Interview: Eva Marie Talks ‘The Retaliators’ Movie and What’s Next for Eva Under Fire

If you’re looking for a schlocky B-movie horror with heart for your Halloween viewing, The Retaliators has got you covered. Featuring more metal and rock legends than a festival line-up, the movie and its soundtrack will make you equally rocked-out and grossed-out.

Check out our reviews for both the movie and the soundtrack; give them both a watch/listen, then scoot on back over here for our interview with rock star turned The Retaliators movie star, Amanda Lyberg, aka Eva Marie of Eva Under Fire.

Or you can just read it now, but you have been warned: SPOILERS!!!

Amanda Lyberg The Retaliators

Hey Amanda! How did you get involved with the Retaliators?
Hey! It was cool because management sort of set it up. They were wanting to feature a lot of (Better Noise Records) artists in the movie, and originally my part was super tiny, sort of being a creep in the corner. But then I fell in love with that, and I made a bunch of friends, and so Michael Lombardi, who stars in the film, said we’d like to have you in the full opening scene. They put me back out to set, and I got to spend more time with it. It was really cool.

So were you originally going to be one of the zombies?
Yeah, one of the subhumans. The concept is that they’re tormented souls that have lost their humanity, but there’s no actual virus or anything like that. 

What was your first experience of being in a movie like?
I just loved all of the behind-the-scenes organization of it. I could see everybody in their different departments and how the production team did their thing. And I spent a lot of time in props, which was really cool because they had actual machetes.

It felt almost like a really extended music video, which I guess is the only thing that I had to reference from before this. It was really just fascinating. And I loved seeing all of the overlap from musician to actor, the way that you perform in your music videos. The creative adaptation of a character in the way that person may have felt, or conveying some desperation, there was a lot of that expression. I felt like I gravitated to that because of writing and being a lyricist as well.

My character in the film is also very reflective of that. It’s me and my best friend, and we’re going to a concert and kind of get lost along the way. So I could relate a lot to that character. 

Did you have to do much preparation for the role, and were you able to have much input on the character?
I did, but it was unexpected. When the filming was happening, some of that was very early COVID stages, and some of it was very late COVID stages, (which affected) schedules and people traveling to set, and so there was some rearranging that needed be done. And so my part was one of those pieces that they kind of rewrote in order to fit me, which was special because the way they had originally organized it, that actor couldn’t make it to set, and so they changed it into something that I felt I could portray and pull off and something that was also relevant to the film. 

I loved that they ended up making it about going to a concert because there’s so many rock star cameos in this film. I felt like it was just a really cool fit. But yeah, it was just the luck of the draw that I was able to have some input like that. Well, and also Michael Lombardi is just an amazing human, and he called me up and was like, “So, what do you think?” And I was like, “I’ve never been in a film!”

As you said, the movie has an insane cast. What were your highlights of working with such a strong cast and crew, including a female director?
Just the way (Bridget Smith, co-director) saw all of the storyline pieces and the character development, I think was very much a part of what she specialized in. And I love that so much because it goes from this story about a family and then kind of quickly devolves into the gorefest side of things. And I think that that that buildup was something that she had a very heavy hand in, which was really cool.

Working with the cast, Marc Menchaca was on one of my excursions to set and he was just an incredible human as well and he’s in Ozark, you know. I mean, this is an actor that has lots of experience working in the film industry, but also in very relevant new series. Michael Lombardi, he was in Rescue Me, which ran for a million and a half seasons. So, these are seasoned veterans that are training me up and getting me under their wing. I felt very much onboarded and felt their support. Also to have those very special moments, like I was part of Marc’s rap party on set and we got to hang out afterwards. It was a very special experience.

Is acting something you’re interested in pursuing further?
I would consider it for sure. I had so much fun. I feel like I would probably be one of those type-cast actresses because it’s not something I feel like I could just embody a character that I have no experience with to draw from. I feel like certain actors are just able to feel the script and be that and become that character. I don’t know that’s a skill that I possess. But for characters that speak to me and for characters that I feel like I could draw on my own experiences in order to embody, I feel like it would definitely be something I could do in the future.

I love being part of the whole film festival experience too, as an independent film. There’s such a culture behind film, much like there’s such a culture behind rock and roll. That was another thing that made me gravitate toward this film, specifically. I was able to attend the premiere at the Santa Fe Film Festival. And it was so cool just to see the first vision of the film and the first big screens and the first (audience) reaction to it. It reminded me very much of some of my early days in rock music and being in the clubs. It’s a very underground process. I really felt at home with that in the film world as well. 

It’s really cool, you know, so thank you for inviting me to come talk about it!

Eva Under Fire have a killer track on the soundtrack, amongst some genre legends. What was the process like for that?
It was interesting because “Blow” is the name of the song that’s on the soundtrack. It was something we wrote as just a feisty, fun, rock song. And then they said they wanted it for this scary movie, and I was like, really? I was having a hard time seeing how it would fit. And then they sent me the treatment for what their vision was with the music video and I was like, this is dope. 

They tied it in with the visuals and they floated it over to the Ice Nine Kills camp to see if Spencer (Charnas) would jump on the track. This is while we were still distancing and there wasn’t much in person so I’d never met these people. And I went, “He doesn’t even know us; definitely ask him; I just don’t know how that’s gonna happen.” Spencer reaches back out and he’s like, “What if we wrote the second verse according to my character in the film?” I loved how he allowed (the character) to inspire his part in the song, and I think it helped to tie it in even more. I was very excited about the end result. 

Your vocals sound so good together. I’ve listened to “Blow” so many times. It’s so catchy, and then Spencer’s vocals on it just go with yours so well. I was reading the comments on YouTube and so many people are saying the same thing.
That’s cool because their musical journey has such an expanse as well, right!? His vocal range is pretty vast, and his vocal carries so well with what we do on our song “Blow” that it’s surprising to me that his voice could also do that too, so that’s encouraging to hear you say that you’d feel like we fit together.

So have you seen any effects from the movie yet? It seems to already have quite a cult following, which must be exciting.
I think so. Not to toot my own horn here, but I called it when we were filming it. I was like this has massive Evil Dead vibes, and I think many people are going to catch on to that really quickly. So it is exciting for me because it’s sort of like a self-fulfilling prophecy a little bit. The pacing of the film devolves into a gore fest later on, and I think the story itself has a little bit of a twist with the way that they get there. It’s very dark but once you’re in it, the visual itself looks very reminiscent of Evil Dead.

I had so much fun with that part of it as well, so I’m stoked. If there’s anybody in this whole world that’s going to just love this film. I think there are so many fans of independent horror film, like that’s their specialty. There are the classics, and there are those that are super well done and they’ve got all these crazy special effects. This movie has done really well visually in the cinematic way that it sets up all of the different scenes. I think I think it’s very exciting to see everybody’s responses so far.

It’s funny because everything that you’re saying is what I wrote in my notes as I was watching the film, about the pacing and how that makes it more impactful, and how it makes you think about right and wrong.
Yeah, so that’s always been, like, a tagline, even from when people started to first read the script for this before filming ever began. The tagline was “horror with a heart” because it has this very “right and wrong” theme all the way through. Almost as polar opposites, there’s this preacher with this family, and then you get the drug den and chaos.

Now, I can’t interview someone about starring in a horror movie and not ask: What’s your favorite scary movie?
It probably is Evil Dead to be honest with you. I am much more a fan of the classics and the stuff that has jump scares but is older, so they don’t have all the special effects that make it look real. Those are cool to me, so I feel like I’m participating in that nostalgic vibe for Halloween themes and spooky season and different things. I also think Gremlins is very creepy.

So those are probably two of my favorites. But I’m also a chicken, so when I told my friends I of all people was gonna be in a horror movie, they all but died laughing. They were like, “Are you even gonna be able to make it through filming?” I said, “Listen, it’s different; you know it’s not real.” 

But I have written off all scary movies other than slasher films because I can’t deal with the themes. Demonic possession really gets me; aliens really get me, and I can’t stomach zombies because that could happen, and I would probably have to hide in someone’s backpack, so I’m not good at this at all. But this movie was cool.

What have Eva Under Fire got planned for the future?
So many things! So you mentioned “Blow,” and it’s on the soundtrack for The Retaliators; it’s also on a full-length album that we (just dropped) titled Love, Drugs and Misery. And it’s been in the works since before the pandemic. We were approved to release, and then the pandemic hit, so we have been waiting to give this to people for a very long time. And I really I’m excited to see what people feel about it because I feel like there’s a lot of emotional roller coaster on the album. We have songs that are just feisty, and there’s lots of songs that are very inspirational personally and amongst even my bandmates. We have a lot of loved ones who struggled with addiction and substance abuse-type issues, and so there’s a lot of songs that reflect that in the lyricism.

We stick to our rock ‘n’ roll roots, so lots of them do have guitar solos. And we put the high-production value on the songs as well; it sounds massive. Hopefully that will see us do more touring; maybe we’ll get a chance to see some of our people outside of the states.

So cheers to 2023; I think it’s gonna be a great year for us!  I’m just happy we can get out there, and that shows are happening and travel is happening, and it’s all back!

The Retaliators is available on demand now—Find it on your chosen streaming service here.

Follow The Retaliators movie on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/TikTok for more info.

Follow Eva Under Fire on Facebook/Instagram/TikTok.

Images courtesy of Eva Under Fire and The Retaliators movie.

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