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.

Good morning film fiends! I hope you are all enjoying the Easter break and finding time to indulge in a bit of film watching amidst all the chocolate munching.

And what delights, pray tell, have emerged from the celluloid wastes of The Stricken Land this week?

Worth checking out are Dark Temple Motion Pictures (, a new independent outfit dedicated to making retro science fiction and horror flicks, headed up by director Charlie Steeds. And their output looks right up our street. The studio’s big horror opus Escape from Cannibal Farm is due for DVD release on 16th July 2018. You can check the trailer out here –

But it’s the feature planned for late 2018 -early 2019 that really caught my attention. Check out the poster and trailer for The Barge People, this looks completely incredible!


Both films star Kate Davies Speak, a British actress is who is busy carving out a career for herself as a bona fide Brit horror icon. Check out the interview with her on Dark Temple’s website. Both Kate and Dark Temple can be followed on Twitter at respectively; @KateDaviesSpeak and @DarkTempleFilms. I really am liking the cut of this company’s jib, even their logo reminds me of 80’s exploitation film labels! Onwards and upwards as they say, and be sure to lend these good people your support by buying their movies! Escape from Cannibal Farm is already on my pre-orders!

Next up we have the dark fantasy Knights of the Damned (also starring Ms Davies-Speak and martial artist/action star Silvio Simac.) Look out for my review coming soon!

Back to the horror genre we’ve got two upcoming features fo review. Firstly we have Hell’s Kitty. Here’s the press release to give us the lowdown –

Doug Jones (The Shape of Water), Dale Midkiff (Pet Sematary), Michael Berryman (The Hills Have Eyes), Courtney Gains (The Children of The Corn), Lynn Lowry (Cat People), Kelli Maroni (Night of The Comet), Ashley C. Williams (The Human Centipede), Barbara Nedeljakova (Hostel), Adrienne Barbeau (The Fog), John Franklin (The Addams Family) and a ‘Killer Klown’ team up for some Pawplay this March!

Based on the web series and comic book of the same name, and inspired by writer-director Nicholas Tana’s experiences living with a professedly possessed cat, Hell’s Kitty tells of a covetous feline that acts possessed and possessive of his owner around women. The results are as funny as they are frightening!

Nick (Tana), a Hollywood screenwriter, discovers his cat has become murderously possessed, and will stop at nothing to rid him of any women in his life. As his life unravels out of control, Nick must find a way to have his kitty exorcised of the demonic spirit haunting her and creating a body count.

With characters named after classic horror movie characters (Jones plays Father Damien, Berryman is Detective Pluto, Nina Kate is Dr. Laurie Strodes, Barbeau is Mrs Carrie), and a tone reminiscent of some of the ‘80s greatest horror-comedies, Hell’s Kitty is undoubtedly the horror hiss of March!
Hell’s Kitty is written and directed by Nicholas Tana and produced by Denise Acosta.

Need more? How about At Granny’s House

Bill Oberst Jr and Rachel Alig are At Granny’s House in writer-director Les Mahoney’s award-winning indie horror, now available worldwide on VOD.

A Hitchcockian thriller with twists and turns, made for the YouTube generation with it’s depictions of the ubiquity and downside of cellphone usage and connectivity thru social media, At Granny’s House is the story of a young caregiver with a dark agenda moves into an elderly woman’s house. Soon, Granny’s house becomes a macabre place of death – and love.

That’s all for this week folks. Look out for my review of the soon to be release ‘stoner slasher’ horror 4/20 Massacre posting later this morning. 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!