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The careers of New Jersey-born actor Danny Lopes and
writer/director Dante Tomaselli have been closely linked ever since Tomaselli
got his hands on a camera. Lopes made his acting debut in Tomaselli’s first
effort, 1999’s DESECRATION, and the actor has appeared in all of the Jersey
auteur’s films since then—HORROR, SATAN’S PLAYGROUND (pictured) and the
upcoming TORTURE CHAMBER (see previous item here).
With a recent move to LA (though he will remain bicoastal), Lopes continues to
spread his creative wings, producing and starring in a new slasher opus called
THE LOCALS (no relation to the New Zealand film of the same name; see teaser
poster below and previous story here).
Lopes tells Fango all about his latest screen stints, beginning with his
collaborations with Tomaselli.
FANGORIA: What’s TORTURE CHAMBER about, and what kind of
character do you play in the
DANNY LOPES: TORTURE CHAMBER is about a family torn apart by
sin. Thirteen-year-old Jimmy Morgan is possessed. His religious mother thinks
it’s a demonic entity. His older brother, a Catholic priest, tries to exorcise
him. When Jimmy is sent to an institution for disturbed kids, he escapes with a
group of followers and discovers an old abandoned castle with a tunnel to a
torture chamber. I play Ralph, a homeless hippie drifter. It’s a cameo. Dante
said it’s kind of a homage to Luck, my drug-addicted character in his second
film, HORROR. I play in the scene with onscreen girlfriend Raine Brown. And
there’s a specific reference to my first film, DESECRATION… “A deep hole in the
FANG: Does the film play into the whole “torture porn”/SAW
LOPES: Not at all. TORTURE CHAMBER is its own animal. Dante
really reached deep into his gut to write, design and score it. The film
creates its own tide. From the very beginning, you are thrown into a colorful
nightmare world of an emotionally tortured priest. The subjects TORTURE CHAMBER
touches will definitely get under your skin. I don’t want to give away too
FANG: How does the film compare with Tomaselli’s previous
LOPES: We are still experiencing the depths of hell. Dante
has a way of bringing us into his nightmares. This picture is different from
the past films in the sense that this one is more realistic. A possession…deep
family issues…burnt children retaliating from personal pain. The locations are
amazing. We shot in settings that make TORTURE CHAMBER’s production value much
higher than that of our previous projects.
FANG: How did you guys first hook up?
LOPES: I auditioned for DESECRATION when I was 15 years old.
It was two weeks before principal photography was set to start. Dante had me
come to his New Jersey location and read a few scenes from his script. That
experience is forever locked in my thoughts and heart. I was pretending that
there was a hole, a very deep hole in his living room. A few days later, I
heard from his mother, Maureen Tomaselli, who was helping with casting and let
me know I had locked the main role of Bobby, the 16-year-old loner haunted by
the death of his mother.
FANG: Tomaselli is very loyal to you. You’ve appeared in all
his films, right?
LOPES: Yes, as I am loyal to him and his visions. Dante has
given me the opportunity to show my range in my acting craft with very
different characters within his nightmares. I look forward to working with him
for the rest of his career.
FANG: How has he changed as a director?
LOPES: Dante is very humble. It’s not about anything but the
horror art. He won’t ever change. He is committed to translating his dreams and
is a perfectionist with his vision. What is changing are the budgets and the
amount of money he gets to film! I am aspiring to lock down funds for his
future endeavors and be an executive producer on his upcoming films.
FANG: How has the move from East to West Coast worked out
LOPES: The move has given me fuel. Out here, in Los Angeles,
it is a different animal. I am more in my element, surrounded by the
entertainment industry. New York gives me comfort and I have my family. I’m
completely bicoastal at this point, and I am fortunate to have homes on both
coasts of this outstanding country.
FANG: You are an executive producer and star of a new movie,
THE LOCALS. How did that come about?
LOPES: One of my best friends from Hollywood, Eric Pereira,
wrote an amazing script and approached me to raise money. I fell in love with
the story and the way it would be shot/edited.
FANG: Tell us about the plot of that one, and who else is in
LOPES: THE LOCALS is a found-footage movie that takes place
in 1987. It depicts a group of low-budget filmmakers, played by Matthew Landon,
Devanny Pinn, Greg Duke and Angelina Armani, who head into the woods to film a
slasher movie called SPLATTER MOUNTAIN. Accompanying them are three actors,
including an aging, coke-addicted former centerfold [Tawny Amber Young], a
bubbly, ditzy porn queen who is out of work due to the Traci Lords scandal
[Angie Savage] and a pretentious, Juilliard-trained actor [Brandon Slagle]
mortified by his co-stars and the conditions he is working under. An uptight
reporter [David Carter-T] joins the group at the last minute to cover the
production for a nationally famous horror magazine. As the group heads deep
into the mountains, they are unaware that they are being stalked by a feral
family of cannibals [Larry Laverty, Erik Preston, Rachel Grubb and Daniel
Murawka], who have been picking off random people unfortunate enough to have
wandered into their territory for decades.
The story is told through the lenses of two video cameras
and three VHS cassette tapes that are found years later. The film takes the
modern framework of the found-footage genre and places it firmly in the ’80s,
capturing the distinct look, style and vibe of that era. The first half the
movie is a fun, hilarious, raunchy comedy where inept filmmakers and actors
take to the woods to make a shot-on-video splatter movie. Then it shifts gears
and becomes a dark, horrific rollercoaster ride as the group finds itself
systematically butchered by the cannibal family residing in those woods. The
special effects by Jacob Gilman and Angie Johnson are extreme and explicit in
their portrayal of human dismemberment and cannibalism. Myself, Bree Essrig,
Kelly Marchand and Caroline Posada also appear in the film as an all-girl rock
band—I’m their manager—who find themselves accidentally caught up in the
FANG: Is producing what you want to move into?
LOPES: I have always been into producing. When I was younger,
in grammar school, I would produce 30-minute shorts with friends and people
from my community. My passion to create started a long time ago. Yes, I am
looking into becoming one of the best producers of my generation. Right now,
there are multiple projects I’m locking down funds for. I am an entrepreneur
and an artist. Being able to fund and produce the projects of others brings me
FANG: Any other future productions?
LOPES: Projects are swarming in! I have three scripts from
different interesting directors. I am being considered for some great roles.
Outside of the film industry, I work on websites, mobile applications and
inventions, and produce music as well. I am releasing a song next month by an
artist and friend named Gary Gomez [Doubl3 Gg] on iTunes and other
media-download sites. It’s a house track called “Happy Birthday 2 U.” This is a
new endeavor for me, so I am excited! My website will have a
soft relaunch this spring.
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