Author and filmmaker Gregory Lamberson (Black Creek, Killer Rack) has cast Anthony De La Torre and Michael DeLorenzo in Red Hill Movies LLC’s horror thriller Johnny Gruesome, which shoots in Western New York this month. De La Torre (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales), front man for the Nashville based rock band De La Torre, will essay the role of Johnny Grissom, a rebellious teenager who is murdered and returns from the grave with revenge on his mind. DeLorenzo (star of New York Undercover and Resurrection Boulevard) plays his grief stricken father. Byron Brown II (The Romans) co-stars, with newcomers April Panaggio and Madison Amey, Chris Modrzynski (Rainbow Bridge Motel), Kim Piazza (Dry Bones) and Richard Lounello (A Mother’s Revenge) in principal roles.
Lamberson wrote the screenplay for Johnny Gruesome in 1984, at the age of 19, shortly after completing the script for his cult film Slime City. In 2007, Bad Moon Books published his novelization of the script as a limited edition hardcover, and one year later Medallion Media Group published a paperback edition which is still available. The novel won the IPPY Gold Medal for Horror and the Black Quill Small Press Readers’ Choice Award from Dark Scribe Magazine, and earned a Bram Stoker Award nomination from the Horror Writers Association. After completing his new comedy Killer Rack, Lamberson and fellow filmmaker John Renna (Dick Johnson and Tommygun vs. the Cannibal Cop) approached Erin Heald and James Williams, who agreed to executive produce.
“This film has been 32 years in the waiting,” says Lamberson. “After securing the funding, my first priority was to cast Johnny. I needed someone who could win over the audience as a bad boy before transforming into a supernatural creature. As soon as I saw Anthony’s head shot I knew he was my guy, and he’s a talented musician to boot. I offered him the role right after I watched his music videos. For Charlie Grissom, I wanted an experienced actor but didn’t want to go the ‘horror actor’ route. Michael has such an impressive body of work, and he’s a talented director as well. These are two multi-talented artists.”
Special make-up effects are being created by Craig Lindberg, who worked on some of Lamberson’s earliest films before becoming a successful make-up and special make-up effects artist on such television series as Saturday Night Live, Boardwalk Empire and Royal Pains. Additional makeup effects are being provided by Mark Kosobucki, and Matthew A. Nardone of NDstudios is the cinematographer. Lamberson aims to complete his dream project by the end of the year and hopes to secure a theatrical release. Johnny Gruesome will be the first of his novels to reach the screen; Carnage Road and his six-book occult detective series The Jake Helman Files are in development with other filmmakers. Lamberson is co-founder of Buffalo Dreams Fantastic Film Festival.