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Review: The Retaliators

Out now on Blu-ray and VOD/Digital, The Retaliators is a wonderfully schlocky, ridiculously over-the-top gory, throwback revenge thriller that will satisfy fans of 80s-style action/horror b-movies.

Michael Lombardi stars as John Bishop, the pastor of a local church who is getting ready to celebrate Christmas with his two daughters.  When his teen daughter Sarah (Katie Kelly) convinces him to let her go out late to a party, she ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time and is murdered by a violent criminal (Joseph Gatt), leaving John in a dark place and questioning his faith.  The chief detective on the case, Jed Sawyer (Marc Menchaca), starts investigating and eventually offers John a chance at revenge but there are more twisted things going on than John realizes.  The movie starts out like a typical revenge thriller but the second half really ramps things up and when the reveal of what is actually going on occurs, it takes the movie in a twisted and insane new direction that definitely makes it stand out.  There are some plots, like a motorcycle gang war, that get set up and then kind of abruptly ended or are left a bit unresolved but the main plot keeps things more than interesting enough.  I do think there could have been a bit more backstory for John.  There’s a subplot about him refusing to use violence and avoiding confrontation but there’s no 80s style backstory of him being a former criminal or soldier that could have added a bit more depth and made his eventual battles later on in the movie have some more context and add a bit more believability to his apparent skills.

Michael Lombardi is a solid action hero, especially in the back half of the movie, and he does a great job of carrying the emotional heft of the first half as well.  Things get a bit melodramatic at times but it goes along with the overall extreme tone of the movie, so it’s not a major issue.  There are a ton of cameos from the world of hard rock, including Tommy Lee, Five Finger Death Punch and Papa Roach lead singer Jacoby Shaddix, who gives a truly disturbing performance in his acting debut as a serial killer named Quinn Brady.  There’s tons of hard rock music throughout the movie, including a new song for the end credits that was co-written by Motley Crue’s Nikki Six and Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein, the composers on Stranger Things, composed the movie’s score.  Joseph Gatt is also a great villain, physically imposing and terrifying and he and Lombardi have a knockdown, drag-out fight toward the end of the film that is fantastic and literally destroys an entire house as they slam each other into walls, cabinets, TVs, and anything else that they can find.  There are some excellent, old-school gore effects throughout the movie as well and it almost reaches Dead Alive levels as things escalate, with Lombardi getting absolutely drenched in blood.  If you’re a gorehound, the last half of The Retaliators is something you are definitely going to want to check out.

The Retaliators is an excellent throwback to 70s revenge thrillers and over-the-top 80s horror and the reveal of what is actually going on takes it to a unique and twisted new level.

Where to watch The Retaliators

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