Quantcast Joe Lynch interview - Director of WRONG TURN 2: DEAD END

Joe Lynch!!!

Very few filmmakers display such an open affection for the horror genre as director JOE LYNCH. All it takes is one conversation with the guy to realize how seriously he loves our beloved genre. It also becomes quite obvious that he's a walking encyclopedia of horror knowledge. He just completed directing his first full length feature WRONG TURN 2 (now available on DVD) with Henry Rollins and Erica Leerhsen. We got to chat with him extensively about his entire career thus far. Read on, fiends! This interview's an instant Icons classic! - by Robg. & Mike C. 10/07

Robg.: What are your earliest recollections of the horror genre? What do you remember being your first introductions into the world of horror?

I remember bits of my mom taking me to see DAWN OF THE DEAD. She told me we went to see that one and I think that’s awesome. I remember flashes of really bad Tom Savini make-up or entrails or something. So there’s those flashes and obviously seeing things like STAR WARS. I don’t know where my mom’s thinking came from (or her babysitting skills) but she would always bring home horror films for us to see. I know she was such a big fan of them and she would always talk about them to us. She’d go to the library and rent them for free and bring home stuff like RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD or DAWN OF THE DEAD or THE TOM SAVINI SCREAM GREATS. She would always buffer that SCREAM GREATS video with the other horror films, and she would always buy us FANGORIA to allow us to see that it was all fake and that we could enjoy it on that level. Honestly, that’s where I first became interested in making movies, because I wanted to be a special FX make-up artist. I’d think “Wow, look at all these magicians doing all these crazy things” with make-up, and camera tricks and sleight of hand. Seeing BLOOD BEACH and all the EMPIRE movies. All the NEW WORLD stuff. All the CANNON stuff. My mom would bring that stuff home in droves and we’d ingest them greedily. I basically grew up with horror in my blood from the beginning.

Robg.: Well, you had an awesome mom growing up, because we had to sneak around our parents backs to rent the movies we’d rent!

That was what was so cool about the “mom and pop” shops back in the day, was that really, they didn’t give a shit. We used to go to this video store in Port Jeff Station called 2020 Video and they would not care. They were excited when I came in because the people behind the counter were also horror fans. So, I’d come in and be like “So, what’d you think of DEADLY FRIEND?” and they’d say, “Aw, that movie sucks. BUT if you hate that old bitch from THROW MAMMA FROM THE TRAIN and you want to see her take a basketball to the head, then that’s the movie you want to see!”
(Laughs) So for me, I’d pay attention to what affected the older kids, and then I would want it. I remember the day they were like, “I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE? Little dude? You can’t watch this… but ok, we’ll let you rent it.” (Laughs) They were just pounding me with these horrible things! I bet in retrospect they were probably thinking “Let’s try to fuck this kid up! Let’s warp him and turn him into a serial killer or something” like DEXTER. Their plan was thwarted because I obviously went a different direction. (Laughs)
Robg.: That’s so funny! I had this “mom and pop” video store up the corner from my block, and this punk rock dude with a Mohawk used to work there and he’d let me rent ANY thing. I remember renting HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER at like… 15!

Exactly! I remember the day that came out on MTI. There was a thing in FANGORIA that said it was coming out in October and I was like, I gotta go. (Laughs) I was there the day of. The lady behind the counter was like, “So, you want that HENRY movie, huh?” “Yes, I do!” She was totally cool about it! Every time I went in there, I thought I’d get busted. I was always waiting for them to say, “Waaaiiit a second. YOU don’t look 21!” (Laughs) They never said that though. They were just always very cool.
And also, I think they knew that I was seeing it on a level that wasn’t just to see fucked up shit. I was enjoying this stuff on a level a horror fan should. And it’s a very objective level. The kind of level that you can appreciate the sort of violence and gore and suspense and the shocking stuff from a distance and on an enjoyable level, because it’s safe danger. We all like to be threatened but we don’t like the repercussions of that, which is what horror’s so great at doing! Giving those threats, making you feel a little bit in danger and then realizing, “Oh it’s ok. It’s all over. We can turn off the TV now.” I think the people at the video store were getting a thrill by the fact that I was SO into the horror genre on more then just a base level.
Robg.: Horror opened the floodgates into how you got into films and filmmaking, but where did it all begin with you? Was it an interest in special FX make-up?

I knew I wanted to make movies when I got the issue of Joe Dante and (Gremlin) Spike on the cover of FANGORIA. I think it was Issue 27? I remember reading this article with Joe Dante in it and it’d go to Chris Walas and I was just enthralled with everything Chris Walas did. Because not only did he do (GREMLINS), but he did THE FLY.
I just thought he was awesome. It was between that issue of FANGORIA and the TOM SAVINI’S SCREAM GREATS, which was basically a documentary about Tom Savini’s work that I became so fascinated with it. I literally did that trick that he teaches in his book where you take a razor blade and you file it down, take ear wax, put it in your palm, fill it up with blood and if you hold it right, and race the razor across your arm and squeeze the blood, it really looks like you just whacked your wrist! I did that in front of my mom, and it freaked her out for the first two seconds, and then she’d say “Oh Joe, you’re crazy.” Make-up FX is where it started, I also since I was a little kid was always acting. Plays and little things around town. I got really close to being cast as young Ron Kovic in BORN ON THE FORTH OF JULY, I made it to the 4th round of auditions or something like that.
I just loved movies SO much that I just wanted to be enveloped in them in whatever capacity I could. If it was acting? Great. If it was special FX? Great. I always knew what directors did, but it wasn’t until I saw Frank Darabont and Chuck Russell’s THE BLOB remake from 1988, that I realized “Wow. A director does this and a director does that” and this is how he tells a story. Ever since I saw that film I became obsessed with what it takes to be a director. What does it take to tell a story visually with all these different components? You have acting, you have story, you have editing, you have camerawork, you have special effects, you have production design. How does all of that come together?
Before I went to film school and I was reading things like Robert Rodriguez’s do-it-yourself exploits, I just thought to myself it would be better if I knew how to do everything on set. Literally everything from getting the producer a coffee all the way up to calling the shots as a director or a producer. Every facet. Every unit. Every single aspect of the filmmaking process, I felt I needed to know. It also started with writing a lot. I’ve always been writing a lot ever since I first read Stephen King. So I’ve always been writing short stories. So, there was that component. When I was 10 or 11, I learned how to hook up 2 VCR’s together and I learned how to edit that way. So, I would take scenes from LETHAL WEAPON 2 or MAD MAX or HALLOWEEN 2 and I would re-cut, re-mix them with music. Just to learn what it was like to change things, using just manipulation of images. And then with shooting, I had one of those VCR shooting camera’s and I’d just experiment.
Our generation lived in an age where it was starting to become more feasible to do things at home. You didn’t have to work in the industry to be able to cut things together or shoot things or make make-up FX. It was all starting to come home slowly. NOW, you can make an entire feature at home with home-made stuff. Back then, you were just seeing what was available to you. So by the time I got to film school, I honestly was only going for the facilities. I lived and breathed film way before film school or high school. I was the film nerd in school that watched every single movie. So when I got to film school, I had already done a commercial that I shot & cut & did everything for my dad’s shop, because he’s an audio customizer.
I made a little music commercial that was on MTV right before I even got to school! So, I thought “All right, I’m going to film school to make my parents proud, that finally someone in our family went to school” but mostly it was for that film camera, and so I could get to use the flatbeds. It was for experience, because I knew what I wanted to make. I didn’t need some film theory class to tell me the finer points of existentialism. Fuck all that! It’s good to know all that, its great knowledge, but that’s not why I was there. I didn’t need to find a voice, I was already screaming at the top of my lungs and waiting for the opportunity.

Robg.: Obviously, you directed WRONG TURN 2, you first full length feature film, but before that, you have a long history with music videos and short films. How difficult was it after school to go through that process of breaking in as a director?

I got to admit, I was extremely lucky when I got out of film school. A good friend of mine Yaniv Sharon, we were partners in crime in school.

Mike C. (Whispers) TERROR FIRMER!

He’s a guy that loves that kind of crazy, schlocky horror movie stuff. Not just the serious stuff, but when I say TOXIC AVENGER and he says, “What’s that?” You just want to open his whole world up to the world of Troma. So, my entire senior year was educating Yaniv on Troma. So, when we got out of school, I got a call from him saying, “Dude… I got a job at Troma. Do you want to jump onto this movie with me?” I had been a Troma fan ever since I saw the first TOXIC AVENGER film in 1986 and I always had the biggest respect for Lloyd (Kaufman) because good, bad or ugly, he made a movie and millions of people saw it. So that to me, I admire the shit out of that guy.
So, I thought what could be a better summer camp then to go and make a film under the offices of Troma. At the time, after then and even now, they’re the purveyors of true independent film. They’re making it, they don’t care what you think. They’re not catering to a demographic, they’re just making what they want. Thinking what they know that the fans want and putting it out there. At the time, they were making TERROR FIRMER, which I thought was the most brilliant movie idea ever. It’s a Troma movie about making a Troma movie? I’m in! So, I went to work on that. And it went from me being a grip, to being an actor on that, to being a co-writer on it, by the 3rd week I was a background director, and then at the end Lloyd said “I’d love to hire you as one of our writers.” From there it just kind of snowballed and I worked at Troma for a year. While I was in New York, I made more music videos. I worked on Uranium on FUSE. And then coming out here (to LA) to do a bunch of stuff. Honestly, the thing that I think people responded to, and what anyone would respond to with anyone in this position is the amount of passion you put forth.
It didn’t matter what job I was on on any given shoot or any given gig. If you show you’re excited about being there and you WANT to do it, not just as a “paying the bills” kind of gig, or “getting your foot in the door” but doing it in a sort of lackadaisical kind of way, no one’s going to care. But if you’re showing that “Hey, I’m a PA on this thing? I’m going to give it my absolute all.” Without looking like a total brown-noser because no one likes those dudes. It was a very storied affair to go from film school to here, but I just counted every single opportunity as a step up, no matter what it was. If the music video cost me $200 bucks?
The fact that it got on Headbangers Ball, to me was a step up. Or working as a shooter on G4 when I came out here, the opportunities that I had and the people that I met from that job? All a step up. If you have a goal, which to me was to make a feature, and you push through and focus on it, and show everyone how much passion you have about it, eventually someone’s going to notice. With me and WRONG TURN 2, I think part of the reason I got it is because FOX saw a music video I did for STRAPPING YOUNG LAD which was my love letter to THE EVIL DEAD. I put the band in the house from EVIL DEAD.
Robg.: Wow, YOU did that video? I didn’t even realize.

They saw that and thought “Oh, he must know about horror.” But the other half was me being in the room and telling them “I really want to tell this story.” I love the horror genre and this to me would be a dream come true. That’s not to say I’ll never have this opportunity again, I hope I still do, BUT it was that kind of passion and showing them that I know and can do everything on a set that convinced them I might know what I’m doing.

Strapping Young Lad video for "LOVE" directed by Joe Lynch

Robg.: Was it intimidating for you to go in for WRONG TURN 2 considering it was a sequel to another successful film? Didn’t you pitch your version of the opening scene?

Oh yeah! Look, when I got offered the film, well it wasn’t an offer, it was “would you read the script and can they put you on a list” and from what I’d heard, the list was pretty fucking long and I was at the very bottom of it. So, yeah it was totally intimidating. It was my first studio meeting too. Since then, I’ve done a bunch of them and I actually really enjoy them, because I get to meet new people and talk movies and geek out, but this was my first meeting, and not only that but it was my first meeting… at fucking Nakatomi Plaza! (Laughs) So, I’ve got a cine-boner walking in thinking “Yippie Ki-Yay, Motherfucker!” And yet, I still had to do a job and be passionate about it.
When I read the script, I thought ok, it’s not the best script in the world but there’s a blue print there for some really great shit to happen, and I can have a lot of fun with this, if they let me do it. Not only that, if they let me do it the way I want to do it. I went in saying exactly that, but I went in extremely prepared. Because I had nothing to lose! I knew I was at the bottom of the list. I knew there were guys above me that were probably way more qualified and probably had way more experience under their belt, but I don’t think anyone really had the kind of passion I knew I was going in with. So, I knew that I had to make a good impression.
For that opening scene, my friend Luke who got me the job said we got to go in there and wow them. So, I said “What if we storyboarded the entire first scene, but let me do the kill the way I want to do it.” Because in the script it just cut to black right before she gets killed and just goes to the title. It’s such an old gem to do that. I remember reading the script and thinking “Are you fucking kidding me? You can’t do that!” You have to show something.

I thought “Well, what do I want to see?” So, that’s what we boarded. I went in, sweating my ass off and freaking out. I had a 12 page bible with everything about the film from the look to the editing to the cast to how I wanted the deaths to be, down to the rust on the trucks. To be able to go in there and show them the definitive vision that I had for it I think threw them a little bit, because they weren’t expecting anyone to come in with any kind of interest or passion at all maybe, but here it is. I open up this huge billboard and it has every shot in the opening scene. It was intimidating, but I knew I was prepared. At that point, when I walked out, I knew I did the best I could. It’s really up to red-tape bullshit or politics that would prevent me from getting this job.

Robg.: Once you got hired, you went through the script and put you own personal touch on things, right? I felt like every kill came from you. Each death sequence was memorable and seemed to have your stamp on it.

Yeah, I’m not going to poo-poo Al (Septien) and Turi’s (Meyer) work because like I’ve said before, they gave me an amazingly positive blue print where I could go off and say, Ok, this death. Seen it before. Let’s try something different, something creative. The order that the people got killed in, I thought why not make further changes here so we can thwart people’s expectations. They gave me a lot of leeway with the deaths, they gave me a little less leeway on the dialogue.

There were certain things I fought my ass off on changing, but you have to pick your battles with that sort of situation. In an independent film? You have a lot more creative say. In a studio film, where you have to get ok’s on everything and from multiple people, it’s a lot harder to push things through, so a lot of times, a lot of the little things I tried to do, I actually had to do on set because it’s easier to just kind of do it on the day and say there it is. Like the “shit ghost” joke. That was never in the script. But I knew I wanted to do it.

So, on the script I’d throw out lines, and I’d tell Steve Braun “Shit Ghost!” And he’s like “What?” It’d take a second to process and then he’s say, “Oh, that’s good!” What was great that the FOX executive was on set that day and even he goes, “Oh, that’s good.” So, it was hard for me in certain respects because there were a lot of things I wasn’t allowed to change, and at the same token they trusted me enough, especially with the deaths and the visual style of it, where they just allowed me to go for it, as long as I brought it in on budget. That was my biggest thing. It had to be in on time and on budget.
I would call them up and say, “What do you think about tying up the vegan with razor wire and feeding her entrails?” And then there’d be this long pause on the phone. Finally, “Can you do it on budget?” (Laughs) That would be it! They’d process it for a minute and then ask if I could do it with the money we had. And we would always do it. I don’t think we ever went over-budget do to anything like that.

The only thing we went over-budget on was because we went overtime on one day, but it was nothing we could control because it rained every day on that set. There’s certain things you can control and there’s certain things you can’t control. I think FOX gave me a lot of leeway and I’m very thankful for that.

Mike C.: Working with the freedom of knowing you were going to have an unrated DVD. Without it just being the “unrated” scenes to plug in at the end. Was it liberating working with that kind of freedom?

It was and it wasn’t. I didn’t want to go so overboard that it would turn into a total comedy. I didn’t want MEET THE APPLEGATES or…

Mike C.: Did you just say MEET THE APPLEGATES?! You’ve seen that as well? I love that movie. (Laughs)

(Laughs) Oh me too. I just watched HUDSON HAWK the other day. (Both by director Michael Lehmann) and I went “I wonder if Michael Lehmann knew what the fuck he was getting into even with MEET THE APPLEGATES?” After HEATHERS, you must be like, “Let’s change the world! What are ya doing next?” “A movie about a family that turns into bugs.” “All right! I guess!” (Laughs) That kind of freedom was extremely liberating because I knew at the very least, it would have a home. For DVD’s and most media today, content is king. So, as long as we could put it on camera and put it on film, I knew that it had a home somewhere. I knew that at the very, very least, it would be presented as a deleted scene, or on an unrated cut. Knowing that, it was just a matter of making those phone calls to see if I could do it on budget. At the very least, I know that the gore hounds will be very happy with it.

Robg.: The whole “reality-television” angle to the film, did you see that as a welcome challenge, incorporating that style to the film?

Oh, I love playing with different video and audio medias. I love crossing platforms, as opposed to crossing streams or crossing swords. (Laughs) I love all that stuff, if you’ve seen any of my music videos, I love playing with the form of breaking the fourth wall or using video in different ways. When I read the script, I know some people don’t like the idea of doing a reality show, but to me I thought it was a major advantage because I got to use all of the typical stereotypes that reality shows use and employ them into a horror film.
It’s an old gem to use a reality show in a horror film now. There’s MY LITTLE EYE, HALLOWEEN: RESURRECTION. There’s a ton of them. But I also thought here’s a great way to get the broad generalization that all these horror films have when you have an ensemble cast. The black guy. The bitch. The skater-stoner dude. The annoying guy. Everyone has an archetype, it doesn’t matter what kind of horror film you’re watching, every character falls into one type of archetype or another.
Here it is, by page 7 the audience knows everyone and every archetype. So, that allowed me to go “Ok, good. I got all that bullshit out of the way.” I can actually spend some time in the first act on some backstory and some characterization, and I worked with the writers on that. I at least wanted you to follow these characters and fall in love with them just a little bit, or in Jonesy’s case tolerate him a little bit by the end.
That was so important to me, because if you don’t have characterization at all, then you just have body bags waiting to be opened and just let the blood spill out. So, being able to do that was incredibly invigorating to get all that shit out there. Wait, what was the question again? I’m sorry. (Laughs)

Mike C.: No you answered it, pretty much. But what does a wet Henry Rollins smell like?

He smells like power! (Laughs) And gruff sweaty balls!

Robg.: Let’s talk about Henry Rollins because he’s so freakin’ great in this movie. One of the things you point out on the DVD commentary is that he comes into the movie with 4 pages of dialogue, rocks it, and then has nothing left to say for the rest of the movie. He just puts mud on his face and becomes Rambo!

Pretty much!

Robg.: Obviously you’re a big fan, but how good was it to have him on board for this?

He was my rock! Literally. He wasn’t on set everyday but every time that he was on set, the entire cast and crew had a great time. Not saying that we didn’t on other days, but it felt like “Special Guest, Henry’s here today!” And everyone just had their “A” game on. Just having him there was a total morale booster and just pushed everyone further, but working with him was a fucking dream.
Look, I know Henry from his music, so in working with him as an actor, I wasn’t expecting him to be as prepared as he was, and to bring in the amount of thought that went into his whole process. I’m usually throwing geeky references out with total abandon, so I don’t know if anyone’s going to get it or not. But when I told Henry things like “I want Dale to be Jeff Probst from SURVIVOR and then when shit hits the fan, I want him to be a cross between Rambo and Toshiro Mifune, the samurai.” And he’d go “Yojimbo, got it. Done.” He just instantly got why I said Mifune, because more then Stallone does in the first FIRST BLOOD, Mifune uses his eyes. His eyes are his acting. Henry really has to carry the rest of his performance based solely on his eyes and how he reacts in silence, and he totally got that.
If you ever read the book he put out, A DULL ROAR, he chronicles the entire production of WRONG TURN 2, or at least all the days he’s on set. And you can tell how much fun he’s having, aside from the fact that he had to deliver literally 4 pages of dialogue in one whole scene, he’s used to that though. I said to myself, who better to roll off this dialogue then someone we like and want to listen to, which is Henry. Anyone who’s ever listened to his spoken word or seen him live or watched his TV show, he’s got a very engaging voice. To me, on a very base level, I just thought it’d be great to hear these words coming out of Henry’s mouth. If the rest of the movie, he doesn’t do as well?
At least I know I’ve got them for this part. And really, that’s why I’ve always felt they’ve misused Henry in the past. It’s always been, OK, he’s good for a laugh or for people to say “Hey, that guy!” I wanted to get Henry and really push him into a character and really let him develop and make the character his own. Even he said this to me, it’s one of the proudest things he’s done, because he felt he really did great work on this.
It wasn’t just a job. He had fun doing it, he felt he did the marines proud, and that was one thing he was very, very adamant about. That the character was true to the marines. Ask any marine about SCENT OF A WOMAN and they’ll laugh in your face. He wanted to make sure it was very true to form so that the fans would like it, but also that the marines would like it too. And he had a great time! Everybody had a great time with him, and I would work with him again in a fucking heartbeat. He was just so great to work with. Always rolled with the punches, literally. Always just there and willing to do whatever I needed. I felt the same way, whatever he needed I was there for him as well.

Mike C.: Did you want Henry Rollins in this film or was it a studio decision? Who was responsible for him being in WRONG TURN 2?

Oh, the second I read the first 10 pages, I was in Tokyo and I wrote this on my original script that I printed out to read while I was there - I wrote “Henry Fucking Rollins”. But at the time, I thought he would never do this movie. I had thought, “Sure he did FEAST, but he wouldn’t want to do another one of these movies.” But I always felt it’d be great to see Henry do a kick ass movie again. I suggested it to FOX and they said they had to check his “star-meter” or whatever and see how attractive he is to investors.

Not that that makes a difference because it’s FOX, but all that stuff does get taken into consideration. So you put a list up, and I had Henry on my list. When I talked to my casting agents, I said “Look, I don’t know if he’d ever do this, but I need Henry Rollins or a Henry Rollins-type”.

And we had some amazing actors, some guys that I’m a huge fan of come in. But I always knew in the back of my head, I gotta at least hold out for Henry. And Henry came in, we sat down and talked, and I told him, “The one thing I don’t want is Henry Rollins in fatigues.” And I instantly felt the life of the room get sucked out because the producer and the executive were standing there thinking, “Oh no. You really fucked that up.” But I said, “Wait, let me finish!”
The reason why I went to go see THE CHASE was because Henry Rollins was playing a cop in it. And I thought that was great casting. 5 minutes after he was on screen, I forgot it was Henry Rollins. So I had faith in him. It took a little bit of convincing for the studio, but they saw it too. Obviously when we were on the set and they saw him do his big speech, everyone came up to me and said “We made the best choice in the world.” It took a little coercion but I knew I wanted Henry from the day I first read the script.
Mike C.: It’s funny that you mentioned THE CHASE because I was telling Robg. earlier that WRONG TURN 2 is Henry Rollins best film since THE CHASE.

Oh, well thank you very much! That means a lot to me, because I’m a big fan of THE CHASE! I like what Adam (Rifkin) did with that movie. It’s fun, it’s fucked up. Who doesn’t like a car chase with cadavers falling out of a truck? (Laughs) It’s brilliant! I’ve always liked Henry in it. What’s funny is my grandmother always watches that movie because it used to always be on HBO every other day. So, when I called her up and said, “Guess who we got? We got the guy from THE CHASE! The cop!” She was like “Oh my God, I love him!” (Laughs) She doesn’t know Henry Rollins from a hole in the wall, but she knows that dude from THE CHASE and she was thrilled. I’ll have to tell my grandmother at home what you just said, she’ll be thrilled to hear that quote. (Laughs)

Robg.: You started out having a big interest in special FX as a kid, and WRONG TURN 2 is heavy in practical FX. Who did that work on this film and what was it like to work with the FX crew to pull off a lot of these kills you had envisioned in your head?

Well, originally, I didn’t know the parameters of the budget or the schedule, so when I first went in after I got the gig, I was thinking “Holy fuck, I’m going to work with Stan Winston! This is going to be insane!” But they had never mentioned him in the past, because he was a producer on the first one so they never mentioned him, so I just thought “I wonder how involved he is?” So, I go in and ask “Is… Stan involved?” And they said “Unfortunately no.” That broke my heart for 30 seconds, but I figured I have friends at KNB and I’m really good friends with the guys that do the ALIEN movies, so I came to FOX and said, “Look, I have 2 of the biggest FX companies in the world who both said they would love to work on this film!”
And they said, “Well, because of tax breaks and everything, we have to do everything in Canada.” I thought OK. Instantly I thought Bill Terezakis. Because I had read about Bill in FANGORIA and on-line about all his work, especially on FREDDY VS JASON. When you think of New York filmmakers, instantly a name like Scorcese or Spike Lee will come up. For me, when someone says “Canadian Special FX artist”? Instantly I think of Bill Terezakis or Todd Masters, ya know? I wanted Bill from the get go. We went up there and tried a bunch of shops, but Bill and I just hit it off like gangbusters from the fucking first thing we said to each other. I think it was like, “Hey you!” and “Hey, fuck you!” and we just started saying “fuck you” to each other and thought OK, it’s a match made in heaven.
And everything that I would explain to him like the “snorri-cam” death, the ax in the head that was attached to the camera, that was a gag that was in my head for years, because I’ve always said to myself “God, I’ve seen that shot done so many times. Why doesn’t someone do something different with it?” Because really, horror is about expectations and diverting expectations. And I know that at the very least I wanted to try to take a convention, which in this case was a shot like this that you’ve seen in every movie from REQUIEM FOR A DREAM to SEE NO EVIL and do something where the audience wouldn’t expect it.
So that gag was incredibly important for me to get from the get-go. And when I explained it to Bill, he was just like, “That’s fucking cool!” He instantly got it, and he started jumping in and adding things to it and suggesting how we could do it. Or even the ax wound scene at the very beginning. I explained to him “I want these entrails to come flying out of her vagina!” He just ran with that. The rapport we had was just like two geeks who discovered each other reading FANGORIA in the lunch room. We both had an unbelievably mutual affection for the genre.
We both had total respect for each other and each other’s work. And we both pushed ourselves. Bill and I would have conversations for like 2 hours every Friday night just going over at first nothing, and then thinking “Aren’t we supposed to be going over work?” It ends up us just going over the things that make us sick. We would send each other emails with the most repugnant shit trying to find the right balance for the “Baby Splooge” character. The most absolutely God-awful images, and we were sending them with love. (Laughs) That was the kind of weird, fucked up relationship I had with Bill, and really he went all out for us, more then he even had to. He believed in the movie, he believed in us and I really think it’s some of his best work.

Robg.: I know the original script didn’t really tie much into the first movie, but how much did you want to incorporate elements from the first WRONG TURN? Or homage it to make this officially the sequel?

Well, to me a good sequel is one that can stand on its own, it can have its own voice, but at the same time it has to really satiate the fans need for a reason. There has to be a reason that we’re watching a sequel. For me, usually when there’s a 2 or a 3 attached to it, that leads me to believe that this is the next chapter.

I don’t want to see a total rehash. I don’t want to see a name only or a title only or a number only sequel. And really, when I read the first draft, there were barely any ties to the original film. In the draft I read, no offense to the guys, but they even mixed up the names for “Three-Finger” with “Saw-Tooth”. I was reading it thinking “Wasn’t ‘Three-Finger’ the one that lived at the end of the first one?”
There was an old man in the script, but it wasn’t supposed to be the one from the first film. I even asked, “Is this supposed to be the old man from the first film?” And they said, “No”. Well it should be! Because there’s no reason why it wouldn’t be. I wanted to make sure that there was at least some story and character ties, because I knew I was not going to be adhering to Rob Schmidt’s visual style with this.
He did the 70’s homage with WRONG TURN, I wanted to do an 80’s homage with WRONG TURN 2. I wanted to make sure that at least when fans watched this, weather they like it or not, they’re going to say this definitely feels tonally and stylistically different from the first film. Say like how ALIENS is to ALIEN, but as long as there are little things in there, like the old man from the gas station from the first one is here, and obviously “Three-Finger”. If you look closely, some of the clothing from the first film remerges on some of the characters in 2. Little things like that are only going to make people go, “Oh, I get it!”
I mentioned on stage with you, Rob, when I saw SAW 2 and they open the door towards the end and reveal it’s the room from the first one, I felt like… “Awesome! I get this, I see where they’re going with this.” And you smile! So, it was very, very important to me that there were ties to the original film, because I knew they were going to package the 2 together. Honestly, I want people to watch both of them back to back. So, by the time they get to the end of it, for example, when they realize in part 2 that the old man who was in the first film was really in on it the whole time, it’s going to completely change the way they watch the first film again. Basically, I gave you another viewing on it, because you get to go back and go, “Fuck me! That old man was in on it the whole time!”

Mike C.: That bastard!
I’m sorry, but that to me is a good sequel. Because then you can watch them together and feel like you’re part of a bigger story. And I really think there is more of a story to tell too. So, I’m hoping that if the movie does well and FOX goes ahead with a 3, that they’ll at least respect the first 2 films and make sure that there’s a tie so that someone could say it was all part of our grand scheme. The WRONG TURN trilogy! (Laughs)

Mike C.: I’d like to talk to you about Texas Battle who played Jake, because I was unkind to him when I reviewed FINAL DESTINATION 3, but I so enjoyed him in this movie.

Oh awesome!

Mike C.: What was it like working with him on this?

Robg.: You totally turned Mike around with him. Because he was the “token black guy” in FINAL DESTINATION 3 and then he turned out to be really good in your flick. Makes us wish we weren’t so hard on him in that last movie.

Oh, that’s awesome, believe me, he’ll be thrilled to hear that. The people who have seen the film so far, I’d always ask “So what’d you think of the characters before the shit hit the fan?” And at first they thought, “Oh, obviously, we plotted out when everyone was going to die and in what order.” It’s nice to hear now that A) they had no clue that people were going to die when they did and B) that the black guy lived! Holy shit, ya know? I mean, that comes down to Texas just being a charismatic motherfucker.
He’s just a charming as hell bastard. He honestly just came in and of all the guys that came in, he reminded me of a friend that I had back on Long Island that was just the nicest guy in the world. I can’t think of a thing that that guy has ever done or said that has ever hurt anybody, not a malicious bone in his body. And really I always wanted to see a character like that in this movie, where he’s actually good! He doesn’t have any ulterior motives. He doesn’t have any shady characteristics that make you go, “Oh well at least he should die because of that.” If he was going to die, it was because he was black and then that’s totally the only reason he would die is because of a movie convention.
There’s no other reason why Texas/Jake would die. He’s the good guy, he’s the hero, he doesn’t fall into the trap that M and Elena push him into. And frankly, he’s just a nice guy. And being the atypical nice guy who always finishes last in most cases, like myself, it’s nice to see the nice guy actually win for once!

Because usually in the last couple of years, the nice guy has been used as a device to kill, so they think they’re fucking with you. Like “Ohh, we killed the nice guy off!” I felt like why not have it where the nice guy is black, and the nice guy lives? How about that for a fucking concept! And Texas totally got that. Texas knew that he had to churn up the charm without it being smarmy, which is what I think hindered him a little in FINAL DESTINATION 3, was that he was playing that joke that was perpetuated in NOT ANOTHER TEEN MOVIE. Between him and Deon ( Richmond) in HATCHET, I think finally… some guys are actually getting it and not going with the stereotypes.

People are going, “Hold on. We can follow these characters and not expect when they’re going to die just because of their skin color or their archetype.” Texas is just a charming guy. All that charm really comes up. He’s got that megawatt smile that the ladies love! (Laughs) Can’t fault him for that.

Robg.: Oh the ladies love your smile too, pal! (Laughs)

Oh shut up.

Robg.: So, Joe, when everybody heard that FOX was going to do a sequel to WRONG TURN, horror fans at first didn’t seem all that interested or thrilled. But over the course of the past year, you’ve gone to horror conventions and shown clips, and I feel that your enthusiasm has just completely sold everyone in the horror community that this was in good hands. What’s it been like for you to go out there, meet fans and tell them, “Look! This doesn’t suck. I tried to make a good movie for you guys!”

Oh my God, it’s been… this year alone… I thought last year was an amazing year. Actually getting the movie, making the film all in a year, I thought that was amazing. But actually having the finished film and liking it, which is a big thing for me. Because I hate all my own work. You guys know, you are your own harshest critic sometimes, and if you’re not, you should be. The film was finished around December and to have this film done & under my belt that I could say I liked and was proud of, and then going to all the conventions, I mean I grew up going to these conventions. And I know what it’s like to see a filmmaker that is genuinely excited about their project, and then see filmmakers that are genuinely not excited, or who just don’t give a shit, or just there for the quick buck or whatever.
I’ve been to those, so have you. You know what it’s like when you go to a New York convention and hear Sam Raimi get up there and talk about DARKMAN and everyone flips out. Then you see Abel Ferrara get up there and talk about BODY SNATCHERS and you think, “Oh… really?” It was so amazing to go out and for once be on the other side of it with me not just being the fan, although I still was – at the front row of every panel, raising my hand, “Excuse me, Mister Tony Todd, I have a question!” (Laughs) That line is completely blurred to me.

People are like “Aren’t you supposed to be in the back with the guests?” Fuck that. Why? I’m here to hang out. It’s been amazing. I’m always afraid of over-hyping anything. I’ve been duped on hype too as we all have before. No one wants to hear something’s great and then put their faith in it and they just get thwarted. It’s like pulling a chick’s panties off and finding a dong there, most people are going to be pissed. (Laughs)

Mike C.: I guess we’re glad we can say you didn’t over-hype it, Joe and we really liked your movie. (Laughs)

Oh whatever! Shut up. Do you know what I’m saying? No one wants to over-hype something up and have it be hype only.

Robg. The thing I love – I know for a fact that me and you and Ryan Rotten, we were all 15-16 years old when we were going to the same FANGORIA shows in New York. We’d be waiting on the same lines to meet the same celebrities. And in this past year, between filmmakers like you and Adam Green getting up on stage, you’re the only 2 guys that reminded me of what it was like when I was a kid. Filmmakers that were very excited to share their movies!

I’ve seen Bruce Campbell get up there and flip himself on stage! I remember Ron Underwood doing a panel for TREMORS. You can just tell that they’re genuinely excited about it. I know for a fact that Adam (Green) is very proud of HATCHET, no matter what shit he gets for it, or no matter whatever accolade he gets for it, HE is proud of his movie. I feel the same exact way. I am extremely proud of what I got to do. Is it perfect? No fucking way! No way is WRONG TURN 2 by any stretch of the means a perfect film, BUT for what it is and for the influences I had on it, I know I did a successful job on it. So, why not tell people?
Plus, if the film was theatrical, it’d be a lot easier. People are smart enough to think that when a film is theatrical, then it must mean that the studio loves it and when the film is direct to video, then the studio doesn’t love it. There are so many on-line critics out there on the IMDB message boards who think they know the whole score. “The reason WRONG TURN 2 is not in theaters is because the studio thinks it sucks!” That’s unfair. I hate to say that, but that’s an unfair stigma that doesn’t apply to this film, especially over the fact that FOX actually did consider putting it out theatrically. It didn’t mean that they didn’t like the film and that’s the reason it didn’t go out. It’s just that financially it didn’t make sense to put a horror film out in the summer, especially after the walloping they got with HILLS HAVE EYES 2. For me, I felt it was an awesome, ambitious challenge to spend the next couple of months, going out there, meeting fans and just saying “Hey, I’m really proud of my movie, I think you’ll like it, because I’m one of you guys.
Look, we all have different tastes, but if you like splatter movies and you like 80’s horror like I do, you’re going to really dig this movie and you might want to give it a fair shot.” When it was announced before I was even hired, I did the same thing. I thought OK. It was only after I got to see the possibilities with it and then to be given the reign to do what I could with it. Horror on video is changing in a big way, because you have films like this, and you have Anchor Bay supporting films like BEHIND THE MASK, even though it got a limited theatrical release which was bunk in a way, the film obviously is catching an audience on video. Besides, all the films that influenced me are ones that I saw on video. So I felt like it was the perfect opportunity to pay tribute to those and also get away with as much fucked up shit as I could, because I knew that I would have this unrated DVD to show it all.

Mike C.: It’s true. The films that we grew up with on video are a LOT better then films that are direct to video now.

Oh, I agree!

Mike C.: There’s no effort and everything is treated like a throwaway project, and there are a lot of throwaway sequels. Which is the difference between what’s been done in the past and what you’ve done with WRONG TURN 2. You really feel that you didn’t go in with that “let’s just toss this aside” attitude, and it shows, Joe.

I can’t see how any filmmaker would want to go into any project and NOT be excited about it. I just don’t. Maybe I’m not jaded yet, and I haven’t taken those “buy the house” projects. This was to me my one time only chance to show how much I love the horror genre. To show how much it affected me in a good way, how much it inspired me in so many ways. The reviews that have come out have been amazing so far, and the ones that aren’t good, I just think “Well, I guess you didn’t get it.” I didn’t make the movie for everyone, I made it for us. I made it for the horror fans. If a broader audience finds it because of Henry Rollins or because of the cast or even just because of word of mouth, which is how good horror films get out there then that’s great.
If I can at least make the horror fans happy like I would be, then I did my job. That’s all that matters to me. And I really feel like I did. There’s this debate now that I ripped off TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE in WRONG TURN 2. Are you guys going to go tell Edgar Wright that he ripped off Romero films with SHAUN OF THE DEAD? It’s the same exact thing. There’s nothing wrong with paying tribute by giving it your own spin. I can watch the dinner scene and go “Of course it’s derivative of TEXAS CHAIN SAW.”
D’uh, how could you not see that? BUT, I can at least attest that TEXAS doesn’t have a chick strapped in with razor wire, or that they’re feeding her entrails. It’s about tweaking the conventions. Everyday on set was that. God, I love horror movies and I love seeing all this come together. I hope it’s the same kind of passion and effort that went into the films that inspired it. You’re right, there are a lot of films out there that you’d hope would be better and have more passion and creativity.

But of course, there are compromises and problems that arise, bitchy actors. Whatever. It means so much to me to actually see people getting it because they love the horror genre too and they see the little hints and the nods.

Mike C.: Being that WRONG TURN 2 focused on the other relatives of the mutants from the original film, were you ever tempted to re-title it WRONG TURN TOO!?

My original title when I went into FOX was ANOTHER WRONG TURN. Part of it was because “2” sometimes scares people off. I thought here’s a way I’d be able to do my own thing, and the title will help people get it. If you called ALIENS ALIEN 2, I think it would’ve had a different effect, but the fact that it’s called ALIENS, you get the sequel, but you also feasibly say that is a different movie then ALIEN. I figured if it’s called ANOTHER WRONG TURN that could work. Believe me, I contemplated the TEEN WOLF TOO, with the T-O-O. (Laughs) I definitely did. I thought “Hey, they’re making it as well.” I got the understanding that FOX wanted to make sure it was right next to the first WRONG TURN in terms of the boxes at Blockbuster, so obviously ANOTHER WRONG TURN would not have allowed that. I tried, I tried for the T-O-O. I swear. I thought I’d have Jason Bateman fly in with hair everywhere. (Laughs)
What can fans expect from the DVD release for WRONG TURN 2? How hands on were you when it came to the supplementary material included?

The DVD is chock full of gory goodies, I’m so glad we stuffed it to the brim. We have 2 commentaries (one with myself, Rollins and Erics, one with the Writers Turi & Al), 3 documentaries including one from my friend P-Nut from 311 who visited the set, plus some easter eggs… remember those? I really wanted to make it like an old school DVD when the special features mattered, and I was lucky enough to work with Trailer Park Studios pretty closely on all of the special features and they were great to work with, they know their shit. Being a DVD nut, I’m really proud of the end product, especially the look and sound of it. People who downloaded the sucker are really missing out on all the great stuff. For a first DVD release, you’re really getting your money’s worth. Plus… the only version out is the unrated cut. Sorry church groups, no pussy footing around here… I’m really happy Fox went that route.

You recently acted in a short film called THIRSTY with the lovely Tiffany Shepis and Michael Bailey Smith. How’d you get involved in that film and what was that whole experience like? (After all, Tiffany’s pretty foxy!)

THIRSTY was a short story by Joe Knetter, who I met at Fearfest in Dallas and when he gave me his shorts compilation, I fell in love with his vile, beautifully repugnant work… it was like the days of the literary splatterpunks, you know? So Knetter, Director Andrew Kasch & the screenwriter David Roziak contacted me and said, “We really want you in this” and once I read the script, I saw why; it’s totally fucked up fun and I guess they needed someone who was willing to just go for it and bring something fun to the role of a guy desperate for a cold drink on a very hot night and all the horrible and hilarious hi-jinx that ensue… Hey, that’s good!

We’re still shooting some more but it’s nearly complete, and the cast is a goldmine of horror vets, with some new additions Kasch just cast that blew my geek mind. Oh… and I get to be up close and personal with Shepis in one scene… which is nice. My wife even gave me the “OK”, and Tiffany and I are friends, along with the crew, so it was a barrel of monkeys shooting this and I can’t wait to see the final product… Kasch is a sick talented twisted bastard and from what I’ve seen so far, I’m psyched, even though I can’t stand seeing myself act!
Robg.: Is it too early to talk about what you might have coming next? I assume you want to say in the horror genre?

Oh of course. With the strike, who knows what’s really next. I have a couple of things I’m working on now and hopefully they all go through. Some are horror and some aren’t horror. There’s no musical comedy or anything. (Laughs) They’re all in the genre in one way or another, but nothing I can talk about now, because I just don’t want to jinx it.

Robg.: Last but not least, I think WRONG TURN 2 is the only horror film in history to feature “mutant masturbation”…


Mike C.: Oh my goodness…

Robg.: Would you care to comment on that?

That was an on the day thing! That wasn’t in the script!

Mike C.: Really? That was all you? Never would have guessed! (Laughs)

Yeah, and very method too. I had to show Clint the proper spit technique. You know what? Our saliva is just a mobile masturbation unit. Ready at any moment. Hey, you guys know what it’s like to be in New York in April! You’re walking around, the girls are taking their shirts off all of a sudden, you need to have that fucking lube ready to go at all times.


That moment in the script, he was kind of rubbing himself. But I’m like “Fuck this, man. We’re going all out.” Again it was that mentality that I could push myself and I could push the limits because worse comes to worse, I could cut it out. But at least I had it. The fact that I had Clint do that and the fact that it made it into the film still blows my mind. It’s funny. The moment he spits, everyone goes “Oh my God!”

And I’m like, “Umm, I almost guarantee that almost every one of you motherfuckers this morning rubbed one out in the bathroom/shower/garage/car/girls face, whatever. So don’t give me any of that bullshit about masturbation being taboo.

Robg.: Well, we all laughed when we saw it and said, “Well this is obviously a Joe Lynch movie.”

Hey, if I can say that some of my motifs are body fluids? Then I’m happy.

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