indie horror films and the film score is fantastic. I would love to see the soundtrack available on CD to buy or as a download.

Safehouse Pictures UK is certainly an independent film company to watch out for in the future.

The film will be released on DVD later this year. In the meantime, check out the trailer and look out for updates at

Picture courtesy: Damian Morter