As any genre fan will be able to tell you, the horror-comedy hybrid is a dangerous path to tread.

Often films either dish up the laughs but fail to provide the grue, or serve up lashings of horror but prove painfully unfunny.

It is with a real sense of relief then, and delight, that Liam Regan’s Banjo scores in both areas – a schlocky, at times inspired romp that is, quite simply, bloody good fun.

Operating on such a low budget there are naturally faults here, but nothing that gets in the way of giving the viewer a damn good time – and also marking out Regan as one to watch.

James Hamer-Morton plays Peltzer, a put-upon, downtrodden office drone, who also happens to have a real problem when it comes to shagging.

This proves a bit of a surprise, especially when you consider Peltzer is shacked up with Deetz (played by buxom genre favourite Dani Thompson), even though she is clearly playing him for his inheritance.

Mocked by his missus, and berated by his tyrannical boss Sawyer (Vito Trigo), our hero withdraws further and further from social interaction, until he reaches the point where ‘Ronnie’ decides to make an appearance.

Turns out Ronnie is Peltzer’s imaginary friend, a malevolent, foul-mouthed, somewhat bizarre-looking chap who is very much the dark side of the central character.

Ronnie has been at Peltzer’s side before (when he was a bullied schoolkid) and now the imaginary friend is back, ready to wreak havoc as Peltzer looks to finally assert himself in the modern world……

For a film like this, chances are a few duff performances are going to pepper the project, and Banjo certainly has those.

But, luckily, the dodgy turns are from supporting cast members and, if I’m honest, don’t really matter that much anyway due to the ‘out-there’ tone Regan pitches from the off.

Hamer-Morton is excellent as Peltzer, a sympathetic lead struggling to make headway in a society he is really not suited for – in many ways a stepchild of the likes of Simon Pegg’s Shaun (of the Dead).

Thompson and Trigo chew scenery as the film’s villains, while Damian Morter’s Ronnie is an ingenious creation – all one-liners, crude suggestion and the constant threat of violence.

There’s also a welcome turn from horror star Laurence R Harvey as a fellow office employee, while Troma icon Lloyd Kaufman pops up for a cameo.

In fact, there is a real aroma of Troma’s irreverent style here, hardly surprising when you consider Regan got his start in the industry by linking himself with the company.

There is plenty of gore on display, and there’s likely to be plenty of winces among the male audience for some of the film’s graphic imagery (DIY penis surgery anyone?).

Moving along at a breakneck pace, with an inventive soundtrack to boot, Banjo suffers at times from trying too hard to be ‘quirky’.

But in the main this is gleefully over-the-top, deliciously-graphic romp that proves a real crowd-pleaser.

 

Frightfest London review: Banjo
4.0Overall Score
Reader Rating: (16 Votes)

About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.