Twisted Twins: An Interview with Dead Hooker in a Trunk Creators Jen and Sylvia Soska


Jen and Sylvia Soska, the Twisted Twins as they’ve come to be known, are two of the cult film world’s newest star filmmakers. Their 2009 surprise hit, Dead Hooker in a Trunk, accumulated so much buzz on the film festival circuit that if you’ve recently been a horror or exploitation film fan, there’s no doubt you have been trying to find a way to see it.

When I first heard the film title I was floored. I started researching all the details about the no-budget film and the wickedly devious duo behind it. When they signed a VOD deal in August through IFC, I went home from work and ordered it immediately. After sending out a Tweet to my meager list of followers about how I finally got to see Dead Hooker in a Trunk, I was amazed to see a response reading: “We’re so happy that you dug the flick! Thank you for checking out our #deadhookerinatrunk.” I couldn’t believe how approachable they were. But in the months after as I would routinely be notified of Friday Follows and plugs to my own blog and YouTube channel from the Twisted Twins, I realized that this is the type of people they are. They care about their work and the people that enjoy it. And since they’re still closely attached to the struggles of starting out as a filmmaker, they do everything they can to lend advice or help out their fellow dreamers. I favorite’d that first Tweet from those hardcore stunt twins and took every opportunity to tell friends about their film.

Recently, I sent the Soska sisters an email requesting a small interview. I laid out a few questions I had on my mind that were different than all the other interview topics I’ve read from them. I was shocked to see a reply email from Jen and Sylv just a few hours later at 2:30 in the morning. They answered all of my questions in no time. I thought it was the coolest thing in the world for them to be so accommodating. They’re a class act. And that only makes the debauchery in their films all the more enjoyable.

Here is the outcome of that email:

You go above and beyond for your fans. For example, you diligently interact with fans via your Twitter account and I recently noticed that you’re offering free autographs on DVD copies of DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK. How important is it for you to stay close with your fan base?

SYLVIA SOSKA: That’s so kind of you to say. Being good to the people that have been so good to us is extremely important. It’s because people in the horror community got behind this film, screened it, shared it with their friends, played it at their festivals, blogged about it, did fan art, and wouldn’t stop promoting it that we were able to be so successful with DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK. There are a lot of independent films out there that have much bigger budgets, stars, and all those bells and whistles – we are horror fans just like the people who have stood by us and wanted to make a movie that we would like to see. Awesomely enough, other people really dug it too. The fans are so incredible. We got banned from a theatre in Saskatoon, Canada, based on our title (they never even bothered to watch the film) and we had people from around the world fighting censorship and arguing for our right to be screened. I’m extremely humbled by the outpour of kindness. It means a lot to me.

We’ve had people buying the DVD and asking if we would sign them. You buy my movie and make it so I can live my dream job and ask me if I’d sign it. Fucking rights I’ll sign that. I will never forget the people who have gotten me to this point. I fucking adore these people and my thank you to them (because words seem too small) is keep making weird, unique, and unforgettable films. After all, they are the ones making it possible.

JEN SOSKA: I can’t even begin to say how grateful I am to the horror fans who have supported us and our work. DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK is getting its world wide release (it’s already out in the UK and Australia thanks to Monster Pictures) on January 31st, but so many people know about it, have hunted it down, or voyaged out to film festivals and screenings just to catch a glimpse at it. I know people have even purchased multi-region DVD players just so that they can see the film. It’s unheard of. People have really gone above and beyond to help us get the word out about the film and you know what? They sure as hell did. By the time it came to sell the film, even the big studios had heard about it.

I first and foremost consider myself a horror fan. I love horror and always have. It’s hard to believe we have fans. I consider them more like friends than fans. We make the films we want to see and it’s amazing that there are so many people out there that dig what we do. I think horror fans have been insulted long enough with cheap thrills, piss poor formulas, and tired remakes and sequels. If someone emails us and tells us that they love what we do, or that they just checked out DHIAT, or that we’ve inspired them to do something they were afraid to try we sure as hell get back to them. They support us and we support them. We couldn’t do what we do without them. And they’ve been just so damn good to us. I can’t stand when artists treat their fan base shitty. Those people don’t deserve their fans. I’ve seen way too much of that bullshit.

I also blame Robert Rodriguez and Carlos Gallardo. They go out and tell their fans to follow their dreams. Robert goes out of his way to give up his tricks in his Ten Minute Film Schools. Carlos has been so kind to us and even played God in DHIAT. What an honor!

If you could’ve had some extra cash for one scene in DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK, what would you have done?

SS: I would have paid the people who came out. Even if I had more money on AMERICAN MARY, I would have paid people more. The teams we work with are people who love the projects we are creating as much as us and those are the people who kill themselves for the film, take huge cuts or make nothing to see it get made, and are the true artists on the planet. It’s because these people make up our teams that we get the film that we set out to make every time.

JS: I would have REALLY liked to put an explosion in there. I don’t know where, but I can assure you it would have been somewhere utterly ridiculous and completely unlikely. Explosions are just one of the few things in life you have to pay for or you risk landing yourself some jail time. No amount of tank tops, hair flicking, or acting confused could get you out of that one.

AMERICAN MARY looks very dark in its material. DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK was certainly demented but its wit balanced it out. Can we expect that similar sense of Soska humor in Mary or are audiences in for a surprise?

SS: Audiences are definitely in for some pretty fucking huge surprises with AMERICAN MARY, but there will still be humor there. Jen and I have a weird, dark sense of humor and that makes its way into every project we do. There is a big part of ourselves in everything we do, if it’s not honest, then you don’t have the potential to make good work. The script came from a conversation with Eli Roth after DHIAT, when he asked what other scripts we had, if there was anything that was more ‘straight forward’ horror than DHIAT was. At the time we didn’t have anything, so we lied. We pitched a few ideas we thought that we could make work and he said that the doctor one sounded cool. We said we needed a couple weeks to just go over it to make sure it was polished and wrote the script in that time. We’ve put a lot of work into it since then, and we’ve come clean to Eli about our fib. But the script exists and now the film because of that. I really can’t wait to share the new film – I’m so proud of it and the team that made it happen.

JS: Our earliest experiences with horror were reading Stephen King novels in Elementary School. If you’re familiar with Mr. King, you know he’s got this outstanding sense of humor. He can have you on the edge of your seat in one moment, just racing through every page to see what happens next, and then he can have you laughing out loud like a weirdo reading a Stephen King novel and laughing. It was our introduction into horror and we came to feel that the best horror went hand in hand with humor. It might seem unusual, but for anything else would feel unnatural. Horror makes us squeal with delight and joy and I don’t think we’re the only ones.

When we were making DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK, we thought we were making a dark comedy. Albeit our sense of humor is a little darker than most, but it’s still just a laugh. Just as surely as anything we ever do, regardless of genre, will have aspects of horror in it (as well as stellar prosthetics and stunt work), it’ll also have comedy. We’re sick fucks and have a sick sense of humor. It’s incurable. As far as AMERICAN MARY goes, there is humor there. There’s funny humor and I-am-revealing-myself-to-be-a-sick-fuck-by-being-one-of-the-five-people-laughing-right-now humor. We actually just sat and watched our first assembly of the film today and went through a range of emotion. There was certainly laughter. I can’t wait to hear the first laugh the very first time we screen the film. It’s an incredible feeling.

You seem to have had some falling outs with the film school you attended, (i.e. having your student project funding pulled at last minute). Would you recommend film school to aspiring film makers or do you believe the on-the-job experience is more beneficial?

SS: I’m sure that there could potentially be film schools that really benefit people. The two week outsourced portion of ours that was taught by Lauro ‘Lash’ Chartrandwas incredible and taught us so much about stunts and stunt work, we’ve gone on to collaborate together and Lauro has always been there encouraging us to follow our dreams – no matter how insanely ambitious. That was invaluable. The rest of the ‘school’ was an outfit, like so many in this industry, that preys on people who want to work in the industry and just take their money and give them nothing. There’s thousands of these despicable, greed-driven scams out there and partially shame on us for getting duped. On the plus side, our DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK fake trailer that we made on our own when they pulled the funding for our final project and screened at the end of graduation was the perfect final ‘fuck you’ to those assholes. Everyone in this world teaches you something, even the monsters teach you to be fearless and stand up to them. It ended with us actually having a career in film in spite of them.

That isn’t a common story, though, and usually you just get your time wasted and money taken away. I would suggest learning from the directors and filmmakers that truly inspire you. There are DVD commentaries, online clips, some people even run their own sites and will talk to you about their experiences. You can learn on your own without going to a film school and the lessons you learn while making your own flick are way more beneficial than anything you will ever learn in a school. If you want to make movies, go out and make them. Be creative, write high production value elements that you know you can get for cheap or free and put everything you have into it. Work your ass off. Make something unique that means something to you. If you do that, then you will be successful.
JS: ha ha, we’re clearly not fans of film school. Quentin Tarantino says it’s a waste of time and the experience you gain on set is invaluable. Go out and make a film of your own and you get everything you get from film school PLUS you have a film of your own at the end of it. Kevin Smith got a student loan for film school and then spent that money on a film of his own. I don’t like film school. I will say it is good for networking, but so is Twitter, Facebook, film festivals, conventions, seminars, screenings, parties, and pretty much any time you leave the house or plant your ass in front of the computer. I think things are changing in the ways of education. Even in high school I was bored shitless. Everyone learns in their own way, at their own pace. You can literally type any question into Google and find dozens of answers. You want knowledge, seek it. I highly recommend going out and making a film of your own. You can just learn so damn much and the experiences and challenges you face in reality can never be simulated in film school the same way. And film school is so fucking expensive and who has money to blow on “maybe this’ll help my career” with the current state of the economy. Be smarter than that. You’ll find allies and people like you who love film and have a passion for it.

Be brave and go out and do it. We did, Rodriguez did before us, and pretty much every director whose work we all love did. If we can do it, you can.

BE SURE TO PRE ORDER YOUR COPY OF DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK TODAY FROM AMAZON! OFFICALLY RELEASED TO DVD ON JANUARY 31ST, 2012!

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