Serial Kaller (2014) Review

serialkaller1SERIAL KALLER (Dir- Dan Brownlie, UK, 2014)

Starring- Debbie Rochon, Dani Thompson, Suzi Lorraine

Let’s get down to brass tacks here and state that SERIAL KALLER is not a great film. Whilst I can always appreciate and often see some positives in films, especially those of a low budget independent nature, sometimes when watching the latest screener you’ve been given to review you come across stuff that, rather than feel you need to lam-bast it and destroy it and bring down everyone involved to a low level to feel big on your critical throne, instead you end up seeing that what you are watching could have been done in such a better way and with better editing, acting, props etc. As usual I have seen some positives points in SERIAL KALLER (which we will get to later) however these positive points are mired, almost out classed by negative points throughout the film.

The film opens with a scantily clad woman walking through a corridor, who confronts a stranger who has her high heeled shoes. Said stranger dispatches the woman with the spike heel in the eye. We then cut to 30 years earlier flashback where a vainly obsessed and plastic surgery riddled women dismisses her only son in favour of getting more surgery and in this case he has some kind of Norman Bate’s obsession with her even though the mother is a bitch. In surgery the mother dies on the operating table and the chief plastic surgeon in charge delivers a brilliantly cynical if wooden speech stating that it was the patients decision to go under the knife and at the end of the day its not his responsibility as he gets paid anyway.

serialkaller4It’s one of the few bits of the film that I laughed at. We all know where this flashback is heading and soon we cut back to present day where a group of models who work on an Internet type Babe-station channel (one of those ones where scantily clad women talk dirty to drunken men calling in late at night at £5 a minute or something), consistently bitch about each other, moan about their dick of a producer and the creepy callers they get. After two of them disappear after a nightclub outing and when all of them are present to work the following night, it’s not long before someone is taking out the babes one by one and suspicion naturally falls on the male backstage crew or is it someone else? Will you care?

Despite the aforementioned scene from before of the cynical surgeon there is not much to garner or take from the opening 45 minutes of SERIAL KALLER. The first part drags on and on and starts to grate the nerves. To keep us interested you need to be a bit more faster in the approach and don’t need to pepper us with scenes of girls being bitchy to each other and to one prospective wannabe model (played by genre regular Debbie Rochon).

serialkaller3The bitchiness gets annoying fast and could have been cut down, same with the extended scenes in the nightclub which looks like one of the least busiest nightclubs around. Particularly baffling is the random killing of a cleaner in the nightclub which we presume is closed. It seemed pointless and only tacked onto have another kill yet did not fit the remit of this murderer especially if their target is the dolled up, fake tanned glamour models!? Why the cleaner then who was doing her job?

Admittedly things to start to kick off and grab you a bit more during the second part where the killings start to happen at the studio. However, again these drag on and some of the kills become a bit of the same and not that inventive which is whats needed, even though you are happy for them to get rid of these characters. The second half does though speed things up thankfully up until it’s inevitable and over the top conclusion, which despite it’s predictability is actual quite good in terms of performance, and, well OTT-ness. In oversight SERIAL KALLER would be one of these films that if taken more lightly and maybe done with a bit more sleaze and shall we say grind-house trashiness would have proved a more memorable experience.

serialkaller2Instead it’s a case of what could have been and despite the presence of Rochon, who does somehow elevate the film thanks in part to her performance, especially in the films final conclusion, there isn’t much to recommend here and whilst I appreciate the film-maker’s efforts you get the distinct feeling of saying to yourself ‘well if you did this scene that way and that scene that way then this would be a lot better.’

3/10

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’.

8/10

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An Interview with Dani Thompson by Dean Sills

dt1An Interview with Dani Thompson by Dean Sills

Hello Dani, welcome to UK Horror Scene. Thank you for giving us your time especially when you are a very busy lady, we really appreciate it, thanks!
DT – You’re welcome

UKHS – Before you became an actress you started out as a model doing all the major lads mags and newspapers including page 3 and front covers of the Daily Sport newspaper. Is the modelling part of your life firmly behind you now so you can focus more on your acting and writing?

DT – I haven’t completely stopped modelling, I don’t do the glamour stuff so much anymore but I still enjoy getting in front of a stills camera. I often do photoshoots to promote my films so I guess that’s still a form of modelling. I’m definitely focusing more on acting now but once a poser always a poser!

 

dt2UKHS – How did you get into acting especially in the horror genre and what is it about the horror genre that you enjoy so much?

DT – After modelling for so long I wanted a new challenge, I’d always wanted to act but I didn’t want to be one of those models who suddenly turn around one day and claim to be an actress so I went to drama school and studied hard so that I could be taken seriously and then while I was there I did a little bit of presenting for GZ magazine which was a horror mag, met a few horror filmy people and the rest was history, I’ve always been a horror fan, I love the genre so I’m glad I seem to have found my niche.

 

UKHS – Can you tell us about your role as Beccy in ‘Christmas Slay’ and what was it like filming in Bulgaria?

DT – She is the lead character Emma’s best friend which worked well as I was already friends with Jessica Ann Bonner who played Emma. Bulgaria was an interesting place, and we had quite a bit of free time to explore and go hiking in the hills.

 

dt4UKHS – ‘Cute Little Buggers 3D’ starring Caroline Munro (The Golden Voyage of Sinbad and The Spy Who Loved Me) is directed by Tony Jopia, with you playing the role of Becca. What actually are the Cute Little Buggers and will fans get treated to any close-up shots of your stunning breasts in 3D? 

DT – I can’t tell you exactly what the Cute Little Buggers actually are because I don’t want to ruin the surprise but I can tell you that they don’t stay cute for long! I haven’t seen any of the footage of the film so will fans get a close up 3D boobs shot? Who knows, it’s a possibility . . .

 

 
dt5UKHS – You co-wrote ‘Serial Kaller’ with the director, Dan Brownlie. How did the two of you come up with the idea for the movie and do you have any plans to write some more screenplays?

DT – Whilst I was at drama school I worked weekends on a daytime version of a babe show and sometimes it could get a little dull so in between calls I kind of came up with a what if scenario, what if the microphone was left on and the callers could hear the behind the scenes studio gossip, what if one of those callers was a little bit crazy, what would happen then? And I thought, this could make a great movie so I came up with the characters and wrote the original screenplay, then I took it to Dan and he gored up all of the death scenes.

Our original ‘final’ draft of the script is quite different to the finished film mainly due to investor type politics but you live and learn I guess. After Serial Kaller wrapped Dan wrote a treatment for another film that he had me write up in to a screenplay, it’s called Casa De Sangre and is set in Mexico and at the moment I’m working on a vampire script to add to the brand-B slate.

 

dt6UKHS- What other projects are you currently working on that you can tell UKHS about?

DT – Currently we’re in pre production on a film called Bad Moon Rising, it’s actually an idea I got whilst in Bulgaria filming Christmas Slay. Jess and I managed to go out and get some footage shot in our free time and we’re scheduled to film the rest of the movie this Summer in the UK. I’m also filming a Superhero movie this year in which I get to play the villain which is going to be a lot of fun.

 

UKHS – If you were stranded on a desert island, which three items would you want to have with you?

DT – My iPad so then I could watch movies, facetime people and keep up to date on social media. My Yorkshire Terrier, Dolly and some jelly shoes so that I could paddle in the sea.

 

 

dt3UKHS – Finally, what is the hardest role that you have had to play and do you go to extreme lengths to prep for your parts and stay in character?

DT – Hmmm that’s a tough question, the hardest was probably the birthing scene in Cute Little Buggers, it was fun but you’re reacting to things happening that aren’t really there. I haven’t had to go to any real extreme lengths yet but I’d definitely be prepared to.

UKHS – Thanks again Dani and keep up the great work.

And please look out for the soon to be published article on Dani’s latest film Bad Moon Rising !!

Click the links below to find out more about Dani and support her projects!

Dani Thompson – Official Page

Dani Thompson’s Facebook Page

Dani Thompson’s Twitter Account

Interview with Christmas Slay director Steve Davis by Dean Sills

cs6Interview with Christmas Slay director Steve Davis by Dean Sills

Synopsis – Christmas Slay

The story of ‘Christmas Slay’ begins on a wintry Christmas Eve in the picturesque Kentish countryside, the horrific murder of a loving family, and the capture of a Santa Claus obsessed blood thirsty killer. As Christmas dawns closer the following year, a group of college girlfriends decide to get away from it all and relax and party over the Christmas holiday, they decide to escape to the idyllic Mistletoe Lodge nestled within the beautiful snowy mountains of the Scottish Highlands, but what starts off as the perfect festive getaway of fun in the snow and a glass of eggnog or two, suddenly descends into a gruesome blood bath of terror, and a fight for survival.

Now you all know a little about this new Christmas Horror movie please welcome the director of ‘Christmas Slay’ to UK Horror Scene. Welcome Steve and thank you for talking to UKHS about your new movie.

OK, let’s get started with the questions, Steve.

UKHS – How and when did you first become interested in making films and why horror?

SD – I have always been interested in film and TV, I was bullied throughout most of my time at school so all my spare time was spend sat up in my room watching everything from Carry On’s to A Nightmare on Elm Street, but it was my families yearly holiday’s to Yorkshire and my Dad’s love of ITV’s Emmerdale Farm that first got me interested in the film-making process, every year we would visit the small village of Esholt and watch the show being made, which as a child I found truly fascinating and a little bit magical but it wasn’t until many years later when I had the privilege of meeting AD Lane and I became involved in his horror ‘Invasion of the Not Quite Dead’ that I decided that this is something that I really want to do.

 

cs1UKHS – Before we chat about your new movie ‘Christmas Slay’ Can you tell us a little about your previous work as an actor, writer, director and producer?

SD – I am still very new to the industry and with the exception of playing the lead in every single school production ( just one of the reasons I was bullied ) and a little bit of acting in other peoples projects, I haven’t really had a great deal of experience of acting in the outside world, but the main reason for this is because all my attention has been on ‘Invasion of the Not Quite Dead’ which I am currently a producer on, and obviously ‘Christmas Slay’ which I am the writer and producer of and which is to be my first attempt at directing, I have been asked to help produce and direct other peoples films but ‘Christmas Slay’ is my number one priority at the moment, and a lot of hard work, on its completion I may venture out there a bit more but I really want to concentrate on writing my next feature and I will also be collaborating on films with a few friends.

 

UKHS – What is the inspiration behind ‘Christmas Slay’?

SD – There is so much inspiration behind ‘Christmas Slay’, I would say pretty much every horror from the 1980’s, but in particular films such as the early Friday 13th’s, Halloween, Black Christmas, Silent Night Deadly Night and A Nightmare on Elm Street, I do enjoy modern day horror’s but I just love the look and feel from the classic stalk and slash genre, there’s a slight wobble to the camera, there sexy, there cheesy, they use practical FX, and there’s no CGI blood and gore, and I know its just my opinion, but to me that is what a stalk and slash horror is all about. And even though we will be going into production with our HD cameras, steadicams and sliders, its still a look I really hope to achieve.

 

cs2UKHS – You have an amazing cast including the great character actor Frank Jakeman. How did Frank Jakeman get involved with your film and is he a fan of your work?

SD- With the exception of the amazing James Payton we have so far only cast for our main shoot, but wow what a cast, for an indie film, I am honestly blessed to have such an amazing cast for ‘Christmas Slay’, there support and passion is just incredible, and its an absolute honour to have the extremely talented and beautiful Jessica Ann Bonner and Dani Thompson heading our line up with the legend that is Frank Jakeman.

I don’t really know what to say about Frank, apart from the fact that he really is a LEGEND, and even no you may not know the name, I can guarantee you would have seen him on TV or at the cinema at some point, I met Frank through AD Lane as he is the lead in his ‘Invasion of the Not Quite Dead’ and we hit it of straight away, he is just one of the nicest, most genuine people I have every had the privilege of meeting and its a honour to call him a friend, his acting talent is just unbelievable, and he has the ability to play any character with ease no matter how demanding the role, he will be playing the bad guy of ‘Christmas Slay’ and I know he will scare the shit out of a lot of people.

I had Frank in mind for the role of the bad guy before I even started on the script, and it was actually at AD Lane’s wedding in Wales that I first mentioned the concept of ‘Christmas Slay’ and Frank was in before I had even finished telling him about it, I honestly can’t say enough good words about him and his passion for the film, in fact he is so passionate he spent days drawing a very special piece of artwork for the project which we are offering in limited edition print through our website as one of our funding perks, I love the guy to bits.

I still haven’t decided how I am going to credit Frank in the end film credits yet though, Frank Jakeman or Frankie the Stripper, look it up on Youtube ( he will kill me for that later ).

 

UKHS – You will be filming in Bulgaria in February which will be quite a challenge. What can you tell us about the February shoot and how long will you be on location filming in Bulgaria?

SD – I have actually filmed in Bulgaria before, its a great place to shoot a movie, but the one thing I learned was not to rely on other people, we had so many wasted days due to waiting for props arriving, extras turning up etc… which is why this time round we are taking everything we need with us, ‘Christmas Slay’ is actually set in the Scottish Highlands but filming in Bulgaria has so many more advantages, the main one is cost as its a fraction of the price to film in Eastern Europe than it is to film here in the UK, the other reason is snow, which is a must for any Christmas based film, obviously you can’t guarantee snow but the village we are filming in is high up in the Balkans next to the biggest ski resort in Bulgaria, and February is usually there coldest month and when they have there greatest snow coverage so were fairly confident we will be filming in the white stuff.

We will be in Bulgaria for two weeks filming the main shoot with our main cast, and we are all very excited about getting over there and starting production.

 

 
cs4UKHS – If you could have Christmas dinner with three guests (living or dead), who would you choose and why?

SD – Ok that’s an interesting question, I will probable change my mind in a minute, but right now I would say Gordon Ramsey because he can cook the dinner and we both swear quite a bit ( him a LOT more than me), Vanessa Hudgens because she is serious eye candy and she can sing us festive songs while playing piano and Charles Dickens so he can recite A Christmas Carol, if I was lucky enough to be in a relationship that would change though and it would just be me and the missus ( if I had one ).

 

UKHS – Since it’s almost Christmas, do you have a favourite Christmas movie?

SD -I can’t say that I have a particular favourite Christmas movie, I pretty much love them all, but as long as I get to watch National Lampoons Christmas Vacation, Elf, Christmas with the Kranks, and the Santa Claus some time during December I am happy, with Christmas horror I have to watch Rare Exports and I will probably give Saint another watch too.

 

 
UKHS -Finally, when will we see the film get released?

SD – Well my aim is to have a complete ready to show film by the end of November 2014 in time to have a premiere around Christmas of that year, and as were fan funded it my priority that all the amazing people that have backed our film get to see ‘Christmas Slay’ first and before anyone else.

In terms of a general release its hard to give an indication of a date, and I am not 100% sure what route I want to take it, I will most certainly be doing everything I can to try and get some form of distribution overseas, especially in America, but I am very undecided about the UK, I am very tempted to self distribute here and take ‘Christmas Slay’ on a UK City tour through independent cinema and release the DVD through a website but I am not sure yet, it would be a dream come true to see Christmas Slay on a shelf next to the latest release in Tesco ( other stores are available) but I don’t no, I have a lot of thinking to do.

 

cs5UKHS – Thank you for your time Steve. Good luck with ‘Christmas Slay ‘ and the shoot in Bulgaria. Have a Merry Christmas and a successful 2014.

Image courtesy: Steve Davis

http://www.christmasslay.co.uk/

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