With a high-octane original soundtrack and rock stars cameos, ‘The Retaliators’ is the bloody revenge horror worth seeing

Subscribe to Forte Magazine


With a high-octane original soundtrack and rock stars cameos, ‘The Retaliators’ is the bloody revenge horror worth seeing


The gripping new thriller, The Retaliators, is a bloody and raucous addition to the horror genre opening exclusively in theatres on September 14, worldwide.

Michael Lombardi is keen for you to see it, and, considering he is the dedicated lead actor, producer and co-director, you really should. With a cast with appearances from numerous different rock groups undetected in acting roles, The Retaliators is a treat for fans of hard rock and horror alike.

Set in small-time America, the film follows a pastor, played by Lombardi, who is beloved by his community, until something terrible occurs in his life. “The main theme of the movie is ‘What would you do if you had a minute alone with the person who killed your loved one?’,” tells Lombardi. “It’s that primal emotion. It’s a revenge story at the end of the day.”

Keep up with the latest entertainment news and events in the region here

Lombardi has put so much of his love for storytelling into this film: a true labour of love. “What attracted me to the script so much is the way in which the tale is told. We can all relate to that feeling of wanting revenge, but then when you have that person right in front of you could you act on it? I tried to connect to that feeling as much as possible.”

Like all good revenge flicks, this film spends its time centring on Joseph Gatt’s menacing villain. “[We did] a lot of stuff teeing up the bad guy. Making that character really strong. I always saw him as a bad guy from the 80s. Or Javier Bardem from No Country For Old Men. Like a really cold as ice guy.”

Having multiple roles on this project was a completely different experience for Lombardi, who until now has only acted in previous films and television series’. “I was acting in this one, producing, and did some additional directing on it as well. It was a tremendous amount of work,” Lombardi admits. “What you want at the end of the day is [for] what gets up on that screen to be number one.”

But the weight of this work did weigh heavy.

“At the end of these 12-hour shooting days, you go back to the hotel and take at least an hour-long shower to get all that blood off. And then you start making sure everything’s okay for the next day.”

The stress of filming was coupled with, of course, COVID-19, which interrupted production. But the creative team behind the film allowed for the film to prosper and continue despite the pandemic. One of the other directors Bridget Smith “was very good at story and creating a loving environment,” says Lombardi. Samuel Gonzalez Jr. was “another director who was very good at style. They were such a good collaboration and mix. I love the super stylised nature of the film, but it is also a slow burn and is very story-driven. I saw the collaboration between the two directors and new where I had to fit in the middle.”

Being Lombardi’s first foray into directing, this film has truly been a long-time coming for him. The genesis of it can be traced back to even when Lombardi dabbled in other creative pursuits. “I had a band in the early 2000s, we had a little record deal,” says Lombardi. “I used to write with the Geare brothers and they were amazing musicians. Some time had passed: I was on the east coast and they were on the west. I said, “Hey guys, what have you been up to?” They said they’d been writing screenplays. They sent me one, and it was The Retaliators, and I said “This is the one!”


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by The Retaliators (@retaliatorsfilm)

This was where the film’s integral musical element would come in. We’re used to the concept of film soundtracks including new work from famous names loosely related to the movie, but The Retaliators goes one step further. “I took [the script] to Allen Kovac, who is the CEO of Better Noise Music,” says Lombardi. “They represent over 40 huge rock bands like Motley Crue, Five Finger Death Punch, Ice Nine Kills, Papa Roach. He said, “I’ll back you, let’s make this!”. He suggested to bring musicians and actors together and tell a real story first. My main goal is to put these characters in the film in a very non-gratuitous manner. So if you’re not a fan of Five Finger Death Punch you would just think they’re actors, because they look it.”

Many more famous names fill out the list of band members in the film, such as Escape the Fate, Eva Under Fire, All Good Things and Bad Wolves. “They are so good in it,” Lombardi says of his musical cast, “because they are storytellers first. But they’re used to doing it onstage in a big way. Now they just have to hone it in a little bit.”

Jacoby Shaddix, the lead singer of Californian band Papa Roach was a special highlight to work with. “Jacoby said to me, “Last night I jumped off stage and my heels are really sore now.” I just thought, “This guy’s the man! What was so wonderful about Jacoby is that he’s so open to learning. He’s ready to jump off that cliff at any time. You want to work with an actor who’s willing to go there. He was all in. They all were. If they were at all intimidated I wouldn’t know. To me they’re actors.”

“They brought so much and fitted so perfectly into the film,” says Lombardi. “Hopefully it’s a symbiotic relationship where we have this great movie that maybe can open a new fanbase to the music and yet the music and the musicians bring this new element to the film too.”

The Retaliators lands in selected cinemas September 14. For more information about The Retaliators, head here.

This article was made in partnership with The Retaliators.