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Sunday, 3 November 2013

BANJO - A feature length British horror movie.

Peltzer has an imaginary friend... Unfortunately for him, it's Ronnie!
Do I have to tell you once again, dear reader, just how much I'm in awe of the scale of ambitious and dedicated independent horror filmmakers out there at the moment? Do I also have to tell you once again that the work produced may vary markedly between distinctly average and distinctly brilliant? While I'm at it, do I have to say yet again just how bloody jealous and frankly downright annoyed at the skill and innovation that many of theses indie film producers possess? No? Well it's OK, I'm not going to blather on about that sort of thing again, so don't roll your eyes there you at the back!

What I will say again is how lucky I am as a result of spending a year now scribbling my musings of self-indulgence on this blog, to be asked by some of these filmmakers to help in whatever small way I can in order to promote their work. Take today for example when I received a message from an Sheffield-based independent film company called SAFEHOUSE PICTURES UK asking if I could put together a little something for their upcoming feature length horror movie - Banjo. 

Now of course I can't say yes to every request that comes along at the moment as my rampant ego has already meant that I already currently have three other posts (new DVD reviews) on the go plus an overdue entry or two for my cricket blog - Well bowled, Harold, which can be reached HERE if you are also a fellow lover of god's own game as well as a sci-fi/fantasy/horror obsessive......and if you are then you have obviously as little life as I do. Don't worry, we'll go quietly but happily insane together. 

However, in this case, my unrestrained ego's interested was peaked not only by the plot outline of Banjo that that I received, but also due to two other reasons. Firstly, Safehouse Pictures UK hail from a city in England where I spent quite a few years of my life. It was a place where my children were born (yes they still of talk to me......) and where I still have many friends and memories. Though the memories are not all great as it never really felt like home, yet having left the city several years ago for a blissful area of the North East of Scotland though this exiled Yorkshireman still has some emotional link to the area.

Well it seems to be rather more than coincidence (unless I'm being as paranoid as usual) that since I left Sheffield the independent movie scene seems to have expanded immeasurably. For a start, a couple of weeks ago the city hosted it's very own horror film festival 'Celluloid Screams' at the Showroom cinema which provided a blend of the best new genre cinema from across the globe, a handful of classic horror films and extraordinary short films from the fearmakers of the future......and I missed it. Though I must give a public thank-you to Mr Lee Skinner for sending me the link and info to the event, though time and life's general annoyances (work, etc) meant that a desired blog entry never materialised. Next year, definitely. 

The 2nd movie from Safehouse Pictures UK
Add to that, new hungry film companies in the area such as the aforementioned SAFEHOUSE PICTURES UK which has been in existence only since 2010 after being formed by husband and wife team Damian and Nicola Morter (There you go look, more young, talented and jealous-inducing talent). The company's explicit desire was to produce both innovative and commercial feature films to showcase their talent within the UK. Their first feature film Bicycle Day was produced on a micro-budget of just £90 (yes I wrote that amount correctly) which shows that hard work and dedication through storytelling are essential ingredients needed to create an entertaining and thought provoking visual picture. From what I can gather, the film received excellent reviews and festival success..

Their next film The Eschatrilogy: Book Of the Dead (2012) takes the form of the contemporary fashion (and some may say obsession) for the zombie genre and is something of an anthology piece. I have yet to see this movie myself (hint - Nicola or Damian!) but details make interesting reading, noticeably a 700-strong cast instantly providing the film something of an  epic proportion. The film premiered on October 2012 at the GRIMM UP NORTH film festival in Manchester, and has has played film festivals worldwide, in countries such as America, South Africa and Germany. Yes the Zombie genre may well be soon reaching saturation point but I firmly believe there is still room in the horror world for good, intelligent Zombie-themed productions. However, if ever the character of Darryl is ever killed off in The Walking Dead then I may well change my mind!

Banjo will be be the next in-house Safehouse Pictures UK production, if funding of the £5,000 production budget is successful via their Kickstarter campaign - details of which are below. The company is supremely confident they they are able to make this movie on such a low budget, using the very best cinematography, sound design, editing, grading and producing that they pride themselves on. Dammit, they sound as if they know what they are talking about.

The third reason why I was keen to look further into this venture was the director , or rather, his recent career collaboration - but more of that a little later. Lets first talk more about the plot of the upcoming movie shall we? Sounds like a plan.

Lovable ol' Ronnie
The Plot: 

Banjo follows a bullied office worker named Peltzer, who is humiliated daily by his fellow colleagues and cheating spouse.

Once news about his embarrassing bedroom accident makes it's way around the workplace, Peltzer decides to put up with his torment no longer, and conjures up his childhood imaginary friend "Ronnie" through the use of a Ouija board.

Peltzer's world is soon turned upside down, as Ronnie attempts to manipulate him to exact revenge on his tormenting co-workers in the most gruesome fashion. In this twisted tale of romance and revenge. 

A short promotional trailer for Banjo was shot earlier this year based on the screenplay to help generate interest and the production budget for the feature length movie through Kickstarter. The trailer shoot lasted one week and was filmed on location in Sunny South Yorkshire in England.  

THE TRAILER can be viewed here

Just watching that clip - I ask you just what is not to like? Fine production, good acting and  a rather gorgeous Roxanne McConnell who provides in no small measure a certain amount of deliciousness to the part of the cheating spouse 'Deetz'. Add to that a prosthetic Ronald Reagan imaginary friend - what more could you want?

The youtube clip can also be found (together with extra behind-the-scenes photos) on this blog's Facebook page at 

As I mentioned earlier, the 3rd reason that my interested was stirred was the the director, Liam Regan and his recent working collaboration yet again makes me feel rather jealous, annoyed and impressed all in equal measures. For it turns out that just a year ago in the summer of 2012 Liam only went and worked with a certain Lord of the Troma film, Mr Lloyd Kaufman - yes, only the bloody creator of The Toxic Avenger himself! The most recent of Troma productions featured Mr Regan as a production assistant under Lloyd for Return to Nuke 'Em High: Volume 1 (2013) and the upcoming Return to Nuke 'Em High: Volume 2 (2014). If that wasn't enough to tempt ones interest then this year Liam found himself in a certain prestigious film festival in the South of France to take part in the production on the documentary sequel to Troma's All the Love You Cannes! (2001) titled; Occupy Cannes! (2014) which will be released in 2014.

Liam (left) with Lloyd doing a rear-lobotomy
on the Toxic Avenger 
Photo by Dan Moxon – © Cincest Films
So this guy is young, talented, has worked with a veritable god of cinema, has a feature length movie in pre-production and a sparkling career in front of him that may well bring critical acclaim, fame and riches. But is he really happy?........ 

The fact that he has worked with Lloyd Kaufman is impressive and annoying in equal measures as I was supposed to speak to and interview Lloyd for this blog in the earlier this year, but due to infringing personal circumstances I was unable to - bugger. Well it's never too late.

From my hours and hours of extensive research (well OK, I exaggerate slightly) it seems that the concept of Banjo has been Liam Regan's passion piece for the past few years. Initially having developed from a story, to a short film, the project is now in it's current embodiment; a feature length movie......So, let's find out more, dear reader whether Mr Regan can back this bold venture with a convincing answer to my probing and cunning questions.

(FD) OK matey, Impress me with some detail.

(LR)......"Banjo is basically a morality tale, in which the meek shall inherit the earth by gaining revenge and retribution over his tormentors. I've always described this project as Drop Dead Fred (1991) meets Basket Case (1982) due to the uncontrollable imaginary friend aspect mixed with the underground grand guignol stylisation..."

(FD) Well that sounds suitably good and all that, but what gives you the idea that you have what it takes in the horror field?

(LR) "........ I have been a fan of the horror genre since I was five years old, I would walk into my local video rental store and quickly navigate my way to the horror section. I instantly got goosebumps each time by just looking at the video covers, and being mesmerised by the art-work and the still photos found on the back of the video cases..."

Cast & crew of the trailer - but can Liam
really play that Banjo...we need to be told!
(FD) Yeah yeah so you grew up loving horror, but there are certain things I miss about some of the current movies that many certain others had back in the day - I bet you can't guess what they are!

(LR) "........ These movies were fun, over the top, character based, exploitation horror movies with an edge. They knew no boundaries, and it seems that in today's genre, everybody is trying to play it safe, and be everything to everybody, thus becoming a carbon copy generic shell of what the genre originally birthed. I truly miss the envelope pushing, twisted movies that I grew up watching. With Banjo, I want to bring back the sensibilities of the exploitation genre, and add a fresh dash of dark British humour..."

(FD) Er, bugger, you nailed that answer. OK, so what makes you think this project is going to work?

(LR) "........ With the cast and crew that we have secured for Banjo, we can bring this feature length movie to life on such a low budget. Working with Safehouse Pictures UK is a true blessing, because here you heave the heart of the independent British film industry. A select group of filmmakers, with like-minded beliefs and passion towards the horror genre. I was literally blown away by the production value on their latest movie The Eschatrilogy: Book of the Dead (2012) when I discovered the little budget they had..."

(FD) OK dammit, I'm hooked. You may as well reel me in.

(LR) "... I want to replicate the production value of the movies I grew up watching, with the heart of a truly independent film, that takes no prisoners and doesn't insult fans of the genre. If we're able to receive our principal photography production goal of £5,000 via Kickstarter, then Banjo will begin production in May 2014."

(FD) And finally Liam, could you give me Lloyd's personal contact number please?

(LR) .....................................................................................

(FD) Er Liam, Liam...... you still there?...........

So there you have it. It all sounds a rather promising doesn't it? I must admit that yet again, I simply cannot wait to see the finished product, I think it may be rather good. I think I may be waiting though for that telephone number, methinks.
This brand new feature length genre film only has 28 days to be funded via the crowd funding platform Kickstarter at the following link  RIGHT HERE If the team are able to meet their production budget of £5,000 by November 27th, Banjo will go into production in May 2014. 

Sheffield-based film company Safehouse Pictures UK can be reached HERE

To learn more about the project and behind the scenes information, please like them on Facebook and check out their official website:

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