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‘Therapeutic’ role: Las Cruces actor battles heartbreak by playing nomadic killer in slasher film ‘The Dead of Night’

Jack Lutz, left, as the Coyote Killer in “The Dead of Night.” (Courtesy of Buffalo 8 Productions)

Hard work and lots of patience eventually pays off.

In Jack Lutz’s case, the Las Cruces-based actor had long wanted be in a film with Lance Henriksen, who is best known for his role as Bishop in the “Alien” franchise.

His wish came true with a role in the New Mexico filmed, “The Dead of Night.”

Henriksen plays Earl, while Lutz plays the Coyote Killer.

“A few years ago, I posted a picture of Lance Henriksen about a dream I had,” Lutz says. “We were in a movie together and I played his son. He was very fatherly to me and gave me some good advice on the film. Putting it out there manifested it. It can happen for anybody.”

“The Dead of Night” was recently selected to be part of the Cannes Film Festival.

The festival went online after the pandemic canceled the traditional in-person event.

“The Dead of Night” was filmed in New Mexico and tells the story of Tommy and June, played by Jake Etheridge and Colby Crain. The siblings are alone and isolated at the family ranch and find themselves being terrorized and hunted by a pair of nomadic killers.

Lutz plays the Coyote Killer.

Filming took place in Capitan and Albuquerque, and Lutz was on set for about a month.

The happy-go-lucky actor, who is also a radio DJ on 101 Gold in Las Cruces, had to take a devious turn for the role.

He was also dealing with some personal issues.

“I was going through some heartbreak, and I was dealing with my mother having a stroke. I was very angry and very bitter towards things that I couldn’t change or understand. Couple that with the loss of someone near and dear to me,” he says. “Getting this role became therapeutic. As soon as the camera stopped, and all was said and done, I left him up there in the mountains of Capitan.”

Jack Lutz

Lutz has also been a lifelong fan of slasher horror films, such as “The Prowler” and “My Bloody Valentine.”

“Masked killers were always intriguing to me,” he says. “When this opportunity came up, I was invited to see the script by Robert Dean. He asked me which killer I wanted to be. I read very intensely both characters. There was something about the Coyote Killer that struck a nerve with me. He does horrific things, and it was what I needed to break out of myself.”

Lutz spent months preparing mentally and physically for the role.

For one, it was such a departure mentally from anything Lutz knows.

“The biggest obstacle was putting on the weight and muscle,” he says. “I was about 210, and when filming started, I was about 230. I wanted the character to look believable, like he could toss people around. I lifted (weights) every day.”

Lutz is hoping people enjoy the film as it makes its rounds at festivals, which have moved to online formats. He enjoyed working with writer-director Robert Dean, who was born in Capitan.

“Robert Dean managed to write a love letter about his hometown,” he says. “I’m hoping this is viewed as an old-school horror film. This film is a lot like a roller coaster. You’re in for a ride.”


SEND ME YOUR TIPS: If you know of a movie filming in the state, or are curious about one, email Follow me on Twitter @agomezART.

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