Movie news: Welcome To Essex

A few years back, before moving to live in Northern Ireland, I lived and worked in Essex and London; Brentwood was, literally, just up the road from me and it is still somewhere that I visit regularly. If I had known that they were going to be making a movie like this I may have moved back for a few months just to be part of it ;)

I will have to be satisfied, however, with watching it instead.

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wte-zombieOvernight, the United Kingdom was consumed by an epidemic of terrifying proportions. The majority of the population were killed in a matter of hours as millions of recently-deceased people returned to life and began to attack and kill the living. The infection spread so rapidly that the government had no time to control the situation.

The order to evacuate England was given but it was too late. Desperate measures were taken.

Now, the following day, a small group of mismatched survivors find themselves trapped in the famous town of Brentwood, hunted by large hordes of fast-moving undead corpses. The survivors must learn to work together and reach the last-known point of rescue, Southend-on-Sea, or face certain death. Or something much, much worse.

Who will live? Who will die?

Find out in ‘Welcome To Essex’!

Welcome To Essex is the latest feature film from Smoking Monkey Productions, a Brentwood-based movie studio that aims to put Brentwood on the movie map and shine a light on Essex for something other than orange-skinned clones and stupid catchphrases!


Welcome To Essex was conceived by writer/director Ryan J. Fleming. It was written to be a dark-humoured, large-scaled vision of a Britain in ruins, complete with death and destruction at every turn.

Welcome To Essex was always going to be a super-low budget project. In fact, it was initially an exercise in just how much of a film could be done for nothing. (The answer, of course, is not a lot!)

So, with some investment, Welcome To Essex crewed up and held auditions. Before long, it went before the cameras. Now, as we approach the end of the summer, 2013, there are but a few weeks of principal photography left to film, all scheduled, before post-production begins.

With an amazing cast and talented crew, Welcome To Essex has gone from an interesting experiment in low budget filmmaking to a large-scale, epic zombie apocalyptic movie that will surpass every film in it’s genre. As the crew say, “Aim high and settle for nothing less!”

Visit to meet our cast and characters and to find out more about us, as well as the opportunity to see an exclusive trailer for the film.


Catherine Delaloye as ‘Ryley Dunn’.
Greg Burridge as ‘Sgt. Jerry Ahern’.
Sarah-Grace Neal as ‘Jessica Sloane’.
Muzzy Tahir as ‘Muzzy Scolari’.
Michele Reynolds as ‘Michele’.
Jonathan Walker as ‘PC Rex Files’.
Sophie Jones as ‘Charmaine Danielle-Moody’.
Rob Evans as ‘Mike Rider’.
Terry Noble as ‘Barry Attrick’.
Julian Lee Seager as ‘Pete Hawke’.





Guest post: Author Alex Laybourne

h2hHorror Came Naturally to me

One of the interview questions I get asked the most is ‘Why Horror?’ The answer I give is always the same. It was never my plan to write horror. It just kind of… happened.

The first book I ever sat down to write was kind of an urban fantasy YA action book. Ok I was only fifteen, but even then, the basis of the story was straight forward, and rather uninspiring. The final version was horrific in many ways. Not only was it poorly written, but it was certainly more of a horror story than an action one.

A few years later (try seven), I started my very first blog. I put my heart and soul into it and tried to post something every day. A piece of flash fiction mainly, unedited and raw, they were more like brain dumps. I would grab a concept and create something. After three months of posts, I final took a look back through them all and noticed a recurring theme. Horror.

I had always read horror. I started reading Stephen King when I was nine, and had always found myself staying up late to watch horror movies, yet never onceMonique had I actually thought about writing something that even came close to horror. The previous results I convinced myself were just the results of an undisciplined mind. So I tried to change. I tried to plan every story out scene by scene. I had read a post that I assumed to be gospel.

What happened? My writing dried up. Not only did I lose sight of my muse, but what when the words did come, they were god awful: worse than that. I just couldn’t figure it out, and so I gave up, assuming that my writing was a phase, and that I had grown out of it.

I am sure you know what happened next. I grew grumpy, short tempered and soon started to write once more. Only this time I reverted to my free flowing style, and low and behold, what I produced was dark, harsh and without any doubt settled deep inside the horror genre. Rather than fight it, again, I embraced it. I opened my arms and grave my mind freedom. I started to write without planning. To create whatever came to my mind, and do you know what? My productivity went through the roof, my writing got better and better, my interest in the craft increased because I actually cared about what I was creating and offering around to people.

t&tSix years later, and not one day has gone by where I haven’t written something. I have a host of short stories completed (three collections are coming out later this year) four novels and a nine part zombie series to my name. I am currently working on five different pieces and have over thirty ideas planned out for future development.

It wasn’t until I stopped lying to myself and actually listened to what came naturally to me that I discovered what truly makes me happy, what makes me feel complete. Horror.

So why do I write horror? It is who I am, I can’t help it.


Born and raised in the coastal English town Lowestoft, it should come as no surprise (to those that have the misfortune of knowing this place) that I became a horror writer.

From an early age I was sent to schools which were at least 30 minutes’ drive away and so spent most of my free time alone, as the friends I did have lived too far away for me to be able to hang out with them in the weekends or holidays.

I have been a writer as long as I can remember and have always had a vivid imagination. To this very day I find it all too easy to just drift away into my ownAlex mind and explore the world I create; where the conditions always seem to be just perfect for the cultivation of ideas, plots, scenes, characters and lines of dialogue

I am married and have four wonderful children; James, Logan, Ashleigh and Damon. My biggest dream for them is that they grow up, and spend their lives doing what makes them happy, whatever that is.

For people who buy my work, I hope that they enjoy what they read and that I can create something that takes them away from reality for a short time. For me, the greatest compliment I can receive is not based on rankings but by knowing that people enjoy what I produce, that they buy my work with pleasure and never once feel as though their money would have been better spent elsewhere.





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