‘Stealing Chaplain’ – Las Vegas Indie Headed for the Big Screen

Locally-produced comedy benefits from sHortage of Hollywood theatrical releases…


“Keep digging. Otherwise the next grave we’re digging is our own”. So says ‘Cal’, a con man desperate to stay alive while embroiled in a daring Las Vegas scam. That’s the premise of STEALING CHAPLAIN, a brand-new comedy filmed on location in Sin City.

STEALING CHAPLAIN is an independent production that’s about to hit big screens across the country. It’s being released at a time when theater chains are starving for new titles. For local producer Ken Bressers of Dystopian Films, this came as a stroke of luck, one that he swiftly pounced upon.

After the relative failure of director Christopher Nolan’s expensive (and downright awful, IMHO) TENET on U.S. screens, tentpole features like Pixar’s SOUL, Disney’s MULAN remake, WONDER WOMAN 84 and the latest James Bond film have either been postponed or diverted to streaming services. As a result, chains like AMC, Cinemark and Regal have relied on running retro classic titles…or have shut down altogether.

“Knowing we’ve got a quality movie ready to deliver and that theaters are drying up, we approached several theater chains directly, and they loved the idea” said Bressers. “Beginning November 13, we will be opening in over a hundred movie theaters across six major chains, and we’re still in talks with several others.” Stealing Chaplain is currently in theatrical release in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Stealing Chaplin is a comic caper focused on two British con men who dig up and ransom the corpse of legendary comic actor Charlie Chaplin. It’s inspired by the true story of a pair of crooks actually exhuming and stealing the body of the silent comedy star. Ken oversaw a production also starring The Sopranos star Al Sapienza and The Patriot actor Peter Woodward.

Eagle-eyed viewers will recognize a number of local performers who are featured in Stealing Chaplain. It even includes a cameo appearance from “Mr. Las Vegas” himself, Wayne Newton. Dani Elizabeth, fiance of comedic magician Murray SawChuck, is the popular emcee of CRAZY GIRLS at Planet Hollywood. Handsome Brent Barret of PHANTOM – The Las Vegas Spectacular (and former entertainment director for THE VEGAS ROOM) is on hand, as is sultry Cheryl Prater, a frequent host and guest at ROCKING COMEDY SHOW with Jay Bird

  Cheryl Prater has been in numerous Vegas-centric films and TV series

It was at a Halloween day private screening of the 1984 classic Nightmare on Elm Street (hosted by Jay) that Cheryl Prater first told me the STEALING CHAPLAIN news. She was undoubtedly excited by the chance to reach a large-scale audience in her latest role. In a year filled with endless bad news, this was a solid reason for cast, crew and friends to celebrate.

Bressers echoed those sentiments: “If Charlie Chaplin taught us anything; it was that laughing in times of difficulty sometimes is the best medicine. In light of everything going on in the world at the moment, we are very pleased to be partnering with Cinemark Theatres, Marcus Theatres, Malco, Starlights, and more to deliver Stealing Chaplin to an audience in need of an escape!”

Escaping to movie theaters has long been a popular Las Vegas pastime. Fremont Street’s historic El Portal Theater, built in the 1920s, was the city’s very first air-conditioned structure. Casinos throughout the valley have multi-screen theaters under their roofs, and the West Wind 6 Drive-in is filled with hundreds of cars every evening.

Several local movie producers and directors have turned Las Vegas into their own private Hollywood. Directors Joe Lujan and brothers Sonny and Michael Mahal use local talent and locations for outrageous cult horror films like Art of the Dead, Bus Party to Hell and the Immortal Wars franchise. Along with Sharknado actress Tara Reid, their films feature handsome future stars like Mark Justice, Ben Stobber, and burlesque performer Ronnie Nanos.

Even Gregory Popovich of David Saxe‘s POPOVICH COMEDY PET THEATER got bit by the movie-making bug. His endearing “Popovich and the Voice of the Fabled American West” had an exclusive run at Brenden Theaters at The Palms Casino Hotel. So, it’s no surprise that Stealing Chaplain benefits from the talent of many Las Vegas entertainers.

With all of the new precautions that have been standardized to make your movie-going experience safe and enjoyable, there’s no better time to head out and experience a new film. Enjoy this trailer for STEALING CHAPLAIN and see it on theater screens beginning November 13th. Visit the official Facebook page for more information and showtimes. 

‘Scare at Town Square’ is Halloween Fun With A Twist


Two-level seasonal attraction remembers that adults love Halloween, too…

It’s Halloween, everyone’s entitled to one good scare.” – Sheriff Leigh Bracket, John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN (1978)

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We’ve made it to the first week of October, when awesome Halloween attractions pop up all over the city. From Mandalay Bay‘s Hallow Reef and Freakling Brothers to HallOVeen at Opportunity Village, there are fun events for every family member. Adults get their share, too, by way of Fetish and Fantasy Ball at Hard Rock Hotel and various costume-contest nights at Strip nightclubs.

Alas, there is very little, if anything, that brings both of these things together into one place…until now. Scare at Town Square is an innovative and elaborate two-story concept at Town Square near McCarran Airport that’s a ground-level all-ages thriller and full-on nightclub madness on level two. Something tells me that this is where you’ll find me several times the season….because, you know, it’s freaking HALLOWEEN!

Scare at Town Square follows a tried-and-true tradition of seasonal pop-ups like Spirit Halloween and Halloween City. Utilizing empty retail spots, they breathe new life into venues that have been ghoulishly abandoned, dusting away most of the cobwebs but perhaps leaving a few spiders intentionally around…

In the case of SCARE, we’re talking about moving into the massive former NECHE Restaurant/Ultra Lounge which has been transformed into “Stage Fright” live entertainment zone, “Zoe Escape Room” and an array of “Selfie Sets.” Drink service and amazing signature cocktails are provided by Born and Raised, the official bar of the Golden Knights.

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The main level, once home to Killer Shrimp, is where you’ll find a free family-friendly pumpkin patch, Haunted Maze, Phobia Rooms and a hidden speakeasy. The entire experience encompasses 15,000 square feet of chills, thrills and fun. Yes, this is a pretty big undertaking. And it’s all done on a Hollywood-sized scale with amazing effects, costumes, actors and props. From alien autopsies to a room filled with towering clowns and a 12-foot walking jack-o-lantern, your mind will surely be blown.

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                               Mark Trevino, Bonnie Pascua and John Good (l to r)…

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                       Andrea Dupper (Sales and Marketing) and a sinister Joker…

The concept of Scare at Town Square comes from the creative geniuses at Experience Productions, a local production/management/marketing firm. John Good, Bonnie Pascua and Mark Trevino are behind a wide variety of interactive experiences, production shows, exhibitions and festivals. They’ve brought in my super-ambitious colleague (and animal-rescue activist) Andrea Dupper, who heads up SCARE‘s marketing and sales. Together they’ve delivered what should be the surprise hit of the season.

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                                Fantasy film director Joe Lujan faces his clown phobia…

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                     Heartthrob Mark Justice and “Cole” of Heartbreak Hotel in Concert…

Andrea game me a personal tour this week during a sneak peek that was attending by a wide variety of celebrities, actors, horror/fantasy film director Joe Lujan (the Immortal Wars series). Lujan was accompanied by cast members including mega-hunk model/action star Mark Justice and lovely actress/talk show host Corey Taylor.

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                                                  Myself with Ricardo Laguna…

Heartbreak Hotel in Concert’s Cole accompanied his daughter to the festivities and joined Justice for a selfie in front of the giant Jack-O-Lantern. BMX pro, philanthropist, model and all-around good guy Ricardo Laguna came by to check out the thrills. Rumor has it that Jason Egan of Saw Escape Room and the legendary Fright Dome at Circus Circus made an appearance as well.

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       John Di Domenico, Andrea, Michele Rothstein, Ricardo Laguna and Amber Ramsay

No opening would be complete without an appearance by two of the brightest smiles in the city. Award-winning Trump impersonator John Di Domenico enjoyed some fun photo ops with companion Michele Rothstein, whose Balloons With A Twist can be seen at the biggest and most spectacular events in Las Vegas. They and others enjoyed sleight-of-hand by funnyman magician Michael Mayfield.

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                             Brittni makes the best “Witches Brew” in the city…

Throughout SCARE‘s 40 days and nights of…er….scares, there should be plenty of opportunities to see celebrities. Fridays will play host to “FANTASY FRIDAYS”, at 21+ costume party beginning at 10pm. It’s one of various add-on experiences you can enjoy. Rates vary based on weekday/weekend and escape room adventures require advanced reservation.

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The attraction runs through November 10th. You can get all the details including hours and pricing by visiting ScareVegas.com. Die-hard Halloween enthusiasts will appreciate the VIP unlimited passes which deliver the entire season’s excitement for only $125.00. Buy online and save 20% by using code “1ST2SCARE”.

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            Nobody does Halloween like the folks of Las Vegas…even after they’ve passed…

Photos: Sam Novak, Mark Justice, Ira Kuzma, John Good, Andrea Dupper, Michele Rothstein, Ricardo Laguna, Scare at Town Square