FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS | BOOTH'S BLOG Brand New Interview With Joe Lynch Co-Director Of Chillerama
By James Whittington, Wednesday 10th April 2013
The superb shocker Chillerama was given its UK Television premiere last month on the Horror Channel and can be seen on April 11th. This comic horror anthology was directed by four of the most talented directors around at the moment; Adam Rifkin, Joe Lynch, Adam Green and Tim Sullivan.
Over four nights we're posting interviews with these fine fellows about this movie and what other projects they're working on. Tonight it's the turn of Joe Lynch.
HC: Are you a big fan of the old horror anthology movies of the 60s and 70s?
JL: Honestly, I was aware of those older anthologies like the original Tales From The Crypt movie and the Amicus stuff, but I grew up with Creepshow, Nightmares, Twilight Zone: The Movie, Tales From The Darkside: The Movie, American anthologies like those. LOVED the HBO Tales From The Crypt too. SO my anthology adoration skews a LITTLE more recent and stateside.
HC: There's been a resurrection of the Anthology genre, why do you think that is and do you have a recent favourite?
JL: I think the reason anthologies are having a renaissance is because there are a lot of audiences who are enjoying the construct of the short-form cinema, thanks to the advent of YouTube, Vimeo and just the Internet in general catering to the ADD-addled culture where sometimes, to paraphrase Jud Crandall in Pet Sematary, "Short is bettah". For filmmakers, it' not as large and time-consuming a commitment like a feature is – I shot my segments for Chillerama in 9 days, for example (and for better or worse!) - and you can get away with a lot more experimentation with a short, be it story, visuals, execution and even extremities. You have a lot more room to play with a short film and the allure of a bunch of short films, fused with a sort of thematic thru-line or even recurring characters or talent in front or behind the camera, is exciting to me. Plus, with a feature film, if you don't like an element of what you're watching, that distaste usually permeates throughout the course of said film as a whole for the viewer. With an anthology, there's usually something for every taste; good, bad or otherwise. "Didn't like this one? Don't worry, there's a new story and vision coming right up!" I enjoy the idea of mixing different stories, styles and tones. In terms of a recent favourite Anthology, hands down, Trick R' Treat is a modern masterpiece. Sure, Mike wrote and directed all of the segments, but they felt so unique in the tapestry of one Halloween night and I loved how the stories blended together. That movie is awesome. I'm also an unabashed lover of Grindhouse, since it was one of the best times at the movies I'd had in years. Even if both films are somewhat feature length, it still felt like an anthology to me.
HC: What was the inspiration for your story for Chillerama?
JL: I was a Drive-In Brat; my parents brought us to the local DI almost every weekend till the multiplexes popped up and killed the Drive-Ins. I clearly remember Don Coscarelli’s Beastmaster being my first Drive-In movie, and what an experience it was! Marc Singer? Rip Torn? Those Ferrets?? We loved it so much my family stayed put for the 2nd show! But I loved the culture, the atmosphere, the hot dogs. So I always wanted to capture that nostalgia in a film and many years ago I wrote a script called The Ozoners (which is what Drive Ins were called back in the day), which was essentially Dazed And Confused meets The Thing, about a Drive-In on it's last night of business in the 90s and of course, a monster shows up! When Chillerama came about, I basically reshaped The Ozoners into what Zom-B-Movie ultimately became. Also, since there is a Drive In near us… and the same Drive In we shot my segment in, the Vineland, I got to relive my love for those woebegone days of watching movies in the open night air by going and doing research…yeah… "Research". But being there, shooting at the Drive In with all those people, it was a blast… I was like a kid again. Plus, since I was a little kid and my first film was Dawn Of The Dead, I always had the tagline "When there's no more room in HELL, the DEAD shall walk the Earth!" in my mind. Not to completely show how twisted a tyke I was back then, but I remember in Junior High I made a joke to friends that "When there's no more room in HELL, the DEAD shall F*** the Earth!" which got a huge laugh, got me sent to the principal but also got my creative juices flowing. That idea of taking the Zombie mythos one step further with a sexual bent just felt like a taboo I wanted to tackle, and this was the right project for it. Might as well have fun being offensive, you know?
HC: How did you pitch it to the other directors?
JL: Rifkin and Sullivan had already pitched their ideas to us, which they were developing together before Green and I came aboard; in our first meeting, Rifkin said there was an idea with Zombies at a Drive In. That reminded me of The Ozoners so I just did some rewriting, added a new opening and ending and they loved it. Plus, the title Zom-B-Movie just fit Chillerama like a glove, especially being a bridging segment to tie all the films together, to give us a point why the viewer is watching 4 VERY different visions. Deathication on the other hand… I'm still shocked they said yes but we all agreed we needed a fake-out for the last film and the character of Fernando Phagabeefy was around for a while… and who doesn’t like a little s*** in their Cinema? The spirit of John Waters, Ed Wood and Lloyd Kaufman also hung over this project, so I thought I'd tap into those ideas a bit in one fell 2 minute swoop, which has always gotten an… "interesting" reaction wherever it plays. This whole project was about tearing taboos apart, and that people take s***s every day yet are squeamish about poop humour is hilarious to me. That short was pure, unadulterated sophomoric id… we had 6 hours, 2 cameras and a LOT of fake poop…we used every last drop. One for the bucket-list, folks.
HC: Did you all have similar sized budgets?
JL: No. Without getting into specific numbers, we all knew some shorts would take more time and money than others. Green's short for Anne Frankenstein was the cheapest, so he set the standard and actually used the lack of funds to the highest comedic effect. Rifkin had the most FX and grand scope to get that Godzilla feel, so his was the most expensive. With Zom-B and Deathication, I had the most length and page count, so Cory Neal, our producer at ArieScope, was very smart in dolling out appropriate budgets to each film. But then again, Chillerama was designed to be produced for little to no money to reflect the Z-Movie genre we’re spoofing/paying tribute to, so we still had to call in an insane amount of favours to make it all work. We all knew the limitations of how to make Chillerama, but since all 4 of us started in the indie, low/no budget world, we were all realistic and comfortable with what we had, and that we weren’t making high art. More like High Fart.
HC: Zombies; which do you prefer Walkers or Runners?
JL: Depends on the context of the story. I'm "Old School" when it comes to Zombie-love, like the Romero films and Val Lewton's Voodoo zombies, but I also enjoyed Snyder's take on Dawn, or Boyle's 28 Days Later, both of which employ faster-moving dead. So it really depends on the tone and threat level the filmmakers set up in the story to justify if we have shufflers or sprinters. With Zom-B-Movie, I wanted a more Romero-by-Way-Of-Dante tone to the zombies and their physical acumen. It felt more retro to go slow… plus most of them had their pants around their ankles whacking off and as we all know trying to run with our knickers down our knees is a tough time!
HC: You were also responsible for the wrap around story, did the other directors help out for that or was it one of your own pieces?
JL: I treated the wraparound segments and Zom-B-Movie all like one 55 page short featurette, one that I knew and designed to seamlessly segway to and from each of the films playing at the Kaufman Drive In that final night. When I scripted it, we all shared our drafts and give each other great notes, but I was also able to see what everyone was doing so I could have the characters in the film react to each short as if they were watching along with us, which was really cool. Since everyone’s schedules were INSANE when we made this, the only other director who actually was on set with me at the Drive In was Green, who shot a bunch of inserts. We had 3 units going almost every night! I got a lot of cardio those days running from unit to unit. Also, Jason Miller who was a producer and VFX supervisor on the film, helped me shoot the opening as well. But ultimately I was the “showrunner” so to speak and all the on-set depravity was digested through my creative entrails.
HC: Would you like to work with this team of directors again?
As you know Green and I have been collaborating together for almost 8 years now, including the Road To FrightFest shorts, Chillerama and or course, the TV show Holliston. He's my brother from another mutha and we love working together. Rifkin is a sick genius and I loved watching his process. It really all depends on the project.
HC: Would you like to be part of another anthology film such as the recent ABC's Of Death?
JL: Hell yes! I love short films and any of my passion that can be compiled with other great, like-minded filmmakers is a good thing. I’m actually doing a few shorts this year, but I'd love to be part of an anthology again, given the right circumstances… and I'm dying to still see ABC's Of Death, so behind lately!
HC: You must be pleased Chillerama received its UK premiere on the Horror Channel?
JL: After the crazy "love it or hate it" response at FrightFest ’11, we knew we had something special with Chillerama. I know that’s a strange response but to us, the worst reaction would have been "Meh". That it gets such a polarizing response from fans, positive or negative, means to me we struck a chord, just like many of the films we were paying tribute to with it… and that it’s going to be on Horror Channel, which I always love discovering what's being programmed on there because you guys know and love the genre like few other networks out there, so it’s a true honour.
HC: So what are you working on at the moment?
JL: Besides finishing up the 2nd season of Holliston, which debuts in the states June 4th, I'm about to shoot my next feature film Everly this summer, which is a dark, twisted action thriller. Not in my usual wheelhouse, but it's a story that is very close to me (I co-wrote the script) and I couldn't be more excited to shoot the hell out of it as a fan of action films. Best way to describe Everly? Die Hard… in a Room. And there's a few cool surprises in store this year, but I'm gonna keep those under wraps for now… cause who doesn't like a good surprise now and then?
HC: Joe Lynch, thank you very much.
JL: Thank YOU Horror Channel, for keeping the horror love alive from across the pond!
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