I’m a huge fan of revenge films, low-budget horror films, and heavy metal. It stands to reason that the indie horror/revenge film The Retaliators, which stars and features music from some of the biggest bands from the rock/metal scene, would be right up my alley. Did The Retaliators satisfy my desire for revenge film thrills and gory bits of horror?
The Retaliators (2022) Synopsis
An upstanding pastor uncovers a dark and twisted underworld as he searches for answers surrounding his daughter’s brutal murder. A high-octane original soundtrack and cameos from some of the biggest names in rock music set the tone as this horror-thriller reveals a game of revenge played using a new set of rules.
Michael Lombardi (read our interview with him here), Samuel Gonzalez Jr, and Bridget Smith directed The Retaliators from a script by Darren Geare and Jeffrey Allen Geare. The film stars Michael Lombardi (Banshee 2006), Marc Menchaca (Sick 2022), Joseph Gatt (Black Adam 2o22), Katie Kelly, Abbey Hafer, Brian O’Halloran (Clerks 3 2022), Shannan Wilson (A Party To Die For 2022), Cree Kelly (The Raking 2017), Megan Noone, Corrie Graham, Gigi Gustin (Nightmare at Precint 84), Sarah Nicklin (Chupacabra Territory 2016), Dominic Costa and Brian Gallagher.
The film features cameos and music from Mötley Crüe’s Tommy Lee, Five Finger Death Punch’s Ivan Moody, Zoltan Bathory, and Chris Kael, Papa Roach, Jaya of The Hu, Spencer Charnas of Ice Nine Kills, Eva Under Fire’s Amanda Lyberg, Matt Brandyberry, Danny Case, Lance Dowdle, and Matt Madiro of From Ashes to New, Craig Mabbit of Escape The Fate, Cory Marks, and Dan Murphy and Miles Franco of All Good Things.
Lots To Like
So, the opening to The Retaliators doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. But those who stick with it will be rewarded with a kick-ass revenge thriller/exploitation horror hybrid that rarely lets up once the action starts. The film follows Bishop, a preacher who is still grieving the loss of his wife when tragedy strikes again and he loses his eldest daughter to cold-blooded murder. Bishop sets about trying to figure out who murdered his daughter and why but the answers he gets won’t be all that satisfying for him and will lead him down a rabbit hole of brutality and depravity.
Michael Lombardi does a commendable job as Bishop. He reminded me of the “cool” youth ministers I had growing up. He’s a cool, fun guy who does his best to understand and relate to those around him. He does well in these softer moments but where he really excels is when the anger and blood start flowing and he can really let loose. The foil to Bishop is Joseph Gatt’s Ram. Joseph Gatt is a calm yet imposing figure. A powder keg ready to explode. The fight scenes between the two are brutal, bloody, and intense.
The film features tons of metal musicians in supporting roles of various sizes. Out of all these, there were two that I was most impressed with. Spencer Charnas from Ice Nine Kills appears very briefly as a character named Max. Charnas imbues the character with the same maniacal charm he brings to Ice Nine Kill’s performances and music videos. It wouldn’t be a stretch to see him play his own slasher film villain someday. He plays unhinged effortlessly. The other is Jacoby Shaddix from nu metal legends Papa Roach. I’ve been a fan of Papa Roach since Infest came out when I was 14, so it was really cool to see Jacoby cross over into acting in a horror film. I wasn’t expecting how dark this role was going to be. His serial rapist/murderer Quinn Brady performance really impressed me. He’s a force of pure evil.
A Few Drawbacks
While I was a huge fan of The Retaliators, depending on your preferences as a horror fan, your mileage may vary. The film veers wildly from quiet sentimental moments between Bishop and his youngest daughter to scenes of rampant drug use and graphic violence to goofy scenes of Bishop preaching to his congregation back to scenes of people getting obliterated by wood chippers. There are some elements in the final act that feel shockingly out of place but they came so late in the movie that I honestly just went with it because I was enjoying the film too much to complain but it’s definitely something I could see taking some people out of the movie. I feel like a lot of this had to do with the film having too many cooks in the kitchen (3 credited directors).
The Retaliators Blu-Ray comes with a couple of special features, but they aren’t much to write home about. Included are cast interviews, most of which are with the band members about what it was like to work on a film, what they liked about the experience, whether they would want to do more acting in the future as well as their favorite horror films. The only other extras are a handful of music videos for songs on the soundtrack. I would have liked to have seen a more in-depth making of talking about how the film was conceived, the directing process, how they picked the artists for the band cameos as well as the excellent fight scenes and special effects.
The Retaliators – Final Thoughts
While tonally inconsistent, The Retaliators is a fun, bloody, brutal, kick-ass ride that I didn’t want to end. The film features a solid cast, some cool cameos, and excellent death scenes/fight scenes. The final act of the film is fucking bananas. I highly recommend you check out The Retaliators.
The Blu-Ray is a steal at under $14. You can grab your copy over at Amazon.
Have you seen the film? What did you think? Are you going to pick up the Blu-ray? Tell us in the comments!