Michael Lombardi is best known for his role as Mike Silletti in “Rescue Me”, but for his latest project he dashes into the horror genre with “The Retaliators”.
The film will receive its world premiere at Arrow Video FrightFest this month and it’s a tribute to the splash and gore of the ’80s horror boom. In addition to starring in the film, Lombardi is the chef of Production at Better Noise Films, the company behind ‘The Retaliators’.
I caught up with Michael to talk about the movie, discuss the fantastic fight sequences, and find out how he disconnected from the dark subject after filming…
Your new movie ‘The Retaliators’ will have its world premiere at Arrow Video FrightFest. What is the film about ?
‘The Retaliators’ is about John Bishop, who is a beloved pastor in a small town. Bishop is a family man who leads a pretty charming life in La Capra until his world is turned upside down when one of his daughters is brutally murdered. This unlocks a chain of events that takes Bishop to a twisted underworld where he mysteriously has the opportunity to avenge his daughter. “The Retaliators” is a film that takes audiences on a journey where you are faced with the question: if you lose someone you love to a cold-blooded killer … and someone gives you five minutes alone with them, would you take it? It is a film that explores the extreme consequences that can result from this choice. It’s a movie that looks at morality, justice and faith… but, very importantly, it’s ultimately a fun and exciting journey that looks and nods to horror movies and horror movies. classic 80s action.
You play Bishop. What do we need to know about him and what attracted you to the role?
Bishop is a man of very high moral standards. a single father of two daughters, a pastor in a small town who is loved by his community. What attracted me the most to the role was how far this character has come. He starts off as one person and becomes a completely different guy by the end of the movie. It’s a hell of a trick.
The film is incredibly bloody and dark in places. What was it like filming those scenes?
It was very sticky. I think the fake blood contained some sort of syrup and would become extremely uncomfortable. Especially around the neck. Also..a few rather cold shoots. My character is just in a T-shirt in the 3rd act when the gore hits really hard! We were shooting nights in NJ and CT in November. The temperature hovered around 19 degrees for several nights. It was also very physically demanding. We had an amazing stunt team so I was lucky. By the way… it was really awesome !!!!!
There are some fantastic fight sequences in the movie. How did you prepare for these and how physically difficult were they?
At the start of production I was pretty fit and trained hard for those fight sequences, but with Covid and also the workload of being a producer on the film, it became difficult to stay in shape. . The shooting took place over a long period of time. We closed our doors and had to do pickups when we could throughout the year. Our stunt coordinator, Norm Douglass, was wonderful. I had worked with him several times during 100 episodes of my old Rescue Me TV series where I played a New York firefighter. When I read The Retaliators and saw what we had to do with the stunts. I knew Norm and his team were the right guys for the job.
When you make a horror movie, how do you manage to disconnect once you leave the set and go home?
I have to say that closing this one was difficult. Not only mentally in character, but also physically. At the end of a long day of 12 or 14 hours on the set. I would still need to take care of the production chores and then take an hour-long shower when I got back to my hotel just to get rid of all the blood before I could go to bed. Plus, with this project and filming during a pandemic, it took several months to complete. I have certainly lived a very long time in my character and in the universe of the film.
“The Retaliators” features a brilliant soundtrack and many artists appear in the film. What was it like working with them?
Yes!! The soundtrack is awesome !! All the musicians were fantastic! My goal as a producer was first to make a solid film! Meaning, a strong story and superb performances for an already brilliant screenplay written by the Geare brothers. Even though we have this silver lining of all of these absolutely amazing and successful rock bands. I didn’t want it to be free. My goal was that if you weren’t a fan of the band, you would just think they’re great actors playing those roles. I have the impression that we have succeeded. All the rock stars who are extremely successful musicians were excellent on set. They really brought it. They were so attached to their characters and their characters. I spoke with each of them before they jumped into the story and their roles. I knew they were all good storytellers on stage with their songs, but I really have to say that I was extremely impressed with their commitment and their work as actors.
What is your favorite horror movie and why?
On my list of the best horror movies, I can’t help but say “Friday the 13th” and “Halloween”. They scared the hell out of me! They were so innovative and so much fun. The use of POV shots in both films was so far ahead of their time and still looks great to this day. ‘Halloween’ is an absolute outstanding master class. The tension of stalking is used in virtually every shot in the film. ‘Jaws’ is also a movie that had a huge impact on me when I was a kid. It really is a perfect movie. In a class of its own.
What projects do you have to come?
I work alongside Allen Kovac. He produced ‘The Retaliators’ for Better Noise Films, the film division of his Better Noise Music label. We are jointly developing other cinema / TV projects. Stay tuned!”
“The Retaliators” will have its world premiere at 10:45 am and 11:10 am on the main screen on Monday, August 30, 2021 at Arrow Video FrightFest. For more information and tickets, please visit https://www.frightfest.co.uk/holdingfolder/TheRetaliators.html.