LATEST | FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS Exclusive Interview With Director Joe Lynch - Part 1
By James Whittington, Monday 26th March 2012 Joe Lynch is one of the most creative people working in the movie industry today. He first blasted onto the UK horror scene with his superb shocker Wrong Turn 2 and since then he has built up quite a reputation. Not only was he part of the team behind the awesome multi-story picture Chillerama, (one of the big hits of FrightFest 2011) but also the much anticipated movie Knights Of Badassdom.
In this, this first of a two part interview Joe talks about The Knights Of Badassdom and the films he's chosen for his Horror Channel Director’s Night which you can catch this Thursday from 9pm.
HC: Did you know from a young age that you wanted to be in the movie industry?
JL: I knew I wanted to be involved in the movies the moment I was 3 and saw Star Wars in the theatre. While it was playing, I was so mesmerized by what was on that screen that I hopped off my Dad's lap and ran down the aisle and to the back exit, which was located behind the screen. I thought everyone in the film was actually behind the screen, acting out the movie! When I realized it wasn’t live and there were no droids or wookies back there and it was all "movie magic", that was the first time I remember thinking, "Whatever this is, I want to do it". I also thought "I bet that furry guy smells like dog farts" but that's somewhat unrelated.
HC: How did you get your big break into the business?
JL: Depends on which break! Feels like every opportunity I've had so far has been a break, which I'm so grateful for. I'd say the first time I was paid actual money to be any part of making a movie was when I was hired to work on Troma's Terror Firmer right out of college; I was first hired as a grip and by the end of the shoot I was acting, helping the writing team, directing background actors and still moving lights. It was an awesome summer boot camp and a great way to see how a movie is made even with 59 cents, a melon and some karo syrup! After we wrapped Terror Lloyd Kaufman asked me to work at Troma as a writer, which as a big Troma fan growing up, was the first cross off on my bucket list. Believe me, it's a long list... or a deep bucket, whichever. But I was honoured and had a great year working there.
JL: I wanted to pick 3 movies from the list we were given that affected me as a viewer, either as a kid or even now. Larry Cohen's The Stuff just freaked me out as a kid. Good horror taps into anything that is everyday and commonplace and then injects terror or uncovers fear, like Jaws, right? Sharks are real. Sharks COULD eat you. Boom, any beach was a hunting ground. Well, I was never a fan of the beach, so while that movie IS terrifying, it didn't resonate with me as much as others. But killer frozen yogurt? Deadly FOOD?! To a chubby kid like I was, that's some nightmare-inducing sh*t, man. "Just when you thought it was safe to pig out!". The movie's tone was a bit "ham 'n cheese", but Cohen knew what he's making and it's a really fun 80s monster flick, especially since it was exploiting the Frozen Yogurt craze at the time. That Larry Cohen knows how to tap into the zeitgeist! Great, now I'm hungry.
Argento's Deep Red, while not the first Giallo film I'd ever seen, is easily my favourite of his work. Everything clicks, the film is timeless and so are the scares. It still gets me every time, that damn puppet. I also think it's my favourite Goblin score... that recurring ditty the child sings is chilling. I'm a huge Argento fan so it's hard to pick sometimes, but Deep Red always wins.
David Lynch's Lost Highway was a film I obsessed over in film school when it came out. I was always interested in Lynch, aside from the name of course, and was a big fan of Wild At Heart and Twin Peaks, so I was stoked for this one when it was released. Between the bizarre script, the freaky Robert Blake and his video camera, the infamous "phone call scene" with Blake and Pullman, Arquette's boobs in slo-mo, the amazing Reznor-approved soundtrack, which introduced my ears to Rammstein... everything about that film works as a celluloid interpretation of a waking nightmare and only made me more fearful of Los Angeles, which is ironic being that I wound up here. Having lived in L.A. going on 10 years? I think Lynch was being subtle! THAT's what's scary. Lost Highway always seems like an afterthought when people talk about "Uncle Dave"* and his body of work, but its one I enjoy watching again and again. Not just for the slo-mo boobs, I swear.
HC: If you had the chance would you like to remake or re-imagine any of them?
JL: I think of the three, The Stuff is the most "re-bootable" especially with the Pinkberry designer yogurt fad here in the states, you could really tap into that “fear of toppings” people have when they are forced to choose just one. Oh the horror! Deep Red could work as its own story but I don't own enough black gloves to slip into Argento's mindset for that. I dare ANYONE to try to remake Lost Highway. I'm not touching that one. I have enough nightmares of my own to put on-screen.
HC: We first met when your movie Wrong Turn 2 premiered at FrightFest, how do you think you’ve grown as an artist since then?
JL: I'm sure some would think I've shrunk as an artist! But personally, every opportunity I've gotten or will get to be creative is like unlocking an achievement; be it a directing gig like Knights Of Badassdom, commercials and music videos, shorts on the web, collaborating on Chillerama, acting and developing a sitcom with my best friend from the ground up, now directing my passion project I conceived with Everly... every opportunity has helped me "level up" so to speak as both an artist and a businessman since when you make movies or tell stories in this industry, you have to juggle both of those hats... and many more at times! I'm fully aware it's a business and you have to deliver a "product" or "content" and most times you're working with other people's money, but I also know as a movie lover that watching a story unfold with a unique point of view or a voice is that much more exciting an experience, so it's been an exciting challenge to continually find ways of blending art and commerce. My favourite directors do it, and my favourite movies are proof therein, so why not navigate the same waters? So I guess that's kind of an artsy-fartsy, answer, no?
Looking back on my first feature, I'm so extremely proud of what I was able to do with WT2, and how it turned out, especially in the studio system. In hindsight, I never thought working creatively in the Indie word would be MORE challenging! It's a very strange industry, but again, I'm learning every day and getting stronger for it. I do believe in fate and I think every project seems secretly designed to prepare me for the next, all the while allowing me to work in this business. It's been very exciting and I'm so lucky.
HC: We got a sneaky peek at your movie Knights Of Badassdom at FrightFest last year. This surely has the most awesome title for a movie – ever! Where did the idea come from?
JL: Yeah that title rocks, it's what immediately got me reading! The title came from Matt Wall and Kevin Dreyfuss, the writer/producers of the script, that story is their baby and the title was the cherry on top. They had such a funny script but it also had bite, a sense of danger amidst the foam swords and cardboard dragons. Honestly, I was just hired as the director, but it was fun playing in this world with that fantastic cast. I couldn't have been luckier with those guys; everyone seemed to have a blast playing dress up, just like LARPing (see below!).
HC: Can you tell us a bit more about The Knights Of Badassdom?
JL: It's a kind of a "Heavy Metal Horror Adventure" about a bunch of 30-something buddies who embark on a LARP (Live Action Role Play) and get embroiled in an unlikely supernatural campaign that propels them into real danger. So its fake swords, real monsters. Who doesn't want to see that? We have a dream cast (Ryan Kwanten, Steve Zahn, Summer Glau, Jimmi Simpson and of course Peter Dinklage) and it's been a blast to make. We did a preview presentation at Comic-Con where myself, the cast, the writers and producers showed the first trailer and a clip and it couldn't have gone better, it seems people are truly excited for an edgy, fun genre-blending adventure film that isn't based on another film or a board game!
JL: Will we get to see this in the UK soon?
JL: Sadly, not my dept. I hope it comes out before the apocalypse!
In the next part Joe talks at length about Chillerama and gives us the latest on his new TV series Holliston.
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