Danny Lopes: The indie star in Dante Tomaselli's horror films. by Greg Tiderington

Danny Lopes is gaining a reputation acting in independent horror flicks created by Dante Tomaselli. At the age of 14 he was playing the role of Bobby Rullo in the critically acclaimed 'Desecration' and then played a similar character as a drug user named Luck in 'Horror' and he will be seen as Sean in the upcoming film 'Satan's Playground' which is awaiting theatrical distribution. A busy New Jersey actor he is with more upcoming horror films along the way. Danny also works behind-the-scenes as a production assistant in movies. This was a terrific interview I had with him.


The summer I turned 15 we, finally, got cable in my small Western New York town.Greg: At what age did you see yourself as an actor?

Danny: I have always been observing and absorbing energy...preparing for this craft I knew I would enter. It all makes sense being a Leo.

Greg: Did you see yourself acting in horror films?  

Danny: Not really. I always had an attraction to the genre but never thought it was going to be my ticket into the industry.  

Greg: How did you hear about Desecration?  

Danny: I joined an agency when I was 14, a year later I was contacted by my agent and was told about the project.

Greg: What was required for you to audition?  

Danny: It was an on camera test. I auditioned in Jersey. Dante Tomaselli had me play out the scene in Desecration where Bobby's character was yelling down a hole...I had to pretend that the carpeted floor was actually a treacherous hole that my friend Sean had fallen down, and make it believable.

Greg: What was it like working with Dante Tomaselli?  

Danny: Every film we've made so far has been in ice cold conditions...VERY COLD! But, even in freezing temperatures, working on Dante Tomaselli films is a very special thing. He is a brilliant man and director who stays very focused on his visions and has the perfect amount of intensity on set. He expects professionalism from all his actors and the same from his crew members. There definitely is a formula to his creating masterpiece...and I am glad to be apart of it.

Greg: Was there any memorable experiences on set for your character Bobby that you'd like to share with us?

Danny: Two huge memories come from scenes that were cut out of the final project. Both were during dream sequences in Bobby's dorm room. One, was when I had this long glowing lubricated umbilical cord break through my stomach and maneuver its way right through the ceiling. The other, was when I was sleeping in bed and surrounded by mist and fog.  I was attacked by a huge snake with razor sharp teeth that was caked with KY jelly. We shot both scenes in reverse...I was fascinated by the manipulation of film.  

Greg: Was there any scary experiences at all?  

Danny: One night scene where Christie Sandford chases me down, picks me up and throws me into the fiery pit. She was in complete make-up, laughing at me in her sinister way. Then, she throws me into the pit and I stab myself in the back on a piece of wood from the set. It really hurt. The pit was very tight and I had to squeeze in there with an art assistant that was lighting smoke cookies. While the scene was still playing out above ground my pants caught on fire. I was really scared that the whole rig was gonna catch on fire but I didn't want to screw up the shot. I managed to last the whole take without any burns...but my heart was pounding.

Greg: Did it feel a little awkward to you when you were portraying an overgrown baby when Christie Sanford's character as your Mom was scaring you?

Danny: Not one bit. I live for wild, interesting scenes like that one.  When I auditioned, Dante had shown the version from his short film. It made me want the role even more. The crew made me very comfortable. We were on a tight time schedule, I was in that cage for hours and hours...During takes I had people bring me snacks and we'd joke a lot. I also played with my stuffed animals.

Greg: What actor or actress did you enjoy working with the most on that set?

Danny: I loved all the actors on that project. We were like a huge family. Irma St. Paule was a great grandmother.

Greg: Did you get any feedback from fans during the release of the film at festivals or on DVD?

Danny: The reviews online never stopped coming. They came from all over the world. I loved seeing critics from other countries speak about the film.

Greg: What was your next film after Desecration?

Danny: I starred in Dante's second feature Horror.

Greg: In Horror you play a drug user named Luck which was similar to your character Bobby. Was Dante giving your the same directions for that?

Danny:  Some directions were similar...Luck in Dante's eyes is Bobby, a few years later. After coping with murder and addictions and having a child hood like Bobby's it's natural that the character would become the sociopath he is in 'Horror'.

Greg: While your character was escaping from rehab with his friends you were in a van and there was a lot of snow which can be dangerous at times. Was it slippery to drive or were there any hazards or did the van stall at all?

Danny: The van we used definitely had a mind of its own...    

Greg: Was the gun you used cap gun?  

Danny: No, it was a real gun. We used blanks though. Producers would bring it on set locked in a chest for safety. We only had it out during takes. It was such a rush shooting it...I was realizing dreams of being in a film and shooting a gun. It is definitely a scene young actors practice over and over again.

Greg: What was it like for you meeting the Amazing Kreskin for the first time as he played Reverend Salo?

Danny: It felt as if I had known him for years. It was very exciting because my mind was set in the same realm as his...I felt close to all the actors.

Greg: Did you ever watch any of his shows?  

Danny: No. Not really my time. But, right after Kreskin was added to the cast I watched a few tapes that introduced him to me. It was nice knowing a personality that was on 'The Johnny Carson Show' was also going to be in the same film I was going to be in. 

Greg: What about Felissa Rose as you had two scenes with her towards the ending since she played the Art Therapist?

Danny: I love Felissa.    

Greg: Were you a fan of any of her films?

Danny:  I had seen 'Sleepaway Camp' a few times before meeting her so I was excited that the scream queen was joining us. I haven't seen any of her other work.

Greg: What kind of effect did Scott Sliger use when Vincent Lamberti's character bit your neck or when the patient look scarred or burned?

Danny: Prosthetics...    

Greg: What do you remember the most out of doing that film?  

Danny: The black satanic goat. He was such a great actor to work with. And the last day filming. It was wild seeing all the zombies creeping around the set. Lizzy Mahon was barefoot in the snow. I will never forget 'Horror'. I had such a fun time filming it...I remember crying when it was all over.

Greg: Did you ever go and see it during it's festival run?  

Danny: No...But I was very happy seeing it win Best Cinematography at The New York Horror Film Festival.

Greg: After the film you took some acting workshops. What was the reason for doing so?

Danny: It is my destiny to act; I am not one that thinks you need it taught. But, every actor needs something to add to his or her resume...I wanted people to know I wasn't lazy and that I care about my craft.

Greg: Did you receive any work in TV, stage or film besides working with Tomaselli?  

Danny: Not really. I've only been on a few auditions and haven't had anyone representing me since 'Desecration'. I patiently wait from one project to the next and sometimes hit up industry parties.

Greg: You played a University student in a trashy horror/comedy flick in the Troma Team vein called 'Nikos' which starred Felissa Rose but however I never saw you throughout that film. Was your scene cut out?

Danny: This film really never had permission to add me to the credits. I was never really photographed. Felissa Rose had invited me to the set of the film as a guest and I was asked by the director to stand in as an extra...To support Felissa, I did. Then, when the film was released, I started seeing the credit pop up - like on the IMDb. I have been trying to get myself disassociated with the project but its still haunting me, haha. It was very unprofessional.

Greg:  What did your character do in the film?  

Danny: Absolutely nothing and I have never seen the film.    

Greg: Now you play Sean in 'Satan's Playground' which has been completed and Dante is looking for a theatrical distributor. Who do you play in that one and what does he do?

Danny: My character Sean is an autistic teenager. He has some sort of telepathic abilities and is usually neglected by his family. He is very much connected with the energy of the Jersey Devil legend and sets out to save his mother from evil.

Greg:  Is the character a lead like in 'Desecration' and Horror?

Danny: Yes.    

Greg: Is the character similar like in the two films I mentioned?  

Danny: You will find many hints on how all my characters from Dante's films are connected. In 'Satan's Playground' my character's name is Sean...the same name of my lost friend from 'Desecration'. Also, my wardrobe in the film is the exact same thing I wear in 'Desecration'. I don't want to give away to much...the pieces to the puzzle are in your hands.

Greg: How was this film different for you than in your previous work?

Danny: I was very much involved with the production of the 'Satan's Playground'. At one point my cousin was going to executive produce the film and I was going to co-produce. That fell through because of financial issues. I am very close with Dante. If I wasn't on set acting...I was helping the Art Department or Production team with anything that needed to be done. I think the producers gave me a production assistant credit. One night, I stood in as the production designer/art director. It was our last night shooting and crew members from the art team all had other production obligations. You'll see the scene...My cousin, Michael Ryan is strapped down in the woods and is surrounded by fire torches and is being whipped by a satanic cultist.

Greg: Did you ever see Ellen Sandweiss in 'Evil Dead' or Edwin Neal in 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre' before pre-production started for the flick?

Danny: Yes, those are both classic horror films.    

Greg: What was the experience like working with those actors?  

Danny: Very professional. They are both very talented beings. I got real close with Ellen on set. She's a lot of fun to work with. Back at the hotel we would try and get everyone to join our yoga class...haha.

Greg: Will you be cast in Tomaselli's next flick 'The Ocean' since you seem to be a favorite in his films?  

Danny: Yes, I will play Felissa's son who drowns in the beginning of the film. There's talk that I might come back to haunt people.

Greg:  What is next for you beforehand?  

Danny: I have submitted information for a few reality TV shows. One is being produced by E! and the other by Sean "P. Diddy" Combs. Both would document the story, dreams and realization of becoming an entertainment mogul.

Greg: You seem busy. Now here's some fun stuff. What are your favorite horror films?  

Danny: 'Halloween' and 'Friday the 13th' were the two I grew up with. Now, there are so many that I appreciate. 'The Shining'...is another list topper.

Greg: If you have a film you'd like to change what would that film be?

Danny: 'Nikos'! I really don't enjoy being attached to that film.    

Greg: What is the film you acted in that you cherish the most?

Danny: 'Desecration'. It holds a special place within me...It was my first film. This will always be the film that began my career.

Greg: If you were just a top scream king for a day whether this actor was alive or dead who would he be?

Danny: Jack Nicholson...when he has that axe and breaks through the bathroom door...WOW!

Greg: What is your idea of perfect happiness?  

Danny: A successful career in the industry and the right people around me.

Greg: What are your ambitions?  

Danny: I want to continue acting for the rest of my life and get more involved in production. Soon, own my a record label and production company. Dante is currently working on a surreal dance album called Sex, Death and the Supernatural. I am trying to lock funds for the project at this time. In the near future, I would love to be producing many projects. Some for television and of course many for film. One being Dante's next film, 'The Ocean'.