To borrow a line from Sylvia Soska, I am literally a frothing at the mouth fan boy.
It's not every day that BVB: Blood Violence and Babes gets to talk to not one, but two, of our Bucket List movie icons. In fact, it's happened just twice before in six years.
But with the release of “Vendetta,” a balls-out, bloody prison revenge thriller, I had just that - the opportunity to talk by phone to Sylvia Soska and her twin sister Jen. That's right, the Twisted Twins, the dynamic writing and directing duo responsible for “Dead Hooker in a Trunk,” “See No Evil 2” and their masterpiece (thus far), “American Mary.”
The Soska sisters are exactly as you would hope them to be. They're hysterical and bawdy and love dropping F-bombs as they talk about everything from their love of comic books and professional wrestling to wish-listing horror icons such as Bruce Campbell and Jeffrey Combs for their future, feature films.
Did I mention that Sylvia ended our too-brief chat by professing her love to me?
I'm just going to let you read our amazing conversation. Don't mind me. I'll be over here, off to the side, like a moon-eyed kid whose girl crush actually acknowledged him, blasting some Fake Shark - Real Zombie! and dusting off my VHS copy of “Re-Animator.”
BVB: First off, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me. I cannot tell you how excited I am to talk to you guys because I have been a fan ever since “Dead Hooker in a Trunk,” and “American Mary” is one of my all-time favorite genre films. It is just a masterpiece. It's so good.
Jen Soska: Oh, thank you so much!
BVB: You're welcome. This is my honor. This is just incredible. I was so happy I got a chance to watch “Vendetta” last night because I wasn't sure if I would get to see it before talking to you, and I really, really enjoyed it. I thought it was great. It's not what you would expect from you guys but it was, it was really good.
Sylvia Soska: Thank you so much. When Michael Luisi, the head of WWE Studios, said he was going to have us doing a men's prison revenge film, people were like 'You're having the Soskas do it?' I think “American Mary's” message was so loud that people were like, 'Oh, why would they do anything other than that?' I think they forget we're the same directors that also made “Dead Hooker in a Trunk.”
JS: This shoot was very similar to “Dead Hooker” because it's out of (bleeping) nowhere and it's extreme violence.
BVB: Oh my God, that was the thing that I really liked. In the 1980s and '90s, you had this trend where big-name action stars like Stallone and Van Damme, they would inevitably end up in prison for a movie and it also was inevitably really lame and here you guys come and not only is it really, really bloody, and really dark in places, but you had Dean Cain and you guys turned Dean Cain into a bad ass, which was amazing.
SS: (Laughing) The thing is, Dean Cain is an insane bad ass. After he had a 12-hour day doing those fights, every day, he would go to the gym with a stunt guy and work on the next fight and he would just be working out like crazy. I mean, you literally have to be Superman, because I would (bleeping) die if I had your schedule right now.
JS: Secretly, Dean Cain is actually a mother-(bleeping) bad ass. He smiles and he winks and he just charms the pants off everyone, man, woman and animal alike.
BVB: (Laughing) He had the most crazed look throughout the second half of “Vendetta.” It was just, it was perfect. I was sitting there and I was thinking that you guys actually managed the Tarantino Effect when he put Travolta in “Pulp Fiction” and everyone was like, 'Oh my God, John Travolta.” We remembered he is a great actor. And poor Dean Cain, he's been doing Lifetime movies and things like that and then all of a sudden he gets a chance to shine and you just really let him have a wonderful showcase. It was great.
SS: Thank you so much for saying that. I'm all teared up. That was exactly what we were hoping for. The thing with Dean and all those Lifetime movies is that Dean is like Michael Caine. He just always works. He always does a great job. As long as he likes the script, he will do it. He has a family so he does a lot of family movies, but he was really excited to do something this dark. That line where he says “Wrong (bleeping) answer,” that was all Dean. Dean was so into this character. We were kind of channeling Garth Ennis' “Punisher” throughout the whole thing and we had a lot of Tim Bradstreet's artwork and we were, 'This is what you're going to be, Dean,' and he was so into it. He even had a Punisher t-shirt the last day we filmed. I was like, he has finally become The Punisher.
BVB: (Laughing) That's awesome. How did you guys - this is the second film with WWE Films - how did you connect?
JS: Funny story, we were actually the biggest WWE - back in the day when it was WWF - fans. One night I was just channel surfing and I saw this dark god and it was The Undertaker, of course. He wasn't even wrestling. He was just addressing the crowd, and I was like, 'Who is this?' We've always grown up on superheroes and comic books - I love comic books - so for us, watching WWE was like a superhero soap opera and so we were actually watching the year that not only did Lionsgate start up in Vancouver, our hometown - we were like, '(Bleep), I want to work for those guys one day.' You know, check (laughs) - but Kane was introduced that year and I think Kane's storyline was probably the greatest storyline ever. So for whatever reason, WWE saw “American Mary” and they approached us for “See No Evil 2.” I was like, 'Holy (crap).' When we did our phone interview, I was like, 'Thank you. I love the WWE. I wish you luck in your ventures.' Usually we just get interviewed for the female quota. I'm like, 'It's nice to be pitching for “Hellraiser,” it's a great honor. (Laughing)
SS: (Laughing) We've had such a great time working with them. I think every time they work with us, they're shocked at what frothing-at-the-mouth fan girls we are, because we'll come in and be like, 'Oh my God, did you see Raw? Is he actually injured or was that a different angle?' And they're like, 'I don't know, man, just make the movie.'
JS: And Undertaker is back on Raw. It used to be only on Wrestlemania! I can't (bleeping) believe it!
BVB: Yeah, he just showed up. Just like last week or something.
JS: It was yesterday! He showed up at a pay-per-view like totally unannounced and then I think this past Monday he was back on Raw and he was just beating the crap out of Brock Lesnar. Which is good because I was going to have to beat the crap out of Brock Lesnar!
BVB: (Laughing) Had you both seen the original “See No Evil” before getting approached for the sequel?
SS: Yeah, we saw it in theaters when it first came out and I loved it because I love anything to do with Kane, but it was such a B-schlock horror movie and for me, I was like, why are you putting high angles? You should have low angles. He's almost seven foot! Make him do more physical stuff. So obviously we had to make him (inaudible) through every door possible.
JS: We are the most annoying movie hecklers ever. We're like, 'The symmetry is off! Adjust your frame! There's no intention of your camera movement!'
BVB: (Laughing) I thought - when I saw “See No Evil 2,” whenever it was released on home video like six-eight months ago, and I had, like you, I had loved the original because I thought it was this unsuspecting, direct-to-DVD, well not direct to DVD, it was like in the slasher genre and I don't think a lot of people gave it the credit it deserved because it really was a brutal film. And when you guys got a hold of the sequel, you amped up the brutality and really did it justice. You made Kane, he was, he was just terrifying. And I thought that was so cool because I really liked the original but then you elevated it so much more in the sequel. I was like, oh my God, this is great. Now I want an action figure of Jacob Goodnight because he's so cool.
SS: Thank you so much! “Three No Evil,” that's the goal right now. Glenn (Glenn Thomas Jacobs, aka Kane) is actually in town shooting another movie and we had a breakfast with him and Kaj (Kaj-Erik Eriksen), who plays the other final boy, and we already have our ideas together. We're like, 'Just put us back in, Coach. I got another story for this!' Because “See No Evil 1” focused so much on his mother and then “See No Evil 2” was almost like a re-introduction to Jacob Goodnight. Now we just need a third one to really see him go out. There's a lot of questions we didn't answer in the second one because we wanted to leave something with all of the religious aspect to be answered in another movie. And of course there's nothing we love doing more than pissing people off, so with Katie and Danielle - Katie was mine, Danielle was Jen's - we were like, 'I am going to piss off everybody doing this.'
JS: I mean, we've killed Kathryn Isabelle twice and Danielle Harris once. Any Scream Queens out there - Sigourney Weaver, Jamie Lee Curtis - we'll kill you both, ladies!
BVB: (Laughing) I was so happy to see Kathryn Isabelle in “See No Evil 2,” and then to have her paired with Danielle Harris was like a fan boy dream come true because they are two legitimate scream queens who are amazing actresses, and in Danielle's case, now a director. Are there other genre icons that you guys haven't worked with that you want to work with?
SS: I've been after Bruce Campbell for a while now. I'll get him. I'll get him! We actually wanted to try and get him on “Vendetta,” but we couldn't make it work out. I'm going to keep circling that dude, except he's got his stupid show coming up, so he's really busy making all of our dreams come true with more “Evil Dead.”
JS: No bull (crap), Sigourney Weaver - I love Sigourney Weaver.
SS: Oh my God, I can't believe I forgot the man I'm in love with, Jeffrey Combs. I saw “Re-Animator” later on in life and actually I've done a lot of conventions with Jeffrey, but unfortunately now - and I hope he sees this so I can be so embarrassed - I'm in love with him now. I am so in love with him. I am a frothing at the mouth fan girl. I love “Re-Animator.” I want to do a “Re-Animator” TV series. And I guess the other icon I want to work with, he's going to be in our next film guaranteed, he's going to fly out and show up, is Lloyd Kaufman.
BVB: Oh, nice. Nice! I just watched a movie from 1987 that I had never seen before called “Cellar Dweller” - Scream Factory is putting it out in a week or two - and Jeffrey Combs is in the beginning and I had no idea, one, he's in the movie, but he was fantastic in it. It was early. He was much younger. I met him at a horror convention that they have over in Orlando every year, called um, oh God, now it's totally slipped my mind, but it's a horror convention in Orlando and I met him and I had just the best time talking to him because he kept stopping me so he could check out all the attractive women in cosplay, like walking around as female Freddy Krueger. He'd be like, 'Yeah, yeah, man, that's great but look at her! Look at her!' I was like, you are my idol.
SS: So the next time I see him, I'm just going to be in very skimpy cosplay. That will be the way to win his love.
BVB: (Laughing) Now do you guys enjoy directing material that you haven't written?
SS: I love it because at this point, so far, I've been very lucky so it's always been a very collaborative experience so we always have a jumping off point and we have some really great scripts. In this case (“Vendetta”), it was Justin Shady, a graphic novel artist, writer, so I knew our sensibilities were going to mix perfectly, especially since we wanted to make this kind of like a very gritty graphic novel style.
SS: I love making our own stuff, but at the same time, our stuff is like “American Mary,” it's so (bleeping) weird that people are like, 'I love this.' I'm like, 'Can we make it?' They're like, 'Nope.'
SS: Because “American Mary,” if anybody knows us, they say 'Oh, Dead Hooker, whatever, but have you seen American Mary?' Our fans that love “American Mary” are like “Breaking Bad” fans. You don't just like “American Mary,” you have (inaudible), you have “American Mary” carved into your forearm.
BVB: I know we're running out of time. I really wanted to ask because, in addition to being a big movie geek, I love music, and I get the sense that you both love music as well because the soundtracks for “American Mary” and also “Vendetta” are superb. They're so good. Like last night, I watched all the credits just to get to where it had the songs from “Vendetta” so I could take a picture with my cell phone and then go look them up on Spotify. How big of an influence is music on you and during the process? Are you guys involved with picking those songs?
SS: We are so hugely involved in all of them. Thank you so much for that compliment. A big, constant collaborator with us, we've never made a movie without Kevvy Mental and Fake Shark - Real Zombie!, and our upcoming movie “Plastic” has a huge emphasis on music although I've been gagged so I can't talk much more about it, except we will be shooting it right after we shoot “Hellevator,” but I feel music elevates your movie. It can bring it to a level that it wasn't necessarily at before. And that end of “Vendetta,” where Dean Cain goes, 'Hey warden, see you soon,' and then Kevvy's song “Zodiac” just kicks you in the (bleeping) bob and you're like, '(Bleep) yeah! Action movie!'
BVB: (Laughing) Exactly! It was so good. Thank you guys so much. You have literally just, you've helped me check something off my bucket list, having the chance to talk to you both, so thank you so much and I can't wait to see what you come out with next.
SS: Oh my God, thank you so much. The comments that you said, particularly the Tarantino-Travolta thing, has caused me to be in love with you. You're up there with Jeffery Combs.
BVB: Oh, I'm in good company then! Take care guys! I hope to talk to you again soon.
NOTE: "Vendetta" is available now for purchase on Blu-Ray, DVD and Digital HD streaming platforms.