Over the weekend I had the opportunity to talk with Jen & Sylvia Soska of Twisted Twins Productions about their indie debut Dead Hooker In A Trunk, their love for horror, and what's in store for the future.
First off I gotta say I loved Dead Hooker In The Trunk. It was like a orgy of violence, and gore that left my eyes satisfied. I love the part when you slap your sister,and she lays you out. I noticed in that scene that you got a little scared after. (Which for those reading check the trailer at www.deadhookerinatrunk.com)
J: ha ha, thank you! Sylv is very scary.
Was that true to life growing up. Who was the scrappy one?
S: I was definitely not the scrappy one. Jen would beat the living Jesus out of me. I actually once pulled her off of a friend, but in hindsight, that chick sort of deserved a Jen ass-beating. After we started doing martial arts, we didn't fight like that anymore. When you learn about fighting, you learn a lot about not fighting too. That said, I got grabbed in an underground tunnel in Cannes and I hit the guy and threw him off of me, so it really does come in handy.
J: Yeah, I don't know what happened to me. I used to be lightning in a bottle. Now I talk stuff out. I need to go back to my old self, ha ha. Sylv these days is like the Punisher. With less mercy.
So tell me what made you two decide that you wanted to make movies?
S: We always loved films since we were little girls. Especially, horror films. I think because there was this taboo about little girls enjoying horror that we were even more drawn to it. The first horror movie that we watched was POLTERGEIST. Our mom watched it with us and we made it through without being too scared shitless, then at bedtime, it was just too scary for my brain. My mom did something that would forever change the way that I look at horror movies, she told me that everything that I saw from the people on screen, to what they were wearing, what was said, and all the monsters and gore was the collaborative effort of talented artists with the intention of scaring the audience. That blew my mind that you could scare people for a living. That you can make monsters as a job. I was hopelessly hooked after that.
J: I didn't know it was an option when we were itty bitty. Little girls are encouraged to be actresses or models or singers, people rarely tell them they can be writers or producers or directors. We acted when we were little and I have a lot of respect for actors. You spend so much time chasing after roles that you usually couldn't care less about just to make it to the level where you can begin to pick and choose a bit of what you do and what you don't do. There's so much rejection and even though it's not personal, it always feels like it is. I hated all that. Besides, like Batman, I'm a bit of a control freak. I love telling stories. Directing was always what I was heading towards, even if I didn't know it at the time. We have this weird set of skills that never seemed to fit together. Until we found directing.
With a name like Dead Hooker In A Trunk you almost can tell you are going to get that I need a shower feeling. What was the first movie that made you wish Calgon would take you away?
S: Probably CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST. I was on a scar me, don't scare me kick and that imagery got pretty burnt into my brain. I can never look at a turtle the same way again. I really can't stand actual animal cruelty in films. MEN BEHIND THE SUN, too, really dark shit. HOOKER is MARY POPPINS in comparison.
J: MEN BEHIND THE SUN. Killing and torturing animals for a film to get that shock factor is the sign of a filmmaker who doesn't have the talent, intelligence, or ability to make an audience react. It's pathetic.
Moving on to your next feature American Mary...Did you feel like seasoned vets this time around?
S: There is just so much to filmmaking that by the time you think you've learned something, you realize that there is so much more to still learn. We had a incredible team and fucking phenomenal professionals heading up all the departments, so it was very weird to not show up, set dec the location, figure out wardrobe, grab crafty, set up the lights, shoot this insert, etc. We had the best in the business so I felt like we had an indie horror army that could take on anything.
J: Definitely not. Every project is so different. I'm always trying to learn and grow as an artist. The version of DHIAT that I'd make today would be very different from the DHIAT we made back then. We're always changing and that means we'd always do something differently given the chance. Rodriguez says that you can work on a project forever, but at one point you just have to let go and walk away because if you keep fussing with it you're going to end up ruining it. I know more now than I did then and I learned a lot from making AMERICAN MARY.
If you were in a slasher what 5 things would you bring?
S: First thing would be Jen - that chick is like a mix between Egon and Catwoman. Second thing, a great outfit that would look great splattered in blood. Third thing, would be Michael Rooker with all his guns because he could kill a lot and be endlessly entertaining. Fourth thing, a cell phone that worked just cause those things go to hell in slashers like nobodies business. And last thing, is a pair of hooked swords, just so I can feel all safe and secure and slashy myself.
J: My doppelganger (see the above Punisher comment). She's a bag full of badass and crazy. If she's ever out on her own, especially at night, people ask if I worry. I do. About anyone who'd fuck with her. Second, a gun. A big fucking gun with lots of ammo and a silencer attached. Cuz that would be the end of the movie right there. Oh, scary guy in a "scream" mask? Cool. Eat bullet, bitch. Third, I'd bring Michael Fassbender. Just because I can. Don't judge me. It's my list. Fourth, I'd bring a kevlar catsuit because no one is shooting or stabbing me, thank you very much. And fifth, I'd bring Danny Elfman and his orchestra to soundtrack my adventure.
If you were in a Jigsaw scenario, and had to make out with a scream queen.... Who would it be?
S: Taylor Momsen. Does Taylor Momsen count? Dammit. Um, I'm going to pretend BLACK SWAN makes Natalie Portman a Scream Queen and say her, for sure. That said, I'm a sucker for brunettes with blue eyes. It's my kryptonite.
J: That's tough. Probably Sigourney Weaver's Ellen Ripley. I rarely have the opportunity to make out with someone I respect so much.
Getting to your horror roots... How do you feel about the current state of horror with all the remakes being released?
S: It's extremely depressing. Technology has gotten to a point where films that had great concepts can be remade with the new VFX, but I very strongly believe that that isn't a reason to do a remake or prequel or whatever lame hack job justification to rape a previously good film. A lot of it is about the money and not making a good film - for some reason having a good film doesn't mean as much as getting money to big studios. For example, they wanted to make a sequel to AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON without werewolves. Why? Because they knew the draw the title would bring and what the opening weekend numbers would be, so by the time everyone found out that the movie was a big piece of shit, it has already made a shit ton of money. The only way these shitty flicks will stop being made is if people stop going to see them. Which I hope is really fucking soon. Our generation deserves original thought.
J: It's lame. I can almost understand telling new stories for an iconic character (we have an EPIC Addams Family script) to keep them alive, but to remake THE THING? It just happened and the original is SO much better than the remake. If fact, the effects created by ADI for THE THING remake were actually fucking awesome, but some "execs" thought that the Thing should move fast because it was "scarier". All they would have had to do was take a quick poll from the people who loved the original and see we LOVED the slow, twitching, convulsing Thing. And CGI looks like shit. Same with the FRIGHT NIGHT remake and the same with DARK SHADOWS now. What really bothers me is that these films get huge budgets while some truly incredible independents with very cool, very original, refreshing films get the shaft. It makes no sense. But we can stop it. Don't go see remakes. If people stop seeing them that'll be that.
Since you're fans like all of us. What was your greatest inner geek moment?
S: I've been having a lot of those lately. Like getting to meet really cool people who I would die to even look at, let alone speak to. I met John Landis. He's really fucking cool. A trailer for DEAD HOOKER actually plays on the DVD for BURKE AND HARE, his new film also out by IFC, so I felt like a boss that our flick was on the same disc as one of his. He laughed at the title and was very cool. BLUES BROTHERS had a big impact on what we found funny growing up, so DEAD HOOKER is sort of his fault.
J: Wow. I'm actually quite blessed. There have been so many. Probably the one that stands out the most right now was meeting and having dinner with Dick Smith while he showed us his Do-It-Yourself Monster Make-up Handbook. It was the thrill of a life time and truly an honor to meet the man responsible for so much of what we see on the screen. He is a living legend and so kind a man.
Whats in store for us from Twisted Twin Productions?
S: We will continue to kill people and film it. Ha ha. AMERICAN MARY is going to hit the film festival circuit and, we're hoping for a release at the end of the year. I'm really stoked to see what people think about it. It's a very different and unique film, but also extremely personal. I feel like if you watch the film you'll know everything about Jen and me, which is a very naked feeling. We have a few projects that we are excited to get on their feet. BOB is the film we are looking forward to doing next - it's probably the funniest, disgusting film we have ever written. We've also been very privileged with other films that we might be directing, some that I am a very big fan of and would be honoured to help bring to the big screen. Also, we're going to San Diego Comic Con this year - so if you're coming out, come by and say hi!
J: ha ha, yeah, what she said. We're not sure which film will be next as there's been a lot of talk of whether we'll do one of our films next or direct someone else's. It's really exciting. One thing's for sure. We will not be taking a break anytime soon. We're just getting started..