The Retaliators Interview: Michael Lombardi Drawn To “Thought-Provoking” Tale

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Michael Lombardi (Rescue Me) co-directs and headlines The Retaliators. This horror/thriller centers on a pastor named Bishop (Lombardi) who is seeking vengeance for his daughter’s (Katie Kelly) killing. Lombardi talked to Deepest Dream about The Retaliators and how it echoes some his favorite scare-filled cinema from yesteryear.

Along with Michael Lombardi’s locked in performance, the no-holds barred action is also propelled by locked in performances from Marc Menchaca and Jacoby Shaddix (best known as Papa Roach’s frontman). I dug The Retaliators, and during the interview I asked Lombardi if a sequel was in the offing!

Michael can you discuss the creative as well as physical exertion you faced as a co-director and lead of The Retaliators?

Michael Lombardi: Thanks so much, man. I appreciate your time and the question. It was really physically demanding.

I like to think of myself as a physical actor. I like to try and stay in shape. I was on a television show called Rescue Me for a long time which was about New York City firefighters. So that was pretty physically demanding.
The stunt coordinator that I brought on this movie, his name is Norman Douglas. He did stunts on Rescue Me. We were able to work together again. We put a lot of effort into choreography.

We shot in the woods. It was 19 degrees. Several nights fight. Joseph Gatt who plays the bad guy – he’s like 200 and something pounds. He’s a house. He threw me all around. Definitely a lot of bumps and bruises. Sticky blood, but at the end of the day, I’m doing what I love to do. So I’m not complaining by any means.

Michael Lombardi and Marc Menchaca in “The Retaliators” (Better Noise Fllms)

Can you talk about setting up the story so that when that third act happens, it has a real impact? You definitely have a slow burn to the storytelling until the explosive final act.

Michael Lombardi: What appealed to me about the script. Lots of things jumped out to me. And again we have the Spielbergian small town beginning or a Joe Dante Gremlins-esque town, right.

Then we go into this slow burn. Elements of Sin City jumped out to me. Death Wish. Crime thrillers. Drama. Horror. I love the slow burn and I loved the opportunity to act. That is my passion and I love this character for that.

Then we get into this crazy, Tarantino-esque third act where everything blows up – you can sort of wink at The Evil Dead.

At the end of the day, this is a really fun popcorn movie, but there is story. There are elements of morality and religion and justice. There are certain things to talk about. It’s a little thought provoking as well. So that really turned me on too.

Jacoby Shaddix in “The Retaliators” (Better Noise Films)

With a co-star like Marc Menchaca, you know you’re getting an awesome performance. Can you talk about landing Jacoby Shaddix, because he really stood out in this film as well.

Mike Lombardi: He’s amazing. We have a lot of cameos from musicians in this movie. Jacoby was amazing in the movie and I think all the musicians were. When Allen Kovac, who is the CEO of Better Noise Music, and he’s the founder of the company.

He represents all these bands – Five Finger Death Punch, Papa Roach, Motley Crue, Ice Nine Kills, Eva Under Fire, and on and on. Over 40 incredible bands.

I wanted (The Retaliators) to have a feeling of The Lost Boys, Judgment Night, The Crow, all of the movies that I love. So (Allen) said, “Let’s do this.” One of the main goals for me was to put these musicians but in a very non-gratuitous manner, if you weren’t a fan of Papa Roach, you would say this guy is a pretty good actor and he’s Jacoby Shaddix. You might find out that holy cow, that guy is the lead singer of this band?

The goal was to do it with all of them. They’re all incredible in the film and I spoke with all of them on the phone long before they arrived on set. We talked about what their parts were and they came to play. They came ready. I thought they were all tremendous.

Listen to the audio version of this interview on CinemAddicts:

There is a part in your film that features an underground lair. How does one find that, or did you build it out?

Mike Lombardi: We did both. We had this in mind for a long time where Jed’s (Marc Menchaca) lair was with these (quote) subhumans.

We shot at this place called The Palace of Depression in New Jersey. And that’s where a lot of those crazy hallways were. A thing that is really important in the script is where Jed takes my character – they go down these long hallways and stairs like you’re going into this crazy underworld. So you feel like you are trapped down there. So we shot in that place and we created the main stage. We did it in an airplane hanger. We built like a fake cave and had a lot of the scenes happen in there because we couldn’t stay downstairs. It wasn’t practical with the crew.

But we did do one of the full scenes there, actually. And it’s the one where Marc Menchaca’s character brings me down, and asks “Is this the guy.” That was in the real place and Marc is such a great actor – we did this amazing dance. It was just us and our cameraman Joseph Hennigan, (he’s) an amazing DP (director of photography). And you can feel the camera come around and move and play. It was a lot of fun to do.

Jed (Marc Menchaca) and the “subhumans” in The Retaliators

Will there be a sequel to The Retaliators?

Dude, it’s pretty much written (laughs). The writers have been going at this. We’ve talked a lot about it, and they have birthed this thing. It’s been like a family member to me the last three years. There is a lot of cool places where this can go. So fingers are crossed that a few people like it and it catches on a bit and we’re able to do another one.

Can you name one of your all time favorite movies?

Three or four come to mind but I’m going to tell you one that blew my mind and always freaks me out – Jaws. When I went, it was replaying in theaters and it freaked me out. I know this is true to so many people, but when I am in a pool – a kids’ pool, I see the shark’s POV of my legs! It was so scary. Obviously all the characters and the way you don’t see the shark . . . the shark wasn’t working for Spielberg. That is why you don’t see it through the movie.

And how effective that score was. The score became that danger. Speaking of scores, we had Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein from Stranger Things score our movie which meant a tremendous amount to me. The music supports our movie so much.

The Shining – we can go way into that! And I consider Jaws a horror. It Follows for more of a modern one. Love that movie so much. That was an indie gem that blew up too. I can go on and on. Of course Spielberg – E.T., Raiders of the Lost Ark.

I grew up on that stuff. I directed and produced a bunch of music videos to support (The Retaliators), all of mine have a grindhouse or throwback 80s feel on them. That is just the stuff that I love and I want to continue to do. Hopefully expand and really make it my own but that is what really inspires me.

Michael thank you for your time and more Robert Burke (Rescue Me co-star has a cameo in The Retaliators) in your movies please!

Michael Lombardi: Yeah baby! Thank you. Yeah. Take care buddy be good!

The Retaliators hits theaters September 14 for one night only. Get your tickets: https://www.retaliatorsmovie.com/

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