Killer Music Cameos

The Retaliators is a slick indie powerhouse with a killer soundtrack and vicious action. A man of God is severely tested when faced with the opportunity to avenge his daughter’s brutal murder in this Jersey-based tale of mayhem and vengeance. Michael Lombardi (Rescue Me), Marc Menchaca (Ozark), and a menacing Joseph Gatt (Game of Thrones) head the cast. Music fans may like knowing Jacoby Shaddix of Papa Roach fame makes his acting debut while Mötley Crüe’s Tommy Lee gives a brief cameo as a sleazy DJ. Messy in all the right places, The Retaliators is an exercise in raw terror.

Devastated by his daughter’s disturbing death, Pastor John Bishop (Michael Lombardi) is offered a chance to obtain his own brand of justice against the unrepentant killer. Joseph Gatt plays a deliciously wicked villain, a pure psychopath caught up in a gang war. The Retaliators is a pastiche of many genre influences, chief among them Saw, Hostel, The Hills Have Eyes, and The Last House on the Left, so you can guess what type of movie this is without knowing too many plot details. Throw in a little Sons of Anarchy and John Wick for good measure, it’s an unusually congested horror film with several great ideas colliding together like unruly pinballs.

Messy in all the right places, The Retaliators is an exercise in raw terror

Nicely put together by co-directors Bridget Smith and Samuel Gonzalez with slick direction in a quality package, there’s a relentless intensity and edge which keeps you hanging on for dear life. A wonderfully terrorizing opening set piece of two stranded motorists being attacked makes you question how it fits into the overall scheme. Don’t worry, a neat little twist pays off in a wild and bloody final act.

The Retaliators is packed full of cameos from recognizable actors and music stars. T-Bag from Prison Break (Robert Knepper), Tommy Lee, Dante from Clerks, and more pop up in small roles. Members from Papa Roach and Five Finger Death Punch make their acting debuts. Music in the film includes songs by 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, and many more.

Tonal consistency might be the film’s biggest flaw. What starts out somewhat maudlin and even a little hokey, maybe even Hallmarkish in style, takes you to a much darker and dangerous place before unveiling a whopper of a surprise. The Retaliators is crafted with several outstanding production touches. It never feels like a cheap gorefest put together for the amusement of its rockstar cast.

There’s an audience for The Retaliators somewhere out there with its rather unique blend of high-octane torture and gut wrenching moral dilemma faced by its lead character, an upstanding pastor tossed into a bloody world of gang conflict. Don’t forget the cannibals. Did I mention the cannibals? Oh yes, there are cannibals but it’s better you find out how in the film.


Quiver Films provides a stout, handsome Blu-ray presentation for The Retaliators. Struck from the indie production’s razor-sharp digital intermediate bursting with crisp definition and stark clarity, the 2.39:1 video is consistently excellent with no major complaints. The main feature runs 95 minutes on a BD-25, encoded in a slightly noisy AVC job with minor chroma noise and banding.

The 1080p resolution offers solid fine detail from an unfiltered master, often lit for maximum depth. Given the low-budget filmmaking, a few inconsistencies arise with blown-out highlights and vaguely unnatural color correction.


The Retaliators comes stacked with a heavyweight musical soundtrack and blistering audio, courtesy of a dynamic 5.1 DTS-HD MA surround mix. Lively and discrete, it packs a real punch when necessary while maintaining intelligible dialogue. The film is intimately tied to its musical backing with an original score from Emmy-winning composers Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein, known for their stellar work on Stranger Things.

In addition to the film’s theme song “21 Bullets” (co-written by Nikki Sixx of Mötley Crüe), the loaded soundtrack features a lineup of hard-hitting tracks from bands Five Finger Death Punch, The Hu, Papa Roach, Tommy Lee, Asking Alexandria, Eva Under Fire, From Ashes To New, Cory Marks, Hyro The Hero, and more.

Four singles from the film have already reached #1 on Rock Radio since 2020, including Papa Roach’s “The Ending,” Five Finger Death Punch’s “Darkness Settles In,” All Good Things’ “For the Glory featuring Hollywood Undead,” and Bad Wolves’ “Lifeline.”

Optional English SDH subtitles play in a white font outside the widescreen presentation. A secondary 2.0 DTS-HD MA stereo audio is offered.


Quiver Films distributes the gory thriller, packing the Blu-ray with cast interviews and several music videos. A slipcover is available in early pressings. Their distribution roster is quite eclectic, a smattering of horror and arthouse mixed in with a few Woody Allen films.

Cast Interviews (11:11 in HD) – Split up into nine separate interviews, the brief snippets feature primary cast members like lead Michael Lombardi and secondary players like Chris Kael of Five Finger Death Punch.

The Retaliators Music Videos (21:32 in HD; 2.0 Dolby Digital) – Five music videos from a few of the bands on the movie’s official soundtrack show up including Papa Roach. Theme song “21 Bullets” features members of Mötley Crüe, Asking Alexandria, Ice Nine Kills and others.

The Retaliators Theatrical Trailer (02:29 in HD)

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided by the label for review. This has not materially affected DoBlu’s editorial process. For information on how we handle all review material, please visit DoBlu’s about us page.

The Retaliators
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A roller coaster ride of gore and intense action providing genre thrills in spite of a few sappy dramatic touches

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 41 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots ripped directly from the Blu-ray:

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