Exclusive Interview: Joe Lynch
By Jonathan Stryker
Oct 10, 2007, 20:26
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
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!
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
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!
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
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
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