Exclusive Interview: Joe Lynch

Joe Lynch

Joe Lynch is a fountain of movie knowledge and possesses inordinate enthusiasm for anything horror. Just 31, he has amassed an almost encyclopedic database in his head about the genre�s best artists. House of Horrors caught up with him recently as he promoted his new film, WRONG TURN 2: DEAD END, which is due for release in Joe�s words, �Between October 8th and 10th,� clearly thinking outside the box when warned by Fox not to disclose the film�s DVD release date.

Jonathan Stryker: You�re from Long Island, NY. What was life like growing up there?

Joe Lynch: I was born in 1976 in Port Jefferson, NY and I live in Los Angeles now. Growing up on Long Island was deeply disturbing! (laughs)

JS: Did you watch a lot of movies when you were young?

JL: Yeah, I started the moment I came out of my mother�s womb. My mother couldn’t get a babysitter when I was a kid so she used to take me to see everything. Most of what I grew up seeing were horror movies, and she also bought me Fangoria Magazine to show me how all this stuff was make-believe, which was really cool! So, since I was a kid, movies were my film school.

JS: Can you tell me your earliest memories of going to the movies?

JL: Most of the movies I saw were films at multiplexes that I would sneak in to see. I would even pay for EXORCIST III and go see other movies, and I was conscientious to want my money to go to Fox for EXORCIST III even though I was sneaking into other films.

JS: Have you always been a fan of horror films?

JL: Yeah, all the horror movies I love I ended up seeing on video. The EVIL DEAD films, John Carpenter�s films, THE STUFF, RAWHEAD REX. I would go see movies just because a particular cinematographer, like Dante Spinotti, shot the film.

JS: Tell me the horror films that had the biggest impact on you.

JL: Oh, shit�THE THING, THE BLOB, THE EXORCIST, THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, ALIENS, THE EVIL DEAD, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, FRIDAY THE 13TH PART II�the list goes on and on and on�the big one for me was SUSPIRIA because I didn�t know what the fuck was going on, you know? But I could not stop watching it. I mean, what eight year-old watches SUSPIRIA and tries to understand it? Too many films to name, but those are the ones that just vomited out of my head.

JS: How did WRONG TURN 2: DEAD END come to you?

JL: It came to me in a PDF file while I was in Tokyo! A friend of mine was working at a production company and he was asked by other people there if he knew of anyone who would want to direct this script. So, he recommended me. I read the script and was inspired by the kind of �video nasty� feel to it and I just latched on to it. I said that I wanted to make this the ultimate love letter to the Eighties splatter movies. I wanted it to be authentic right down to the fonts in the lettering, the blood color, the tone in the actors� performances, and the overall look and feel of an Eighties splatter flick, where I’m basically lamenting the end of the type of horror movie that I grew up watching when I was a kid.

JS: Bear McCreary is a great composer. Was he your first choice to score the film?

JL: Actually, Mike Patton was originally set to score the film, but that fell through, unfortunately, due to a scheduling conflict. But, we�re gonna work together someday. So, I was laying down a lot of temp tracks to get the mood of the film and just put in as much music as I possibly could, but it just wasn’t working. So, my friend Yale called me up and said, �Dude, you’re going in the wrong direction. Buy the scores to the new BATTLESTAR GALACTICA series and listen to them.� I put them on, and it fit like a glove, it was amazing. You know, the film has a particular tone because it�s horror, but it also has action and a sense of humor, too. And all of that fit in with what Bear had written, even in the GALACTICA stuff. His music is grand, operatic, bombastic, and theatrical.

There were moments in that that just inspired me so much. So, I called Bear and he came in and watched a rough cut of the film and agreed to do it. One of the greatest honors that I could have had was being a big Oingo Boingo fan. My wife and I were driving up to Santa Cruz one day and Bear calls me up on my cell and tells me that most of Oingo Boingo was in his house playing the music to my film! I literally had to pull over when he told me that. This movie, more and more, literally becomes me. If someone ripped out my soul and put it up there on the screen, for better or for worse, WRONG TURN 2 would be the result.

I see so much of myself in the film, and I don’t want to sound like an egomaniac. I got to make so many great creative choices, right from the beginning! And I’m so proud of that. The fact that I got Bear to score it, and the fact that I got to do the types of kills that I’ve wanted to do right from the beginning, the fact that I got the chance to do everything I wanted was just incredible.

JS: How did you come up with the ideas of the types of kills you ended up doing?

JL: Basically, I asked myself, what type of kills do I want to see? What is it that I have not seen before? And then, let’s face it, when you watch these movies from the point of view of watching it as though you’re in school, and learning about how movies are made, you ask yourself what you yourself would want to see that’s never been done before. And I’m so grateful for the opportunity to be given this script so that I could make the film that would enable me to make the type of movie that I want to see. This is very much a personal film for me, and Bear is a huge part of that. Bear is a genius, and I would love to work with him for as long as I continue to make movies, unless of course he becomes too big in the industry�and then I�m fucked! (laughs)

JS: How will WRONG TURN 2: DEAD END be different from its predecessor?

JL: Well, in certain respects, it is very much a direct sequel to the original film. It wouldn�t make any sense that the survivors of the first film would come back to the woods (laughs).

JS: Right!

JL: Let alone go to fucking Central Park without feeling nervous. So, it makes sense that they aren’t back. To prepare for this film, I looked at ALIEN and ALIENS and the tonal shift from the first film to the second film. There are (dialog) lines from ALIENS that are in the movie, and there are even lines that the Fox people didn’t even get until I told them, and they said, �That�s great! Talk more about ALIENS! That�ll rack up the DVD sales!� So, it would behoove me to make the same exact movie again where Rob (Schmidt) was very loving to DELIVERANCE, I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE, THE HILLS HAVE EYES, and CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST. My pitch to the executives was what if Jean-Pierre Jeunet (ALIEN 4) remade CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST. So, the film emphasizes more �wrong� in the wrong turn. Like ALIENS, it injects more of an Eighties sensibility where there is more of a blending of hardcore action and a sense of humor, too. It’s not a comedy whatsoever.

I am a firm believer in the idea that a horror film can have some aspects of comedy without it being an out-and-out comedy. For me, that’s the sugar that makes the medicine go down. I’ve always seeing ALIENS as a roller coaster ride, and this is the type of movie I set out to make by making this film. If you watch WRONG TURN and WRONG TURN 2 as a double feature, I think you�ll find that they feel like they are both part of the same film. Even though my film stays true to the original film, I also feel that it stands on its own as well.

JS: What�s next for you?

JL: I�m just waiting for the film to come out. Right now I�m working on THE OZONERS, which is very much for me a pet project. I’ve always been a fan of monster movies. And I’m not talking about the man dressed up as a monster type of movie. I�m talking about the films that really get under your skin, like a great Cronenberg film, or THE THING and THE BLOB remake. These are film is that really work with on a ground-level and give you the impression that the effect is really a part of a person�s body.

I miss the heyday of the good horror movie. When I saw THE HOST, I thought, well now the technology really exists to allow you to do anything you really want pretty much. I love Sam Raimi�s and Peter Jackson’s movies because the camera really becomes another character. Likewise, the camera in WRONG TURN 2: DEAD END is a character as well. With THE OZONERS, it�s a period film � it takes place in 1994! Who has done a film about the Nineties?! It�s gonna be DAZED AND CONFUSED MEETS THE THING � I can�t fucking wait!!! I am so excited.

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