Exclusive: Dread Central Visits the Set of Army of the Damned - Part 1
It's not often we hear of a cast as unique as the one producer Chad A. Verdi and Woodhaven Pictures put together for their upcoming film Army of the Damned. So when we got an invite to visit the Rhode Island set, it was a no-brainer.
Headlined by horror legend Tony Todd, the cast was an amazingly diverse bunch, and we got a chance to talk to all of them about their experiences filming Army of the Damned. There were so many key contributors to this movie that we had to break our report into a two-part series; in this section we talk with Todd, horror mainstay Nick Principe, wrestling legend Tommy Dreamer, gorgeous wrestlers Maria Kanellis and Thea Trinidad and one of Army of the Damned female leads, Jackie Moore.
We figured there was no one better to talk to on the set first than the icon, Tony Todd. We knew he'd give us the scoop as to just how things were going here. "I play Jackson, a gung-ho SWAT officer who has kind of a death wish, and he gets what he wants," Todd said. "We were able to make an interesting choice and went with an electric cigarette, instead of the cigar thing, which I haven't seen in a film yet. So we're trying to set some new standards. Even after death he's trying to find human language and behavior again. He's not just a zombie that's given up. He's trying to come back to consciousness."
Speaking on his experiences with the diverse cast, Todd said, "It's just incredible, just the differences of people and everyone coming together for the unification of doing a film. That's what filmmaking is, collaboration on the highest level. Everybody check your ego at the door because we've got to do this thing. And the crew has been incredible."
Todd also got to enjoy some new experiences working on Army of the Damned. "I held my first actual machine gun tonight," Todd said. "I looked at night vision. Have you ever looked at night vision? Dude, you can spot a cockroach in the forest with that shit. It's really just scary what it can see. Now I know that they do have computers looking at our houses. Watch your behavior!"
The rest of the cast and crew continuously commented on the professionalism Tony Todd brought to the project. He explained how that's the only way to be. "For everybody out there who wants to be an actor..." Todd said, "when I started, I had more of a temper. I was like 'Fuck you, fuck you!' But you learn you need to find out a person's strengths, find out why they're on the production and you come with your professionalism and it brings everyone else up and we all walk away happy and you find yourself working with the same people again and again. I'll be working with [producer] Chad Verdi again. We get scripts every day, but we don't do them all. We pick and choose. Army of the Damned is a great one."
Also no stranger to the horror genre, Nick Principe pulled double-duty on the film as an actor and stunt coordinator. "I worked with Tom DeNucci for a couple days as an actor on Self Storage when I stunt coordinated that and we've hung out a lot since," Principe said. "My character, Donald, pretty much is me, only a lot more irresponsible and a bit dumber, I guess. But that's open to interpretation. It's just an enhancement of myself. I think that's why he hired me for this. It's cool."
Principe also found himself in a new type of role. "I told Tom I wanted to play a good guy, because I always play the bad guy," Principe said. "I wanted to give it a shot." And aside from playing a good guy, Principe's behind-the-scenes responsibilities kept him busy. "It's common for the stunt coordinator to direct second unit," he said. "And second unit is almost always fights and explosions and shit like that. So there's a lot of brawls in it. He wrote a lot of stuff and I try to always give them what they want, but budget and time limits everything. So you usually have to condense a lot of stuff. But if he's happy, I'm happy and if he's not happy, then I want to reshoot it. But he hasn't put me in that position yet."
In one of the lead female roles in the movie, the gorgeous Jackie Moore will certainly have viewers taking notice. "I found out they were filming this project and I thought it was a cool idea," Moore said. "I play Kayla Watts and she is a reporter on a show called 'The Force.' And basically what's happening in the film is 'The Force' is interviewing this small town sheriff and in trying to get some action, trying to get a good story, it turns into us coming to this house and the house is not what it seems. It's not just a domestic disturbance, it's something much more scary. I'm so thankful to Chad Verdi, Tom DeNucci and David Gere for making me a part of it."
And in the film the blonde bombshell Moore found herself dealing with some physical scenes, but nothing she couldn't handle. "It's been a good mixture of fun scenes and stunts," Moore said. "It's my first time doing stunts, and last night we had a scene where Tommy Dreamer grabbed me and threw me, but I was a gymnast growing up and I've kind of always kept that and I think it came out great."
Speaking of The Innovator of Violence, wrestling legend Tommy Dreamer, he enjoyed his experiences working with Woodhaven Pictures so much the first time on Self Storage, and did such an impressive job, both sides decided to work together again. "I have a much bigger role this time," Dreamer said. "I'm very, very happy about it. I'm Officer Carpoza, first upon the scene. I'm a grizzled veteran of the police force and I have a young rookie who's under my wing and I've seen and done it all and she's really excited. It's a character pretty close to myself, especially being with Thea Trinidad [Dreamer's partner in the film]. I've kind of taken Thea under my wing in the world of professional wrestling so we've got a really good chemistry. I know she wants to have a love scene with me, but unfortunately that won't happen. I have a really big part in the film and I'm thrilled to be working with the cast and crew again. They are hardworking people and I'm going to miss not being around them. They've helped me out a lot. It's really, really cool and I'm happy to be a part of it."
And in true hardcore icon style, Dreamer brings physicality to the film in a way only he can. "I actually have a big welt on my head from a fight scene last night, but again, it wouldn't be Tommy Dreamer-esque if it wasn't self-inflicted. I ripped a medical thing out of the ambulance and bashed it into my own head." The medical thing never stood a chance. He's hardcore, he's hardcore!
Dreamer is still working on the wrestling circuit but making time to continue his acting career as well. "Today I woke up, drove from Rhode Island (where Army of the Damned is being filmed) to New York and had my match and drove right back up here. Eight hours in the car today and then I'll work all night and I have a show in Philly tomorrow. It's good that they work around my schedule."
Dreamer made note of the similarities between fans of wrestling and fans of horror. "I think with this movie, with this cast, it offers something for everyone," Dreamer said. "Will I win an Academy Award for this movie? Absolutely not, but it's an entertaining movie and fans of the horror genre, they're just like wrestling fans. They're so loyal. I've started doing the conventions and I can't believe how many fans come up to me and are like 'You were real-life horror. You were always bloody, you were always a regular guy who played a victim. You were one of us. You fought with weapons and usually rose to the occasion.' I was like a real-life horror person, except, sadly, it was my real blood, it was real barbed wire, it was real fire. But again, they're so loyal, they love their genre and just like wrestling fans, it's a great combination."
Finally, Dreamer raved about young director Tom DeNucci. I've got to give major props to Tom," Dreamer said. "My job is to see his vision through, but he also asks 'What do you think?' and a lot of people don't do that. So it's really, really cool and it's been an unbelievable experience."
Also from the wrestling world is a former WWE Diva, veteran of "Celebrity Apprentice" and current First Lady of Ring of Honor, Maria Kanellis. The red-headed beauty is making her feature film debut. "This is my first film that's actually done, completed and actually going to make it out to people, so I'm excited about that. I've been a host before that was kind of like a red-headed Elvira, not quite as good as her, but I've been a host for horror movies, really bad horror movies, in the past. But this is my first film and I'm really excited about it and so thankful I got the call to do it."
Kanellis plays a no-nonsense police officer in the film. "My character starts out as a tough woman," Kanellis said. "She's very strong. She's on the SWAT team so she has to be tough. And she carries the biggest gun! She's a marksman. She's a sniper and can hit from hundreds of yards. And when she's damned you see the softer side, the sexier side. Everybody, I think, is going to be pleased. In the cast you have a rock star, you have a porn star, you have a Playboy cover model, ECW legend, female wrestler extraordinaire…you have a horror legend in Tony Todd. You just have so many characters and actors in this that are just amazing and come from amazing backgrounds. So I'm very thankful to be in a cast like this."
The female wrestler extraordinaire Kanellis is referring to in the above quote is Thea Trinidad. This exotic beauty is also making her second appearance in a Woodhaven film. Best known as TNA Knockout Rosita, Trinidad plays the young partner of Tommy Dreamer's veteran cop. "It's been amazing," Trinidad said. "Just considering the fact that they had so much faith in me from the beginning, giving me a big role, and it's my first major role like this. I just said 'I'm going to give them something and if they like it, great! And if not, they can tweak it any way they want.' But they really liked it. And I've had a blast doing it and it explores a different side of me."
Filming for Army of the Damned is complete and the film is in post-production, scheduled for a release later this year.
Check back for Part 2 of our report soon!
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