Good morning film fiends! Now that the Royal Wedding shenanigans are over and done with and we’re all recovering from the weekend barbecue hangovers, The Stricken Land’s weekly missive is here to cheer you all up on the morning commute with some upcoming celluloid goodness –

There’s nothing we love more than a bit of Euro-action, and the independent action thriller production THE HITMAN AGENCY, about competing hitmen in a web of conspiracies by writer/director Dominik Starck, just hit VOD with a release on Amazon Instant Video.

Shot with an international cast – including 11 time kickboxing champion Don ‘The Dragon’ Wilson – and just a fistful of euros, this underdog-production with compelling storytelling also makes its film market debut in Cannes looking for further worldwide distribution. Starck, a writer and producer on the “Krautsploitation” action film ATOMIC EDEN, starring Fred ‘The Hammer’ Williamson and Lorenzo Lamas, delivers his action thriller for fans of martial arts, multi-layered stories, and self-financed independent genre films to audiences worldwide and even before the movie’s premier in his home country Germany.

“Making an indie film is close to being a hitman; choose your goal, aim and go after it no matter the obstacles. And like assassinations, it’s a hit and miss with movies. I consider our movie the latter but it’s up to the target audience to decide if that’s the truth or not,” says Starck, the writer/director. While the German independent production by Starck Entertainment and R.J. Nier Films is represented by distributor Generation X Group GmbH at the film market in Cannes (May 8th to 17th) for international sales, the US audience is the first to be able to watch THE HITMAN AGENCY on where it’s available for rent and buy.

The movie is the directorial debut of writer/producer Dominik Starck who previously worked on the award winning mercenary action film ATOMIC EDEN, starring Blaxploitation legend Fred ‘The Hammer’ Williamson and Lorenzo Lamas (RENEGADE). While being a deliberately different type of movie, THE HITMAN AGENCY features a special appearance by 11 time kickboxing champion Don ‘The Dragon’ Wilson from BLOODFIST-fame. Starring American-born Erik Hansen (THE COUNTESS) and LA-based Everett Ray Aponte (ATOMIC EDEN) as competing hitmen from different ends of their assassin-careers, THE HITMAN AGENCY is a character-driven conspiracy-thriller with twists and turns, spiced with some martial arts outbreaks and assassinations. Shot on locations in Germany in English with more blood, sweat, and tears than a real budget, this underdog movie is proof to the phrase that nothing can stop you from making a movie when you really want it. Not even in Germany where there’s no platform for genre films at all.

THE HITMAN’S AGENCY is now available to rent and buy at


The highly acclaimed sci-fi noir thriller 2047 : Virtual Revolution, starring sci-fi icon Jane Badler (“V”) and Mike Dupod (“Arrow”), premieres on VOD June 12 from Lidderdalei Productions.

The year is 2047. Most of the world’s population live inside corporate-controlled virtual worlds and drift further out of touch with reality. Nash, a private investigator/ mercenary is hired to track down a group of hackers who are disrupting and terrorizing the virtual space in a bid to free human beings from their online prisons.

Guy-Roger Duvert’s stunning sci-fi thriller, the recipient of over 40 awards, including Best Film at the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival Awards and Best Feature at Dragon Con, makes its long-awaited premiere on VOD June 12.

On a final note –  to any aspiring independent filmmakers, podcasters or film related writers out there out there reading this, let me know if you’d like me to publicize and/or review your projects, The Stricken Land is always happy to promote new talent and ideas! And as ever, please feel free to share this post and any others on here that you like, far and wide.

Spread the Word!

Joby Stephens and Adam Kirley are the producer and writer/director respectively behind the recently released short fan film ROGUE TROOPER: THE QUARTZ MASSACRE. Based on the classic comic strip written by Gerry Finley-Day and drawn by Dave Gibbons, Rogue Trooper first appeared in the the legendary British anthology comic 2000AD in 1981.

Set in the far future in the midst of a galaxy spanning war between two rival human factions, the Norts and the Southers, the strip centred on the exploits of the eponymous character, a ‘Genetic Infantryman (GI) bio engineered to survive the toxic environment of Nu Earth, a strategically vital planet poisoned by decades of chemical and biological warfare. When his fellow GI’s are wiped out in a Nort ambush, Rogue is left to wander the ruined landscape in search of the traitor responsible accompanied only by his bio-chips – the downloaded personalities of three fallen comrades.

Here at the The Stricken Land, we are big 2000AD fans, and after the success of the JUDGE MINTY and STRONTIUM DOG fan films, we got very excited when we heard about a Rogue Trooper short being in the works, and both Adam and Joby kindly agreed to our interrogation. Read on…

TSL We think THE QUARTZ MASSACRE really succeeds in distilling the spirit of the original strips from the early 80’s. Tell us a bit about yourselves and how you came to put together a Rogue Trooper short.

AK I’ve worked in the film industry for 18 years in the stunt department. 12 years as a stunt performer and the last 6 years as a stunt coordinator. I was a big collector of comics as a kid, In particular 2000AD characters. I always thought Rogue Trooper was a great character and would make a great film. Myself and Joby have talked for over 10 years about making a short film of the character and then we both had a window of time between projects so we fast tracked the production.

JS I’ve worked in various roles in the film, tv and games industry for over 15 years and first worked with Adam on a short film called Project One about 14 years ago. Adam has always mentioned and talked about Rogue Trooper as one of his favourite comic books. Seven years ago we found a location that could potentially work and then two years ago we recce’d the location with Damien to talk ideas through. Schedules and timings dictated the rest and when we saw a window of opportunity early last year we decided to go for it. No production is easy, but this one certainly was a challenge we enjoyed!

TSL Considering it’s a 6 minute independent fan made film, THE QUARTZ MASSACRE has some impressive looking production values. How did you go about putting together the props and visual effects?

AK That was the main goal all along. If we we’re going to make Rogue it had to look right. We had a long journey with the VFX and ended up finding what I referred to as Our “Wizard” Steve Green who has made a couple of 2000AD fan films himself, Judge Minty and Strontium Dog. He was a perfect fit for this project because he knows the subject matter so well so building the environment and effects was a painless process.

JS We tested ex-army NBC suits we could pick up online, came up with concepts for the Norts helmets and tubes on mood/idea board and arrived at a look which was just about achievable in the few weeks we had before filming was to take place. We wanted Gunnar, Helm and Bagman to all feel and compliment each other in style (and rightfully so!).
I remember spending quite a bit of time discussing Gunnar with Adam. We had a really nice mood board and a few rifles that would work, yet they would all be easily recognised. The awesome guys at Airsoft World in Scotland agreed to bastardise and 3D print parts to create a unique practical firing Gunnar from our ideas. A completely unique one-off! I remember Rogue’s helmet being the last piece of the main jigsaw puzzle to sort. The first design we had to completely scrap due to the look just not being right. The bulbous style from the comic books sadly wouldn’t work.
I remember watching a documentary on Channel 4 and spotting a presenter wearing a kayak helmet that with some imagination looked very similar to a style of Rogue we had seen in a comic book! Luckily the brand and name were on the helmet so we purchased two bright blue kayak helmets.. after some design and modification to complement the already formed Bagman we finally had Helm. Mike Lawson did a fantastic job bringing Helm and the GI chips to life!.
Time wise we cut this very fine, and the first time we had Bagman, Helm and Gunnar together with the chips was one day before filming, in fact, at one point we had Gunnar being made in Scotland. Bagman (a foam and fibreglass version) being fabricated in Rochester in a garden shed and Helm was being created via the two blue kayak helmets I sent up north.

TSL Even though the film is a not for profit adventure, did you approach Rebellion (publishers of 2000AD and the owners of the rights to Rogue Trooper) before embarking on the project? Have you had any feedback/blessings from them since the film went live on YouTube?

JS We organised our costume, props, cast, crew and equipment within weeks – our main aim was to just get it filmed! Even going into post as the months dragged on I was worried it might not see the light of day. I felt until we actually had something, a finished product, that was when we wanted to approach Rebellion. Personally, I hope Rebellion have enjoyed it! It certainly works as a proof of concept and feedback from fans and non-fans has been really positive. Of course, there are things we would have loved to include but just didn’t get the chance to, but one thing I know and think everyone involved should be proud of, we’ve introduced the character to thousands of new people, and hopefully gained Rogue some fans along the way.

TSL Veteran actor James Cosmo of GAME OF THRONES fame provides the film’s opening narration. How did he come to be involved in the production? Was it a bit daunting to work with such a big name?

AK We had a final edit of the film that didn’t have an opening narration and I felt that people that weren’t familiar with the character needed a short introduction to get them up to speed so we worked on a version with just the text and then felt it needed to be narrated.
James Cosmo was my first choice to voice the narration and I am lucky that he is a family friend. Thankfully he was very supportive and agreed, I think our recording session at his home lasted under an Hour with the first take being the take we used. Was a pleasure working with such a Pro.

JS I’m not sure Adam is phased by anything. I’ve seen him do some ludicrous things over the years.. Personally it was more daunting to ask Damien to go back into make up to get sprayed with blue paint again on the 2nd day at 6:30am.

TSL What were your experiences during the shoot itself? The film is very much an extended action sequence, as we’d expect from such a grim tale of war in the far future, was the action choreography difficult to pull off? I noted that the Norts were all played by professional stuntmen

JS Over to Adam for this one!

AK Our main aim was to be as prepped as we could be prior to the shoot. We had visited the location numerous times to block out various camera positions and action beats. I worked with Damien Walters and some of the Norts stunt guys in a gymnastic gym on the hand to hand combat scene about 6 weeks before the shoot which gave us the framework of the fight. We also had a Prep day with everyone involved so we could block out the action with the performers and cast.
Our biggest challenge was time, action always takes time to shoot and we only had 2 days. Myself and Joby were very aware of this so I had to make a few creative changes on the fly in order to make our days without compromising the final product. Also having Professional British Stunt Registered performers made my life so much easier.

TSL Any future productions in the pipeline? A sequel perhaps or maybe another of 2000AD’s pantheon of characters? Or maybe your own original material?

AK I don’t think I will re-visit RT as a short, Id love to see it made into a feature someday whether I’m involved or not. I have a few other ideas I’m working on, keep scaring Joby with the scale.

JS Why Rogue Trooper the full feature of course…just need full support and a decent budget! I jest (I will continue to dream). I’m looking forward to the next challenge! Adam mentioned something to me about trenches…

TSL Thank you very much for taking the time to talk with us. All the best for your future endeavours!

AK Cheers, Just wanted to thank our crew again. This couldn’t have been made without their time, passion and professionalism.

JS Thanks! Massive thanks to everyone that helped on this. So many people gave up their time and helped bring this to life.

Good morning film fiends!
Only four more days to back Ash Mountain  Films’ home invasion horror NEFARIOUS on Kickstarter! The Ash Mountain crew have put up some amazing rewards for backers (TSL is backing the production of £200). Pop over to their Kickstarter page to check out what all the fuss is about – 

Remember any amount will help get the film into production, and the more you pledge, the more goodies you can get as reward. If you can’t afford to pledge you can also help by sharing the link on your social media channels. Spread the word!

In other news, a triple whammy of goodness for you to check out this fine morning –

A babysitter is stalked by a frightening ominous presence in THE NURSERY, creaking its doors open this June from Uncork’d Entertainment.

From filmmakers Christopher A. Micklos and Jay Sapiro comes the story of a young woman whose run-of-the-mill Saturday night quickly turns into a confrontation with unspeakable horror!

When Ranae, a college student babysits for a family with a tragic history, she finds herself stalked by a sinister presence and haunted by ghosts from her own past. Soon, she and her friends must confront the angry, evil spirit hunting them down one-by-one on a deliberate march towards its ultimate prey.

Emmaline Friederichs, Madeline Conway, and Carly Rae James Sauer star in the spookfest of the Summer THE NURSERY, available on VOD June 5 and on DVD August 7 from Uncork’d Entertainment.


Stunt coordinator Clayton J. Barber (fight and stunt coordinator for Marvel’s BLACK PANTHER and IRON FIST) directs leading man Eric Jacobus (PS4’s exclusive GOD OF WAR) in their latest martial arts action short feature BLINDSIDED: THE GAME!

After blind man Walter Cooke (Jacobus) prevents a local gang from shaking down his local grocer Gordon (Roger Yuan – JASON BOURNE), Walter must reckon with the gang’s ruthless boss Sal (Joe Bucaro, Marvel’s ANT-MAN). The stakes are high, but Walter’s got an ace up his sleeve.

BLINDSIDED: THE GAME pays homage to classic action films like ZATOICHI and BLIND FURY not only in its protagonist Walter, a blind swordsman, but also in that the film places heavy emphasis on storytelling combined with great action. This is no surprise with Clayton J. Barber in the director’s seat, who comes with over 20 years of experience as a stunt coordinator in Hollywood. Leading man Eric Jacobus plays Walter, a lovable cook who’s an expert gambler and swordsman. The character is the amalgamation of Jacobus’s 18-year career as a comedic action performer in the indie film arena. Director Clayton J. Barber is pushing the boundaries of modern action entertainment by bridging Hollywood with the indie action film world.

Barber notes that, “Eric Jacobus came from the indie action film realm. He was like a punk rocker of the action genre using raw filmmaking. We’re bridging these worlds together to create a totally new kind of action experience.” Jacobus echoes Barber’s sentiments: “Indie action guys have all the tools they need to showcase their skills, but the element of storytelling still has to be there. Clayton’s that storyteller who knows action. This is our LE SAMOURAI.”

Barber and Jacobus aren’t the only stuntmen involved in BLINDSIDED: THE GAME. The film features an ensemble of action stars and stunt performers both behind and in front of the camera. Roger Yuan, a veteran action star featured in action films such as SHANGHAI NOON and this year’s ACCIDENT MAN, who plays the shopkeeper Gordon, also choreographed one of the film’s major fight scenes. Producer David William No (ALTERED CARBON from Netflix, and THE MATRIX RELOADED) acts as a knife-wielding card shark and goes toe to toe with Jacobus in the climax. Veteran stunt performer Joe Bucaro (XXX, IRON MAN) plays the ruthless gang leader Sal, Nicholas Verdi (CLOSE RANGE, AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.) plays Nico and acted as director of photography, and Sal’s enforcer is played by Luke LaFontaine (SAVAGE DOG, MASTER AND COMMANDER) who also served as the sword fight coordinator.

Production company JB Productions is dedicated to delivering strong storytelling and first-rate action, created by people who truly understand action. Barber says, “This is a new approach to action filmmaking. BLINDSIDED: THE GAME is the perfect collaboration for us, and we hired great stunt performers to play the lead roles and even work behind the camera with us because we wanted to work with folks who knew action. That’s the brand people are buying into, and we’re always looking to build that brand by collaborating with talent both in America and overseas.”

Jacobus and Barber previously collaborated on the hit short films ROPE A DOPE and ROPE A DOPE 2: REVENGE OF THE MARTIAL ARTS MAFIA. BLINDSIDED: THE GAME is an expansion of the 2017 short film BLINDSIDED, which was the first title under the Jacobus / Barber (JB) Productions banner. BLINDSIDED was released to much acclaim, with fans craving a conclusion to the story. BLINDSIDED: THE GAME replays the entirety of the original BLINDSIDED and carries the story to completion, capping the film off at the length of a TV pilot.

Jacobus and Barber are confident that BLINDSIDED: THE GAME will fulfill fans’ desires for a complete film. Blindsided: The Game will be free to stream on YouTube on May 17th.    


Thomas Lawes’ MONOCHROME premieres on VOD and DVD this June from Gravitas Ventures.

Featuring BAFTA winner James Cosmo (TV’s GAME OF THRONES, BRAVEHEART), the killer-thriller focuses on a disillusioned young woman who becomes a serial killer targeting wealthy land-owners, forcing a brilliant detective to use his unusual neurological condition to track her down.

Jo Woodcock (DORIAN GRAY), Singer songwriter Cosmo Jarvis, Patrice Naiambana (HIGHLANDER: THE SOURCE), Lee Boardman (JACK & THE GIANT SLAYER), Steve Jackson (TV’s CORONATION STREET) and Liz May Brice (ALIEN VS. PREDATOR) make up the ensemble cast.


On a final note –  to any aspiring independent filmmakers, podcasters or film related writers out there out there reading this, let me know if you’d like me to publicize and/or review your projects, The Stricken Land is always happy to promote new talent and ideas! And as ever, please feel free to share this post and any others on here that you like, far and wide.

Spread the Word!

The Final Girls (2015) US Dir: Todd Strauss Schulson
Taissa Farmiga, Malin Akerman, Alia Shawkat

Teenager Max Cartwright (Farmiga) lives with her free spirited but down on her luck actress mother Amanda (Akerman). One night after driving home from yet another failed audition, they are involved in a horrific car accident. Amanda is killed but Max manages to survive without serious physical injury.

Cut to three years later and Max is finally beginning to put her life back together. Her best friend Gertie’s (Shawkat) brother, horror film geek Duncan (Thomas Middleditch)  bribes her to attend a screening of Camp Bloodbath, a 1980’s stalk and slash horror flick, as a guest of honour, the film being her late mother’s most well known film role, playing the virginal Nancy.

When a fire rips through the auditorium, Max and her friends tear open the projector screen to escape, and inexplicably find themselves transported into the film itself. Max immediately forms a bond with her dead mothers character, but the friends presence soon begins to alter the events of the movie, and with the original ‘final girl’ killed off in a freak accident, Max has to try and save Nancy from the movie’s disfigured psycho Billy Murphy (Daniel Norris), while taking on the mantle of final girl herself, and getting herself and her friends back to reality in one piece!

THE FINAL GIRLS is the ultimate meta horror comedy and an absolute blast from start to finish. Fans of the 80’s slasher cycle will find much to love here, from the obvious nods to the FRIDAY THE 13th series to the well observed culture clash between the generations (the past being a foreign country – the fictional film within a film is set in 1986).

Screenwriter Joshua John Miller co wrote the script as a coping mechanism after the death of his father Jason Miller (Father Karras in THE EXORCIST), and the sense of grief and loss that plays out between Max and Amanda/Nancy lends a poignancy to what could otherwise have been a fun but shallow piece of comedy horror fluff.

The film also avoids the repetitious irony and knowing superiority that marred so many films and tv shows that jumped on the meta horror bandwagon started by SCREAM and which became very tedious very quickly soon afterwards. Director Schulson along with Miller and fellow scribe M A Fortin thankfully play their film for bittersweet laughs, shot through with just the right amount of nostalgia for a genre they clearly have a lot of affection for.

I’m short, THE FINAL GIRLS is a feel good horror homage that will raise a smile from even the most hardened gorehound, and will especially appeal to those who lived through the 80’s slasher era it so affectionately spoofs.

Hailing from the rainswept northern climes of the UK, Elliott Maguire is the writer and director behind the dark psychological horror film THE FERRYMAN, which is currently available on the Vimeo platform (you can rent or buy it here.)

Filmed exclusively using iPhone 7’s on a micro budget in and around his home city of Manchester, THE FERRYMAN tells the story of Mara (Nicola Holt), an emotionally fragile young woman who, whilst recovering from a suicide attempt finds herself stalked by a vengeful spectral entity. You can read our full review here if you haven’t already, but in the meantime, Elliott graciously agreed to sit down and talk to us about his experience making the film along with his influences and future plans.

TSL Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into filmmaking. Do you have any formal training in screenwriting or directing?

EM I’ve always been more of a film fan than filmmaker to be honest, until I got my hands on a copy of THE USUAL SUSPECTS at quite a young age and became really obsessed with screenwriting and storytelling. In terms of training, I did okay in college but I’m a two time university dropout, it just wasn’t for me. Not sure why really. So other than college I really just trained myself, with a bit of help from google. It wasn’t until very recently that I did anything other than the writing side of film though. Directing and stuff, well everything I learned from watching other films basically.

TSL How did the idea for THE FERRYMAN come about? What gave you the impetus to make your own film?

EM I’d always been interested in the image of the coins in the eyes since THE HITCHER and FROM HELL, and began looking into the Greek myth Charon and just thought it was ideal for turning into a new, iconic boogeyman. The Ferryman started off as a very Blumhouse-style supernatural horror, loads of jump scares, high body count, but as you can probably tell that changed a lot over the development. I’d always wanted to move into directing as well as writing and I had that many scripts get a bit of interest, almost happen, this that and the other, I just thought “I’m not ready but I never will be, so let’s just crack on and make something”. In hindsight I should’ve picked something a bit less complex production-wise but oh well.

TSL As a child of the VHS era, I’m pretty obsessed with horror, fantasy and sci fi, in particular post apocalypse movies. What are the films that have your biggest influences?

EM For THE FERRYMAN specifically, it really developed as my taste in cinema developed. The films of Nicolas Winding-Refn, Ben Wheatley, Nicolas Roeg, and David Lynch really stayed in my mind while filming. I wanted it to feel like you were in Mara’s head, in this psychological nightmare where everything is just slightly off…and then you drop right off down the rabbit hole.

TSL If there are any aspiring filmmakers reading this, I’m sure that they’d love some advice on getting their own projects rolling. How did you set about finding actors, makeup artists and scouting locations for instance? Did social media play a big part in finding suitable collaborators?

EM Social media was everything for me really, in terms of cast and crew it was basically a case of reaching out on Facebook. Except for Nicola and Shobi, I found them on Mandy and they blew me away with their self-tapes. But yeah everyone else was either an actor or filmmaker I knew through social media, or a friend of there’s. I got really lucky with everyone, I couldn’t say it’s the right way to do it, all I can say is it worked for me. Locations were really just places I had access to, my house, parents house, where I work, anywhere I could get for free really as paying was out of the question. In terms of advice, it’s such a cliche but it’s the right answer, you just have to go and do it. Think about something you can do with what you’ve got to hand and do it. If I can, trust me, everyone else can. If you wait around for funding, or for sometime else to do it for you, there’s a big chance it’ll never happen, so take control. Even if you’ve never been to university or anything, I can guarantee there are a thousand tutorials on every aspect of filmmaking on YouTube, and that’s free! Create your own university while also making things happen.

TSL What would you consider to be the most important thing you’ve learned in your filmmaking career so far, and what would your advice be to other aspiring filmmakers?

EM Organisation in the pre-production stage 100%. I got swept away in the excitement and started setting dates and deadlines for things without figuring out how to meet them, which really messed up one or two locations and led to a few last minute recastings. It worked out in the end but the stress of it really sucked the fun out of it a few times. So be organised, and have back up plans, and back up plans for your back up plans. But also, don’t think of this as a business, not until after post-production anway. This should be fun, it should be your passion, something you want to do regardless of the money. Stick to your guns and make the film you want to make, not what they tell you would sell more DVD’s.

TSL Do you have a preference for a particular aspect of the craft, either writing or directing?

EM I’ve just started writing again and I’ve missed it so much, as I feel in complete control and maybe that’s just the way I have to be. But the chaos of being on set and seeing stuff come to life and coming up with scenes on the spot and working with other filmmakers is amazing too so I don’t know. Maybe ask me after the next one…

TSL Certain films, particularly in the horror genre have gained a reputation for strange coincidences and unnerving occurrences during production. As lovers of film trivia, can you tell us if anything like that happened during the filming of THE FERRYMAN or indeed, any other interesting anecdotes relating to the production?

EM It was filled with drama actually, nothing supernatural even though my house and my parents house are definitely haunted. But yeah there’s been lots of stuff but I really couldn’t divulge any of it come to think of it. Some of it very private to cast and crew and some of it may get the FBI coming after us all if they’re not already (seriously).

TSL Finally then, do you have any upcoming projects or ideas bubbling away that you can tell us about?

EM Oh yes loads, I have a back catalogue of scripts that are no longer in anyone’s hands but mine and my plan is to basically work through them in terms of budget and scale. I have my slasher film set in the homeless community, my cult thriller Follow The Leader, a supernatural horror centred around security and CCTV, and I’m also hoping to start development on a film based on the Hexham Heads true story. But the next one is going to be very small, smaller than Ferryman even, but much more visceral than psychological, Buried-meets-Wicker Man is how I’d describe it with a bit of French New Wave ultra violence thrown in. Hopefully sometime this year.

TSL Thanks for volunteering your time to talk to us. We look forwards to your future productions!

EM Thanks Ian, and thanks for all the support!

The Hatred (2017) US Dir: John Law
Zelda Adams, John Law, Lulu Adams

In civil war era Blackfoot territory, a band of confederate soldiers massacre the family of a young girl (Zelda Adams) and lynch one of their own number (Law) to conserve their meagre supply of food.
Swearing vengeance, the girl conjures the dead soldier back to life and begins to exact a grisly revenge against his former comrades.

Told mainly in flashbacks, this uncompromisingly bleak gothic revenge western is a micro budget indie that looks like a big studio picture. Filmed using only natural light in the snowbound Catskill mountains of New York State, writer director and star John Law conjures a strange dream like atmosphere for his movie, and has delivered a bloody and brutal work of art. Utilising the simple well worn revenge plot of countless westerns the efficient deftly written screenplay lays bare the fallen nature of the human condition, and how easy it is for men to revert to savagery when freed of the constraints of civilised society.

Fans of Corbucci’s similarly snowbound masterpiece THE GREAT SILENCE will find much to enjoy here as will fans of revenge horror and the gothic western sub genre. And it has one of the most superbly terrifying climaxes I’ve seen in any recent fun. Highly recommended.

THE HATRED is currently available to buy and stream from Amazon Prime.

Good morning film fiends! I hope all my fellow UK readers are enjoying the glorious bank holiday sunshine. The last week has been a rather light on the news front,I only have the one upcoming release to report this week,the sci fi thriller ASTRO, more details of which you can read below.

For readers outside the US, I’m currently trying to pry worldwide release dates for many of the films featured in this weekly missive, rest assured I’ll feature updates as and when I get them.

Sci-fi thriller ASTRO, featuring Gary Daniels (THE EXPENDABLES), Dominique Swain (BOONE: THE BOUNTY HUNTER) and Marshal Hilton (PRIMAL RAGE), bows at Cannes in May before hitting home entertainment platforms this July.

Directed by Asif Akbar and written by Akbar and Bernard Selling, ASTRO tells of a billionaire’s private space exploration program returning to Earth with an abducted extraterrestrial from a newly discovered alien planet.

Louis Mandylor, Max Wasa, Omi Vaidya, Luke G. Crosby, Orson Chaplin, Gianni Capaldi, Spice Williams-Crosby, Courtney Akbar, Christopher Showerman and Michael Pare also star.

ASTRO receives a DVD release domestically in the U.S. and North America through eOne and ITN Distribution this July.

ASTRO is a Film Life Factory, LLC and XVIII Entertainment, LLC production. ITN Distribution is handling sales in all domestic and certain parts of the European territories with Avail Films and XVIII Entertainment handling the rest of the world-wide sales at the upcoming Cannes Film Market.

Brian Steele Medina of  alternative metal band Gemini Syndrome, composed the music and sound fx for Astro’s trailer, which also features an unreleased track “We Are the Fallen” written by the band. The film’s original score is composed by Erick Schroeder.

Asif Akbar and Bernard Selling are currently finishing the ASTRO book series based on the movie,which is due to be released on Amazon in July. “We are excited to create and introduce a new modern day science-fiction franchise to the world”, says Akbar.

On a final note –  to any aspiring independent filmmakers, podcasters or film related writers out there out there reading this, let me know if you’d like me to publicize and/or review your projects, The Stricken Land is always happy to promote new talent and ideas! And as ever, please feel free to share this post and any others on here that you like, far and wide.

Spread the Word!


Following on from our review of KNIGHTS OF THE DAMNED, we recently got the opportunity to interview one of its stars, the actor and martial artist Silvio Simac. Silvio is of Croatian descent, although currently based in the UK. He is a World Gold medalist in Taekwon-do, and has also been crowned British champion 4 times and European champion 4 times. Silvio continues to build his profile as an action star with a  career that has so far has seen him go up against Jason Statham in TRANSPORTER 3, Jet Li in UNLEASHED, Keanu Reeves in MAN OF TAI CHI, and his friend and colleague Scott Adkins in UNDISPUTED II, who he also organises and hosts martial arts seminars with.

TSL Thanks for talking with us Silvio. How did you come to be involved in martial arts and where did your acting career start?

SS  Growing up in the 1970’s I was clearly inspired and motivated by late Bruce Lee who made a huge impact on the silver screen with his incredible physique, aura and magnetism. I showed natural disposition and excelled on the sports field whilst setting several school records in various sports. Shortly after I took up martial arts, belts swiftly changed colour as my enthusiasm grew and I started winning trophies and accolades. Within a decade I had acquired black belts in several disciplines and had climbed from British to European and eventually world gold medalist. At this stage I was endorsing products for various sponsors that backed me up as well as appearing in numerous adverts and TV commercials so I was somewhat familiar with the inner workings of film and tv sets. As such I was called up to join an agency and  within 5 weeks my life as I knew it transformed. From graduating from University in BA Economics, now I was training to be an actor and my new exciting journey had begun as I was getting roles in different productions and features.

TSL Were you a big fan of the action genre growing up, and if so what would you say is your favourite movie in the genre? Did you consider any of those stars as role models that influenced your career choices?

SS I suppose most young boys are into action films as they convey a story closer to young person’s primal instincts. My era saw emergence of timeless action icons such as Jean Claude Van Damme , Jackie Chan, Steven Seagal, Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger, so I feel very lucky to have had an influence from such icons. Some of the biggest and favourite movies that I have had the biggest impact on me are  BLOODSPORT, KICKBOXER and ROCKY.

TSL  I remember as kid growing up in the 80’s and 90’s, the action genre seemed much bigger than it is now, with a whole raft of classic (and not so classic) movies making big stars out of the likes of Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Willis, Seagal, Norris, Van Damme and many others. Some of my favourites were on the lower budget exploitation end of the genre, particularly the Golan Globus movies. Being based in the UK, do you see this country and continental Europe as the best places to find action movie projects? We’ve produced Jason Statham here, and France gave the world the writer/director Luc Besson. Hollywood seems to have lost interest or either traded on past glories, i.e THE EXPENDABLES movies?

SS The action movie genre has grown and developed immensely world wide. South Korean as well as Thai and Bollywood action movies have been making an incredible impact in world cinema. It is also much easier and more cost effective to make movies so we are seeing much broader diversity and spectrum of action movies world wide.

TSL Action movies are obviously physically demanding usually requiring a lot of stunt work and fight choreography. As a trained martial artist and athlete are you usually hired to do your own stunts and oversee the fight choreography on your films in tandem with your dramatic work? Have you ever had any close calls when performing any stunts yourself?

SS To date I have done all of my stunts except in one of my latest features, KNIGHTS OF THE DAMNED there were several scenes they used the stunt double for horse riding as it’s not particularly a strong skill of mine. Nevertheless, I have jumped from a moving car, fallen from an 11 floor building, smashed through a glass window as well as many other adrenaline rush acts, One of the worst on set injuries I suffered occurred while making TRANSPORTER 3 and was of a pretty basic nature. The reason I say ‘basic nature’ is because it was a simple average kick delivered after a whole day of tedious filming where I tore my hamstring whilst fighting Jason Statham. But I managed to complete this fight scene with aid of strong painkillers!

TSL Given all the stars you’ve worked alongside, you must have a lot of stories to tell! What was it like working with Jason Statham for instance?

SS One commonality I found amongst all the stars I’ve had the privilege to work with is they are incredibly highly driven and dedicated to their craft. Jason Statham is a natural in the sense that for someone who never had previously practiced martial arts, pulled it off like an expert and required very little rehearsal time with the rest of the cast and stunt team.

TSL What has been your most satisfying film project to work on so far?

SS To date I have had the privilege to work along some of the greatest action stars. directors and choreographers in the action genre. Micheal J White, Scott Adkins, Jet Li, Keanu Reeves, Jason Statham, Tsui Hark, Yuen Wo Ping are just a few to mention. Each and every one of them has been a very unique and different experience, giving me the opportunity to learn, grow and evolve.

TSL We’re big fans of worthy causes, and you do a lot of work for several charitable organisations, helping to raise awareness. Tell us a bit more about this aspect of your career?

SS Part of the martial arts code of conduct is to contribute to the mutual welfare of our environment and society. From the onset of martial arts philosophy we are taught the more you give, the more you get back and as a teacher I get this gratification and satisfaction on a regular basis. As such it is normal and righteous to engage, participate and help worthy causes.

TSL Can you tell us about any upcoming projects that you’re involved with, that we can look forward to ?

SS  This year will see a release of OUT FOR VENGEANCE, TRANSIT 17 and THE DARK KINGDOM. Furthermore I  start shooting an action comedy to be filmed in and around New York city called MADE IN CHINATOWN. As well as this I have several other projects in the pipeline, but cannot talk about them until the contracts are signed. I am also conducting a series of seminars alongside friend Scott Adkins in Greece during July 2018

TSL We’ll look forwards to them! Many thanks for taking the time to speak with us and all the best in your future endeavours!

SS Thank you very much for giving me opportunity to share my life with you. God Bless.

You can follow Silvio on Instagram at #Silviosimac

Knights of the Damned (2017) UK Dir: Simon Wells
Ross O’Hennessy, Ben Loyd-Holmes, Silvio Simac, Kate Davies Speak

Everyone loves a good cheesy low budget fantasy romp, especially those of us Generation VHS types who grew up with John Milius’ glorious take on CONAN THE BARBARIAN and the slew of straight to video copycats that arrived in its wake in the early to mid eighties.

Before even the Austrian Oak bestrode the Hyborian Age however, a much loved British curio hit cinema screens a year before. Terry Marcel’s HAWK THE SLAYER was a classic slice of b-movie sword and sorcery schlock featuring a scenery chewing Jack Palance as gasping villain Vultan and awesome special lo-fi special effects such as death by silly string(!)

Unfortunately we never saw a run of British fantasy movies after this, instead being treated to a steady run of American high fantasy flicks (DEATHSTALKER, WIZARDS OF THE LOST KINGDOM, ATOR THE FIGHTING EAGLE) starring musclebound non entities and Playboy playmates, usually courtesy of Roger Corman’s New World Pictures.

KNIGHTS OF THE DAMNED then, is the spiritual successor to Marcels microbudget masterpiece. Unfortunately it arrives hard on the mega budget heels of the likes of HBO’s GAME OF THRONES, a series that, along with Peter Jackson’s LORD OF THE RINGS movies has single handedly rescued the fantasy genre from being the preserve of 80’ D&D Which is a shame, because KNIGHTS OF THE DAMNED tries hard to be loved. The first entry in a proposed franchise called Order of Kings, the basic plot of the film is sound if unoriginal (never a hindrance in the fantasy genre). The Kingdom of Nazroth is threatened by dragons sent by ‘the Dark Kingdom’ along with a sorcerous plague that raises the dead for good mesure. A band of the King’s knights are sent out to slay the dragons and discover the source of the plague, encountering malevolent sirens, a band of warrior women and several other staples of the fantasy genre along the way.

The real problem the film has is that its ambitions are let down by its low budget, with the whole thing coming across as being somewhat half finished,with poor lighting and sound, at times coming perilously close to resembling a LARP home video.

The cast do well, struggling through some terribly stilted dialogue (“you can write this shit, but you sure can’t say it,” to quote a certain A list actor), and looking like they are all going to have a strong word with their agents. Ultimately, the achilles heel of the film is the budget versus the vision of the filmmakers who might have been better to scale down their ideas, along with what seems to become an interminable running time (in fact only 84 minutes.)

If, like me however you are solidly entertained by the budget end of the fantasy film spectrum, you will probably find something to entertain here if not just for a boozy film night with your mates and copious amounts of beer.

House on Elm Lake (2017) UK Dir: James Klass
Becca Hirani, Andrew Hollingworth, Tara MacGowran, Tony Manders

The Jones family move into a seemingly idyllic lakeside property in the British countryside, having purchased it for a knockdown price due to it having been the scene of a ritualistic family annihilation three years earlier. Hayley (Hirani) hopes the fresh start will repair their marriage after husband Eric’s (Hollingsworth) infidelity.

No sooner has the family settled in than things start to go bump in the night, daughter Penny (Faye Goodwin) acquires an imaginary friend and Eric’s personality becomes more and more aggressive. When Hayley begins to start witnessing apparitions she begins to delve into the dark history of the house along with a psychic investigator.

So far, so THE CONJURING, and indeed this mini budget British horror flick doesn’t stray too far from any of the tried and tested tropes of the haunted house/demonic possession sub genres.This is likely to be a marmite movie for some. It doesn’t really do anything groundbreaking with its well worn set up, and becomes a little too distracted with reliance on jump scares rather than building a sense of dread. On the plus side it is a well written and directed example of its sub genre, with lead actress Becca Hirani in particular giving a great performance as Hayley, riven with self doubt, but determined to protect her family against increasingly deranged hubby Eric (Hollingworth, channelling his best Jack Torrance.)

Filmed in eight days on a budget of £3000, the finished production transcends it’s microbudget origins, delivering an effective and at times genuinely unnerving haunted house chiller. Unlike most of its higher budgeted US produced counterparts, has a bleak and cold atmosphere that you only really find in British made horror flicks or those set in these rain swept isles (Cronenberg’s THE DEAD ZONE is an excellent exception). Lacking the slick glossiness of similar US fayre like THE CONJURING and SINISTER ends up being no great disadvantage to the film, rather acting as a boon to those of us who prefer our horror with a sliver of ice running through it. Fans of haunted house and demonic possession flicks will find a solid if unoriginal addition to the sub genre here.