Posts Tagged ‘Soska Sisters’
Wednesday 10th November
Thursday 11th November
0000: Mystery Grindhouse with Nicko and Joe’s Bad Film Club
Friday 12th November
Saturday 13th November
Sunday 14th November
A unique homage to giallo, this visual trip through the aesthetics of the genre taps into its very psyche. Following the girl Ana through three phases in her life (childhood, adolescent and adult), it is a film driven by the experience of being seen. Bolstering a fabulous soundtrack taken straight from the original movies, the attention to detail is phenomenal and perfectly captures the feel and even editing style of the original classic giallo pictures.
This screening will have an introduction by renowned Giallo expert Mikel Koven.
THE CAT AND THE CANARY with live piano accompaniment
A classic silent horror film adaptation of John Willard’s 1922 black comedy play of the same name. Directed by German Expressionist filmmaker Paul Leni, this highly influential film follows the story of Annabelle and her family who must spend the night in their uncle’s haunted mansion where they are stalked by a mysterious figure. Meanwhile, a lunatic known as “the Cat” escapes from an asylum and hides in the mansion.
Director Paul Leni was known for blending expressionism with humour and this film was extremely influential in the ‘old dark house’ genre of films popular from the 30’s through to the 50’s. It was also a very early horror entry for Universal Studios and is considered the cornerstone of Universal’s school of horror.
We are delighted to welcome back silent film pianist Paul Shallcross, who will be playing a score specially commissioned by the Abertoir Horror Festival.
COUNTESS DRACULA with introduction by Dr Kate Egan
Based on the true story of Elisabeth Bathory (Ingrid Pitt), the eighteenth-century Transylvanian Countess who indulged herself in an orgy of murder and vampirism.
The ageing Countess discovers by accident that the blood of young virgins has an unnatural restorative effect on her celebrated beauty. Years later, she becomes engaged to a handsome young Hussar and is forced to repeat vile atrocities with ever-increasing regularity to hold off old age.
DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK plus recorded introduction
Set in beautiful Vancouver, four friends set out on an everyday errand and end up in a fight for their lives when they discover the body of a dead hooker left in their trunk. Lead by a sexy, impulsive Badass (Sylvia Soska), her distant Geek twin sister (Jen Soska), their bible thumping, Jesus loving Goody Two Shoes friend (CJ Wallis), and a chaotic, rockstar Junkie pal (Rikki Gagne), the group has to put aside their differences to dispose of the body before they’re next.
Thrown into their own personal purgatory, they face off against persistent police, a sleazy motel manager, chainsaw wielding triads, and a brutal serial killer. All the while they are followed by a mysterious Cowboy Pimp (John Tench) who wants to claim the corpse for his own. Will they uncover the truth behind the body and be able to stand up to their demons? Buckle up and get ready for the ride of your life filled with gun fights, extreme violence, blood, guts, gore, and goats!
Dead Hooker In A Trunk is the unexpected first feature film written and directed by identical twin sisters, Jen and Sylvia Soska. The newcomers created an impossible film that is an underground sensation, destined to be a cult classic and will make you fall in love with films again!
Sam has always been obsessed with vampires from the time he was a child. On Sam’s 21st birthday, a mysterious gentleman offers him a peculiar career choice: become an assistant to a real life Vampire. Intrigued and enthusiastic, Sam takes the job but soon realizes that it is not so cool or pleasant to serve his master’s corrupt and neurotic behaviour.
Probably the first horror film about the sub-prime mortgage crisis, this enjoyably violent film tells of a frustrated prospective home-buyer who will do anything to reduce the price of a Hong Kong apartment she has her eyes on…
Screening sponsored by the Lampter Confucius Institute
Jan Doense, Netherlands 2003, 7mins
Night has fallen. A thunderstorm approaches. In a lonely house a young woman mourns her deceased husband. In the cemetery across the street the shape of a man rises from his grave…
UK PREMIERE – EXORCISMUS
From the producers of REC, this latest film follows 15-yr-old Emma Hawkins. Restless, tired of her overprotective parents and sick of having to watch her younger brother all the time, she hopes to get away and have a life of her own. Suddenly, Emma’s life changes in an unexpected way when she starts having frightening fits. Although her parents attribute her behaviour to psychological problems, Emma senses that something much darker is hiding inside her. As the situation gradually worsens, it becomes clear that whatever is hiding inside her won’t be hiding for much longer. Starring Stephen Billington and Abertoir favourite Doug Bradley.
UK PREMIERE – FIRED
Joy Mittal, the arrogant CEO of H.W.L.S, in a hardnosed decision to repair his scandal ridden work record, and prove his ability to emerge as a pioneering leader in times of financial crisis, fires all the employees from his London office. Amongst the sacked employees is Ruby Herminson, an alluring, sophisticated, career-driven woman, with whom a married Joy is having a long affair. Joy fires Ruby along with the rest of the people he considers expendable.
After a trying day, Joy wraps up some paperwork and tries to head home, but soon realizes that the only possible way of leaving the office is the one he least bargained for. Cornered in a deserted office, Joy discovers the monstrosity of the gruesome supernatural force in the building, which is hell-bent on extracting revenge for his ruthless actions.
A film that caused controversy in India, this is a fascinating movie that plays out in real-time.
THE HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL
What Abertoir festival is complete without our unofficial patron saint Vincent Price making an appearance? A rich millionaire (Price) invites a group of people to his mansion with the promise that if they survive the night, they will receive $10,000. Castle was a fond lover of gimmicks, and frequently employed a number of surprises for the audiences who attended his films. However, we do stress that this particular screening is so frightening that you should only attend if you’re sure you can stand it, we wouldn’t want to have to remove you now would we?
A young man wakes up in a cellar with no windows, an eerie neon light and a huge vault door made of impenetrable steel. The room is empty, except for a dead rat and a mysterious rusty locker he doesn’t have the key for. The man thinks he’s the victim of a particularly cruel practical joke, but soon he realises he’s going to die of thirst and hunger if he doesn’t quickly figure out how to escape. However, it seems there’s no way out.
I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE
Not released until February 2011, this is a special advance screening of the new remake of Meir Zarchi’s controversial 1978 cult horror film. A beautiful woman from the city, Jennifer Hills, rents an isolated cabin in the country to write her latest novel. Soon, a group of local lowlifes subject Jennifer to a nightmare of degradation, rape and violence. Left for dead, she returns for vengeance, trapping her male attackers one-by-one.
MUTANT GIRLS SQUAD
Noboru Iguchi, Yoshihiro Nishimura, Tak Sakaguchi, Japan 2010, 90mins, subtitled
From Kurosawa and Ozu through to modern day directors such as Yôji Yamada, Japanese cinema has also been renowned for its subtle expression of human emotions and family drama. If you are a connoisseur of this unique heritage of cinema, then we recommend renting Rashomon and staying far far away.
Yes, this is the ultimate in Japanese splatter, teaming up three of the country’s leading gore experts: Noboru Iguchi (ROBO-GEISHA, THE MACHINE GIRL), Yoshihiro Nishimura (TOKYO GORE POLICE, VAMPIRE GIRL VS. FRANKENSTEIN GIRL) and Tak Sakaguchi (DEATH TRANCE, VERSUS, SAMURAI ZOMBIE).
Rin is a seemingly normal Japanese high school girl. Yet after witnessing her mother’s face blown into bits and her father’s severed head falling into her birthday cake, Rin’s dormant mutant abilities are suddenly awakened transforming her into a brutal killing machine. Going on the run, she encounters a group of girl mutants including one who can grow a chainsaw from her body, and another one who can grow tentacles from her fingers. The team hone their skills to take revenge on the Japanese population and transform the country into a mutants only zone.
Think X-Men with tentacles.
MYSTERY GRINDHOUSE In Association with Nicko & Joe’s Bad Film Club
A long-standing tradition in the Abertoir schedule is our extremely popular Mystery Grindhouse. A film so terrible and cringe-worthingly bad, that we have to clean our screens after showing 90 minutes of pure crap. Well, this year will be no exception, and we are delighted to welcome comedians Nicko and Joe who will provide a live commentary to destroy what little shreds of credibility this mystery film ever held.
For the first time the shackles of polite cinema etiquette are discarded as the audience are encouraged to jeer, heckle and participate with the film creating a unique interactive cinema experience. Because, as we know, nothing is as much fun as watching a bad film with friends but, then again, nothing can be more soul destroying than watching one alone…
“Taking the piss out of such movies in the rowdy, bear-pit atmosphere that Nicko and Joe encourage is, I think, a way of reclaiming some of the time we’ve lost to all those bad films. I suspect this goes to the heart of the Bad Film Club’s appeal.” Time Out
In the depths of the Korvatunturi mountains, 486 metres deep, a team of experts are drilling for something. When a herd of reindeer is brutally ripped apart and children start to disappear, it appears the Christmas stories of Santa could not be more wrong. Stylish, award-winning film with a brilliantly warped sense of Tim Burton-esque humour.
THE SILENT HOUSE
With expert direction and camerawork, this is a film guaranteed to make you jump out of your seat. Not content with a regualr setup, The Silent House goes one further, and that’s because it was shot in just one single take. With great attention paid to the production values, and a true maturity to handle the shocks, this is a technical, visual and atmospheric achievement unlike any other in horror history.
Laura and her father arrive at a remote cottage on the eve before their contract to renovate it begins. Dank, dark, gloomy and bereft of electricity – forcing the pair to rely on battery lanterns and candles – they sit and wait alone while the house owner heads out for food. He leaves them with only one instruction: Don’t Go Upstairs. When her father does just that to investigate some strange noises, Laura’s stark staring fright night commences. Strong, compelling and mesmerising, THE SILENT HOUSE is a remarkable exercise in spine-chilling terror.
WORLD PREMIERE – SIREN plus Q&A with producer Christopher Granier-Deferre
Escaping the city for a weekend away, company man Ken and his girlfriend Rachel meet up with an old friend, the exotic and worldly Marco. Their plan is simple — tour the local coast for a relaxing weekend in the wilderness. Things hit a snag when Marco spots a beautiful young girl, the sultry and seductive Silka, waving for help off the shore of one of the many secluded islands. But if anyone needs help now, it’s them… SIREN is a terrifying tale of lust and revenge set on an abandoned island in the Mediterranean.
We are delighted to welcome producer Christopher Granier-Deferre for a Q&A after the screening.
VAMPIRES plus Q&A with producer John Engel
Brilliantly funny mockumentary focussing on a family of modern-day vampires living in Belgium. Bored with immortality, they spend their time going about their ordinary lives: attending classes on blood-sucking, eating illegal immigrants, children and handicapped folk, and taking every advantage they can to suck out of the country’s social system. Samson, a seventies throwback, lives his 55th year like he’s forever 20. Grace, an eternal teenager bent on being human again, keeps committing suicide. While George, the patriarch, manages as best he can, heading the eccentric family and its on-going squabbles with the neighbouring vampires.
We are delighted to welcome the film’s producer John Engel here to Aber for a Q&A following the screening.
THE VIOLENT KIND
Troubled Cody (Cory Knauf), a second-generation member of a violent and notorious biker gang, rides out with his friends to a party at a farmhouse located deep within the redwood forest. At the end of the wild evening, things take a turn for the worse when Cody’s ex-girlfriend Michelle (Tiffany Shepis) is discovered wandering aimlessly and covered in blood, screaming and convulsing. Cody and the others desperately try to get help for Michelle while stuck in the middle of nowhere, but their plans are quickly ruined when another malicious gang turns up. But what they want is far worse than just picking a fight.
The Violent Kind is a rare film, blending genres and twisting expected storylines to give a memorable and fun film. We dare you to guess the ending.
In the Valleys of South Wales a lonley spirit lingers in the dark, searching for his lover.
UK PREMIERE – WAKE
Driving to a wedding in LA through the Mojave Desert, Paul and Adrienne pull off the highway and into Roy’s Motel and Café. This roadside artifact proves to be a strange and surreal place with an unsettling mix of travellers, who force our couple to discover the horrifying secret hidden between them. Directed by the producer of the excellent All the Boys Love Mandy Lane.
WE ARE WHAT WE ARE
Already being heralded as the new ‘Let the Right One In’, this Mexican film is a powerful and compelling look at cannibals in a modern-day society. After a middle-aged man dies in the street, he leaves his widow and three sons destitute. The devastated family is confronted not only with his loss but with a terrible challenge – how to survive. As cannibals, they have always existed on a diet of human flesh consumed in bloody ritual ceremonies… and the victims have always been provided by the father. Now that he is gone, who will hunt? Who will lead them? How will they feed their horrific hunger?
In a village in Eastern Europe, beset by soldiers, its people seek different strategies to survive. But gradually the situation is complicated to limits that were never suspected.
THIS IS PART 2 OF THE SOSKA SISTER’S INTERVIEW… Click Here for Part 1
Hellbound Heart: Talk to us a little about your documentary film ‘Please Subscribe’, based on popular YouTube broadcasters, how did you decide to make this documentary?
Sylvia: I love YouTube. Absolutely love it. You get to see all these real-life normal folks that are so talented, funny, and creative broadcasting through a medium that anyone can use. We were still finishing up with Hooker and hadn’t had the opportunity to do anything creative for a while. We were watching our favourite viral celebrities online discussing what we should do next, maybe a documentary, and I suggested we try to do one about people we already enjoy and would like to know more about. We got into contact with David Choi, HappySlip, Tay Zonday, and Daxflame and they were courteous enough to take part in the project. You never know how people you watch for entertainment are going to be when you meet them in real life, but all of them were so genuinely nice, funny, smart, and lovely. We still talk to them on a regular basis as friends – just the kind of people you want to have in your life. The film, ‘Please Subscribe’, is getting to a final cut and will be doing the film festival circuit soon.
Jen: I truly feel that YouTubers are the new generation of independent film makers. They are masters of the short film. The time, intelligence, and skill that goes into much of their work blows me away. I’m in awe of how so many of them can pump out so many amazing videos and so frequently. They are so dedicated to their work and their business and their fans. They’re so innovative and always coming up with new ways to entice new viewers and satisfy their fan base. It’s incredible.
Hellbound Heart: You’ve taken part in – and done really well in – some short film contests lately, including a sharp short film titled Bad Girls and the film you made for the ‘Film Racing’ challenge. How did you get involved with these projects, and how did you find making these shorts?
Sylvia: CJ, Jen, and I all live together and usually work together on different artistic projects. If we aren’t working on something – rewrites, trying to get money together, shooting a video – we miss it. We are always working on new projects and planning what we will be doing next, but it’s not easy to just film a feature on a whim, so short films are awesome. For the timed short contests, it gives that same pressure on thinking on your toes while getting everything written, shot, and cut in a time frame. It’s great practice and it also gives you some really fun projects.
Thank you for your kind words about Bad Girls. We get a lot of shit for that one. My aunt in Europe saw it and now worries about us. I prefer there to be something realistic and awful about the violence in our films because when violence happens in reality there is no cutaway to spare the victim. Also, if something upsets or haunts me from real life – like seeing a kid’s eye get knocked out – I put it in a movie to share my horror with an audience. Most of the films in that competition were comedic horror, so Bad Girls kind of surprised people.
Jen: I love doing fast film competitions. It really keeps you on your toes and is great practice for indie film making. When you’re an independent film maker, there is great importance in problem solving and practical thinking. Truly, you never know what will go wrong or not go according to plan. When you do a fast film, you really just jump into it and give it everything you’ve got. That really is the spirit of independent film.
I’m very proud of our collective short films. I particularly enjoyed playing the Hornet. I miss her. Believe me, you haven’t seen the last of her.
Hellbound Heart: A lot of your stuff has a comic-book element to it – you actually play superhero characters in The Hornet, and you guys use a lot of cartoonish violence, snappy, sardonic dialogue, a dry sense of humour, where does that come from?
Sylvia: Reading lots of comic books and playing video games our whole live. I love sitting down and reading a great graphic novel – Preacher is amazing as are Ennis’ Punisher comics – or having a few days off to play a new game, kill some evil, save the world a bit. My mom always used humour to deal with things that scared us (like the horror movies we begged to see). I was terrified after seeing Poltergeist and my mom came in to watch the end of it and made a bug joke of all the horror. I still laugh when I watch horror movies – it makes me happy. I use humour for a bunch of situations in life. If things are shitty and you can still laugh about them, then it’s really not so bad.
Jen: We’ve always been hopelessly addicted to comics. And passionate about them. They definitely affect and influence our work. We can’t help but add our sense of humour to our work. I feel it’s something that sets us apart from others. I guess I would attribute our dark senses of humour to our mom and mister Stephen King. My mom had (and has) every book he’s ever written. At an early age (elementary school), she let us each pick one to read. If we came across a word we didn’t understand, we’d just look it up. Never could hunt down that oh-so-frequent “fuck” word. I just assumed it was some uncommon, yet commonly used sentence enhancer. I picked Pet Semetary and Sylv picked Cujo. Stephen King has a beautiful way of adding humour to his work. It always seemed natural to us and that would be where we began to develop it.
Hellbound Heart: Female filmmakers are still a minority in the scene, although -as I can attest – female horror fandom seems to be on the rise, with more and more women represented in festivals and screenings, and things do seem to be changing, as both fans and filmmakers, do you think the horror/indie scene has been welcoming? Do you think you have faced any particular issues?
Sylvia: Going into making Dead Hooker in a Trunk, we knew that we would have to have craziness to get people interested. The title alone has gotten people fascinated in the film, but has also had people get instantly turned off from the film. The horror community has been very welcoming to us and Dead Hooker in a Trunk. Once we actually finished the film and started showing it to people, everyone had really nice things to say. Before the film was finished we had a lot of locals calling the film and our ambition too ambitious and crazy. I had a well-known actor turned teacher call storm off set and call me a cunt because I wouldn’t give in to his temper tantrum during the fake trailer and he still does today. You have to look at things like that as sad. Enemies are a waste of time and effort.
Jen: We’ve really been embraced by the horror community. Perhaps we’re just fortunate or all the cruelty is done behind our backs. I’m really grateful to the horror community for their support of us and our work.
I still think that we do have a ways to go in the way of the work. Simply because a film is made by a woman we shouldn’t think it’s wonderful or crap. We should let the work speak for itself. If a man makes a movie and its shit, everyone jumps on him. I’ve seen women make crap and have their work protected because it was apparently some great accomplishment that the poor dear even tried. Now, don’t get me wrong. I have a great deal of respect for any man or woman who has the balls to go out and make a film. It’s rough and you deserve a lot of credit for pulling it off. However, I’m a feminist who believes women shouldn’t be cut breaks because of their gender. Even if it’s positive, it’s still sexist. I think men and women should be treated as equals [Amen to that! - K]. Besides, it toughens women up. And you need to be tough in this business. You ever read the Preacher comics? There’s a bit Sylv loves where one of the badasses are talking about terrorist situations and he says kill the women first. Because if a woman is standing among those men, she’s not only worked every bit as hard as them to prove she deserves to be there, she’s blown away her male competition and she is truly a threat to be reckoned with.
Hellbound Heart: Okay, some more light-hearted questions for you both – I’d like to ask, what films have you been enjoying lately?
Sylvia: I recently saw Martyrs and it rocked my little horror nerd world. It was beautiful and disturbing and epic. Every fan boy and girl should check it out. I have a huge respect and admiration for Asian horror – like Suicide Club, Machine Girl and Old Boy. We have this ritual where we go to our local indie movie rental place and we each grab a movie that looks cool from their horror section.
Jen: We LOVE going to out and renting three movies and then randomly watching them all in one night. I’m proud to say we watch something new pretty much every day. I rented Happiness Of The Katakuris recently on the recommendation of female femme fatale film maker and friend, Marichelle Daywalt. I adore Takashi Miike and musicals so when she told me he made a musical and intentionally cast actors that couldn’t sing, I was hooked. We saw Inside recently. I loved it. Aside from the cat violence. I hate cat violence. We saw Inception in the theatres with Daxflame (if you don’t know who he is, check him out!) It was visually magnificent. I’m a big fan of practical effects. We saw Deep Red, which was rad. I forced Sylv and CJ to watch Psycho Beach Party with me because it had a Buffy cast member in it. It was pretty brutal.
Hellbound Heart: What are/is your favourite…
Sylvia: American Psycho is my absolute favourite for witty satire and sexy horror and it was directed by the incredible Mary Harron. I also love Suicide Club, Audition, The El Mariachi Trilogy, Twins, The People Versus Larry Flynt, The Classic, and Ghostbusters.
Jen: American Psycho. Sylvie and I quote that movie all the time. I’ll sit down with her after going to piss and say, “they don’t have a good bathroom to do coke in” or “there are no girls with good personalities” and high five her. God, we love that movie. I love Twins (no shit, right?), Memoirs of a Geisha (on the inside, I AM Japanese), Jurassic Park (in a cheesy way, I love having “quote competitions” and am currently undefeated), State and Main, Suicide Club, Bringing Up Baby, The Good The Bad And The Ugly, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit? I’m also a big Joss Whedon fan and have been in love with Dr Horrible and his Musical Blog.
Hellbound Heart: Music?
Sylvia: There’s this rad indie band called The Antlers that has a wicked song called ‘Sylvia’. I’m not just being narcissistic, their whole album is great. I also like The All-American Rejects, She Wants Revenge, Chris Issac, and Jay Z. I like a variety of music.
Jen: I adore movie soundtracks. I really like Danny Elfman. I love 80s music, Rolly Teranishi, Queen, Fiona Apple, The Moody Blues, Rammstein, Glee, all sorts of weird stuff that doesn’t seem to go together, ha!
Hellbound Heart: Food?
Sylvia: I love Hungarian food like any good Hungarian girl. Spicy food rocks, but I’m also a dedicated fan of Burger King’s Whopper.
Jen: Sushi! Good God, I love sushi. Yam tempura, Salmon and Tuna sashimi, I’m salivating as I write this…
Hellbound Heart: Drink?
Sylvia: I live off of energy drinks – Redbull, Rockstar, and 5-Hour Energy are great. Coca Cola is my favourite pop and Malibu Coconut Rum is my favorite big-girl drink.
Jen: Jack Daniels. Single or double shot and don’t you dare put it on ice.
Hellbound Heart: Locations?
Sylvia: I really would like to travel more. I love my hometown, Vancouver, it’s beautiful – mostly when we get a break from the lovely rain. We’ve been going to California a lot lately and I would love to move down there in the next couple of years. It’s got such a history to it and some incredibly interesting and entertaining people live there.
Jen: I love Vancouver. It’s my home and it’s absolutely beautiful. I love it here. I’ve always wanted to visit New York (for comic book nerd reasons), Egypt (because it’s always interested me), and, more than any other, Japan. I’ll be so happy the day I finally get to go.
Hellbound Heart: Who are your role models?
Sylvia: I have also wanted to meet Robert Rodriguez – his book and films have had a huge impact on our lives. I really admire Vincent Price’s work and contribution to horror – he made it so interesting and classy. Mary Harron made my all-time favorite movie and she had to deal with a lot of shit for the subject matter, but despite the controversy made a smart, edgy piece that is still hip today.
Jen: Sue Sylvester.
Hellbound Heart: Steve asked me to ask you both for nude photographs. My question therefore is, how do you think Steve should be killed?
Sylvia: There’s a saying if men misbehave with women they get a daughter and if they are really bad – they get twins. Tread carefully, Steve. And please name them Jen and Sylvia. I read that there was this little boy fucking around in his bunk bed who tripped and fell out. The real zinger is that his dick got caught on a hook and he hung there until it the weight of his body made it rip clean off. I could always get a hook.
Jen: I had a morbid friend in high school that was always thinking up ways to commit suicide or kill people. To my knowledge, he never did either. One method has been stuck with me. I know nothing about chemistry like he did so bare with me. It was something like this… Drug your victim and put him in a metal bathtub tied and holding a rope. The rope is connected to a bucket over the tub that keeps it from tipping into the tub. In the tub is part of a solution for a highly concentrated acid. The missing ingredient is in the bucket. As the drugs kick in, the victim loses his ability to hold onto the rope. The bucket tips, the victim melts, and Steve learns to be careful what he asks for
Hellbound Heart: What are you girls working on at the moment; what are your future plans?
Sylvia: We have a screening in Vancouver of the final cut of Hooker in the next two weeks that we are organizing as a thank you to everyone who locally supported and pimped the film. As an added bonus, we are showing a teaser which is the first glimpse to our future project, ‘American Mary.’ We’re filming this week – we have a wonderful actress and great prosthetic team to make something weird and memorable. We’ll have it up on the site after the screening on August 13th.
Jen: The screening is our current obsession. We want to thank our town and fans for all their support of us and the film by giving them a night they’ll never forget!
Hellbound Heart: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Sylvia: Thank you very kindly for talking with us. With an independent project like Dead Hooker in a Trunk, we don’t have the kind of money to promote the film with commercials, billboards, or magazine advertisements, but through interviews like this, people reviewing the film, people requesting it in their towns, people telling their friends about it – it gives the film this life that it could never have without the support. This was a totally fun interview to be a part of, so a big thank you to you. Also, if you are reading this and want to see the movie send us a message through our website -http://www.twistedtwinsproductions.net and we’ll do our best to get it to a screening near you!
Jen: Thank you so much for your time! It has been a pleasure!
You can find out more about The Soska Sisters and Dead Hooker in a Trunk at the following links:
All photos used with kind permission of Jen and Sylvia Soska
Twin sisters Jen and Sylvia Soska are a force to be reckoned with: they have recently written, directed, starred in and edited their outrageous feature-length movie Dead Hooker In a Trunk – and they ain’t done yet, as they’re touring the film on the festival circuit as well as getting new indie projects underway. The girls took some time out to chat to Hellbound Heart for Horror Extreme…
Hellbound Heart: Hi Jen, hi Sylvia – thank-you for taking the time to talk to us!
Jen: Thank you for talking to us.
Sylvia: We like talking.
Hellbound Heart: I want to start by asking you a little about your background. Obviously it’s unusual to have sisters, let alone twin sisters, who are so driven to work within the indie film scene. What were you into as kids, and did you always know what you wanted to do?
Sylvia: I was really into bugs, horror, video games, and comics. We were always fascinated with movies, but horror movies always had this weird draw. When we were really little, Jen and I would hang out in the horror section of the video store and check out the back of the movie cases for best gore or scariest looking thing. Then we’d find some awful treasure and beg our mom to rent it for us. She and our dad have always been really supportive of anything we’re into, so my mom made a horror rule. She said if we read the book first, then we could see the movie. Maybe because she’s a fan or maybe because she is like the coolest mom on the face of the planet, she loaned us her massive Stephen King collection to read.
Jen: I was a bit of a geek when I was little. We’d be lying if we said we weren’t and aren’t still to this day. Big comic nerds – we’d watch all the cartoons and read the comics and when there weren’t any new stories we’d talk to each other about what the characters might do next. Maybe Spider-Man is going to run into Venom and they’ll have to team up?
I think we always knew we would end up doing something creative and, with us being identical twins that are best friends, we knew it would be something where we could work together.
Hellbound Heart: I had the pleasure to see your first feature-length film – the madcap, grindhouse-flavoured Dead Hooker in a Trunk – at the Ghouls on Film event this year in Birmingham, UK. Firstly, congratulations on your film! How has the film been doing?
Sylvia: Thank you so much! The Ghouls on Film event was gracious enough to invite us to be on the bill during last February’s Women in Horror Month. A big thank you to Nia-Edwards Behi, who was kind enough to have our Hooker at the party. It’s a big year for Dead Hooker, she’s been going from festival to festival around the world and she’s been getting lots of good responses.
Jen: She just played at the Viscera Film Festival – the trailer – and Bleedfest – the feature – in LA a couple of weeks ago. She won an award at Viscera and won three awards at Pollygrind – Audience Choice, Best Screenplay, and Everette Hartsoe’s Badgirl Award which was given to Sylvie and me.
It’s so rewarding to have so many people enjoying the film like they have. When you make a movie you never know what’s going to happen when it goes out there and what people are going to say. We have really awesome supporters; they’ve given this huge life to the film.
Hellbound Heart: How did you come up with the idea for DHIAT, and what was your experience of seeing the project through, from the writing stage to completion? Tell us about your inspiration, and then moving into casting and shooting…
Sylvia: The whole thing came about while we were going to film school. It was a new, not very organized school and, although it managed to hire some of the most talented people in the industry to teach, they did a lot of questionable things. Our final project’s budget ($200) was cancelled and we were told to just merge with another group. We thought it was complete bullshit. Tarantino and Rodriguez’s Grindhouse was in theatres at the time and we had been seeing it a lot. We walked out of the screening talking about the fake trailers and Jen said, that’s what we should do – we should make a fake trailer and call it ‘Dead Hooker in a Trunk’.
Before we knew it we were throwing ideas for the trailer back and forth. There was a list at the school of all material that was considered too offensive to be in any of the student’s projects, so we decided to throw all of them in and a few that they forgot for good measure. We wanted to create something that was fun to watch.
Jen: We had the title before anything else, then we came up with the scenes that we would want to see in a movie. We created four stereotype girls – we wanted our movie to be the anti-chick flick road trip movie. We gave them stereotypical names instead of real names – Badass, Geek, Junkie, and Goody Two-Shoes. We had a scene of them finding the hooker, then all sorts of crazy shit that could happen after that.
We put in a big action sequence since the draw of ‘stunt acting for film’ was the course that got us to enrol in the school. We had just finished two years of intensive martial arts training and were ready to kick some butt. We shot a few cool scenes, cut them together trailer style, and presented it at graduation as our individual work. The reaction was insane – half the room got up and left while the other half was cheering so loud that you could barely hear it. We knew we had something special then, so our make-up artist, Maryann Van Graven, and our editor, Loyd Bateman (our stunts instructor, Lauro Chartrand, had introduced us to Loyd to help us pull off the trailer) were on board for the feature.
Sylvia: We thought a lot more people would be available from the fake trailer, but there were other commitments, scheduling conflicts, and lack of interest. There were so many people saying that we ‘couldn’t just make a movie’, that we had to do things ‘properly.’ But the naysayers couldn’t stop our crazy little plan. We had Robert Rodriguez’s book ‘Rebel Without A Crew’ which chronicles how he made his first feature – ‘El Mariachi’. We felt so inspired and excited. We took his advice through the entire book. We wrote our big scenes down on cue cards and moved the order around to make the film’s sequence.
Jen: Once we figured out what was going where, we picked scenes. Each of us had particular scenes that we were excited to write and we decided we would share the outline. That said, if either of us ever hit writer’s block we’d tag in the other twin. It was and is really fun writing together. There are stressful bits, but it’s really cool to write with someone who thinks like you and can understanding what you were getting at or trying to say in different scenes.
Sylvia: Then came casting. We had a few people still interested, but things kept falling through. I had people flat out refuse because they felt the script was too edgy or offensive. There’s nothing as awkward as someone reading your dialogue – ‘Have you ever been skull fucked after an ass rape’, and then looking over at you, the writer, in disgust. Now that line might seem a little extreme, but we try to do everything with a tongue-in-cheek, good humoured sort of way.
We found some excellent talent for the film – John Tench would be our Cowboy Pimp, Tasha Moth would be our Hooker, Loyd Bateman would act in the film as would many friends we had from growing up trying to get work in the film and television industry. During shooting, our new Junkie had a previous commitment and couldn’t stay involved in the film. We hired Rikki Gagne to take her place. Two days before our first day of shooting, our Goody Two-Shoes dropped out. She didn’t want us to be upset by telling us earlier. We were pretty fucked. We called around and couldn’t find a girl to replace her.
At that time, I was hanging out with CJ Wallis who brought me to see some of the short films he had done. He had a small cameo in one that embodied exactly what I wanted Goody to be. I asked him if he would be in our film and he said yes. I went home with Jen and we wrote the entire thing that night with Goody as a boy.
Jen: I’m glad that it worked out that way because he is just wonderful in the film and I couldn’t imagine the film without a male Goody. He is the perfect devil’s advocate to all the crazy women characters. The cast that we did end with was great. A lot of them had stunt backgrounds which was important because we wanted to have a lot of action in the film and we wanted actors who could do their own stunt work. Sylv’s character, Badass, was involved in almost every action sequence in the film. We had a double, Maja Stace-Smith, for her for the big showdown between her and the Cowboy Pimp. There is a horse drag in that scene and when we shot it for the fake trailer, she got cut up really bad and our stunt coordinator, Loyd, didn’t want to take the risk. That said, she’s really proud of those scars.
Sylvia: I think Jen had fun writing insane things to have happen to Badass just to see me have to do it. When we made up Geek and Badass, we discussed who should be who. Jen said that I should be Badass because I’ve never had the chance to play the tough girl before. She would be Geek, which was kind of a homage to the cute little nerds we were when we were younger. She was just a tad geekier than me. Still is. Damn cool Jen.
Jen: To pay for everything, we maxed out our credit cards on movie costs. Loyd had his own camera, but we had to rent everything else. We had wireless mics that were a fifty/fifty chance that they would work. There was a real indie feel to the whole thing, though. Actors would act as crew. We would be the first to come in and set up everything, then be the last to leave after cleaning up our bloody mess. It was such a cool group of people to work with. We shot in each other’s houses, used our own animals, kids, clothes, and other friends’ homes to create this project. We shot in back roads, parks, and parking lots. We asked two local bars if we could shoot in them and they let us for free. Despite a few problems, we felt like the production was blessed.
We even got into contact with the ‘El Mariachi’, Carlos Gallardo, who agreed to a well-deserved cameo as God. There were a lot of sleepless days and nights, long days, unexpected costs that would clean us out, not being able to afford food, stacking up bills, but to be honest, we would do it all over again in a heart beat. There are things that you can only learn when you are working on your own film. Rodriguez said in his book you have to think creatively on your feet to fix problems when making your own movies because you can’t just throw money at the problem to fix it. We learned so much fast thinking on set.
Sylvia: Our biggest ambition was to create a movie that had that sense of fun and excitement like the original grindhouse movies. Hooker had to have blood and guts, wild stunts, crazy characters, good humour (or at least our fucked up sense of humour), and some heart. To keep it as indie as possible, we contacted some of the most talented musicians in the Vancouver scene – Fake Shark- Real Zombie!, Incura, The Awkward Stage, The Stalls, our own overly skilled CJ Wallis composed much of the music that you hear in the film, Adam Nanji, and (for Japanese punk) we found the Titan Go-Kings for our Triad scene. We tried to get a song from our childhood favourite band, The Moody Blues, but their record label passed on us. It’s ok, we’ll be back. Maybe even with money next time. Ha ha!
Hellbound Heart: You had a shoestring budget for the film – how did you finance the film, and how did you make a little go such a long way? It really didn’t feel like you’d skimped on what you wanted to do…
Sylvia: We maxed out our credit cards. We have an impressive debt. There were a lot of unexpected costs – equipment needed to be replaced, things turning out pricier than we were quoted, and other random troubleshooting. Loyd took care of some of the costs for us, but by the end of the shoot we were so broke, not eating, being buried alive by bills (a lot coming from spending all our time working on the film with no income) when our key makeup artist, Maryann, and her husband, Don, came forward to offer us some money to help us get out of trouble and have some money to take care of expenses while we finished the film in post. Then our parents took us out to dinner to give us a check to help us be able to stay home and finish the film. So, we gladly welcomed Maryann Van Graven, Donald Charge, and Agnes and Marius Soska to our producer team. They saw how much shit we got ourselves in and selflessly wanted to help us and the film – I’ll never forget their kindness.
There were a couple things that we wanted in the film, but just couldn’t arrange on our budget. We wanted Badass to punch out a bear and say ‘Fuck you, bear!’ We also wanted an explosion. In ‘Rebel Without A Crew’, Rodriguez mentions how badly we wanted to put an explosion in ‘El Mariachi’ – it made me want a big one too!
Jen: We always felt, as weird as this sounds, that some greater power was looking after us. Y’know how in Blues Brothers Jake and Elwood were on a mission from God? DHIAT just had to be made. We were very fortunate that the Writers Strike happened. A lot of extremely talented and usually very busy people suddenly became free. Indefinitely. No one knew how long it would take to resolve and it freed up lots of very amazing people. Some of our crew that usually wouldn’t have ever been able to help out suddenly lost their creative venues and were available and very interested in donating their time to our cause. We were blessed.
Hellbound Heart: You mentioned that you decided to use ‘˜types’ rather than named characters in the film, and you obviously enjoy playing around a bit with the sorts of stereotypes you get in underground films – did you have any sort of precedent in mind for this, and do you think the types of role each of you play reflect anything about you in real life?
Sylvia: Jen and I watch so many movies. We’re like cinema junkies. When you watch a lot of films you start to notice certain similarities, certain types of characters that show up. We thought of our favourite stereotypes – Badass, Geek, Junkie, and Goody Two-Shoes for the leads. The Hooker was just called Hooker. We got so into this simplicity as a starting point for the characters that we ended up giving everyone a descriptive name, like Cowboy Pimp, Weirdo, Killer, and God. The only character in the film with a ‘normal’ name is the Hooker’s dog, Billy.
As for real life comparisons, I think I have a little of Badass and Geek in me. A lot of Geek – I’m a die-hard nerd, geek and damn proud of it. I’ve had an ongoing relationship with Spider-Man since I was nine years old – we are still good friends to this day. I have a little Badass in me, I’m very protective of my friends and mix that with a sometimes fiery, European temper – I can be a real one. But I don’t know if anyone can actually be like Badass in real life. I played her and I still watch the movie and think how cool it must be to be her.
Jen: We really wanted the film to be epic. Larger than life. You ever watch a movie and not get a character’s name and end up describing the film to your friends saying, “Then the bad guy did this” or “The detective goes and does that”? We wanted the characters of our characters to be so legendary, for lack of a better word, that the word be their stereotypes. We wanted Badass to be the toughest, baddest, take-no-shit bitch you’d ever seen and so on. We felt that not giving them “real names” helped with that.
I guess everyone has a little Geek and Badass in them. Heck, everyone has a little Goody, Junkie, and Hooker in them, too. I’ve always been a nerd at heart. I love comics, video games, TV, and film. I get giddy when a new Metal Gear, Silent Hill, or Final Fantasy comes out. I dream of meeting Stan Lee. However, I have a rare condition I’ve lovingly dubbed “bitch face”. If I’m not trying to look happy or smile, I look pissed off. I often get people asking, “Jen, why are you so mad?” or “What’s wrong?”, but then I just explain my medical condition. I may look like a bitch, but I’m actually very sweet. That being said, I do have an extensive weapons collection and can skilfully use everything I own. Shucks, I had to learn to be a badass if I ever wanted to seduce Daredevil. I’m very adept with Sais. And, sadly, reading Braille.
PART 2 COMING SOON….
You can find out more about The Soska Sisters and Dead Hooker in a Trunk at the following links:
All photos used with kind permission of Jen and Sylvia Soska