Archive for Sylvia Soska

See No Evil 2 Trailer (2014)

Posted in Press Release with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 25, 2014 by Hayley's Horror Reviews


Forget 50 Shades of Grey, the first trailer for See No Evil 2 is now available online. Twisted Twins Jen and Sylvia Soska’s eagerly anticipated follow up to their 2012 hit American Mary looks set to be a crowd pleaser, full of dark humour,  tongue in cheek slasher references and entertaining performances with an equally grim tone. The film also marks their first collaboration with WWE, with wrestler Kane reprising his role as psycho killer Jacob Goodnight. This time round sees him terrorizing a group of unsuspecting medical students. A major highlight will be seeing Scream Queens Katharine Isabelle (American Mary, Ginger Snaps) and Danielle Harris (Halloween IV & V, Hatchet II & III) on screen together. Isabelle looks as if she’s set to bring in an entertaining and comedic performance while Harris proves why she plays the strong horror heroine incredibly well. October 17th sees the On Demand and Digital HD release while it will be available on Blu-Ray and DVD on the 21st according to Bloody DisgustingSee No Evil 2 looks a real treat for fans, and I’m sure Jen and Sylvia once again will show us why they’re growing icons of the genre.

Check out the trailer here:

Hear from the Twisted Twins themselves discussing the movie at the San Diego Comic Con, where they announce that See No Evil 2 contains a never before seen murder sequence in any movie!


Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

Women In Horror Month: Final Girls and Psychotic Women. (3-1)

Posted in Women in Horror Recognition Month with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 19, 2014 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Here is part five and the final piece of coverage celebrating the fifth annual Women in Horror Recognition Month. Earlier this month I began a countdown of who I consider to be the bravest final girls in horror as well as the most psychotic and deadly women. Narrowing it down out of a vast range of characters that have made an impact on our blood-splattered screens for decades has been tough and there’s plenty more I’d have liked to have included. A follow-up countdown next year may be a possibility. Now we’re onto the top three, it’s time to analyze my ultimate favorite genre women. The criteria set for these three is down to the impact they’ve had on the genre and on myself, their iconic status within Horror, how they’ve either set up recognizable tropes or challenged them and just for being downright awesome.


I want to thank everyone for their support in reading my work. For all the shares, likes, re-tweets and comments. Your feedback is always more than welcome and its always brilliant to speak to like-minded fans. Let me know if you agree or disagree with my choices. Who do YOU think should be THE Woman of Horror?

I’d also like to give a personal thank you to Hannah Neurotica who has set up this amazing cause to address the restrictions and prejudices that many women have faced in the industry and to celebrate a genre that has so many phenomenal female contributors. Let’s all keep raising awareness for Women in Horror Recognition Month. Long may it continue…!

WARNING: There will be Spoilers!!

3. Mary Mason, American Mary (2012)

  • Played By Katharine Isabelle
  • Written and Directed By Jen and Sylvia Soska.

amermary01  It shouldn’t come as a surprise that sadistic surgeon Mary Mason (Katharine Isabelle) slashed her way onto this list. Interestingly, she is the first character included in this countdown who has been written and directed by women, which to a degree emphasizes the lack of strong, iconic female characters written by women for women within the genre. But when Mary splattered onto the Horror scene back in 2012 she certainly made her mark as the fabulous filmmakers Jen and Sylvia Soska (aka. The Twisted Twins) worked incredibly hard to promote the film, generating plenty of interest via social media and the film wound up being one of the most ‘must-see’ events in the horror genre that year. It also resulted in major studio Universal acquiring the rights to the film making it’s female directors a modern day industry success story. The film itself actually laments the disheartening experiences the Soska’s went through as striving filmmakers echoing the negativity and sleaziness they encountered amongst the film system.

One of the most fascinating pieces of horror to emerge this decade, American Mary is a modern day Universal Monster in every sense of the word. She is a deeply complex character with so many layers its hard not to be compelled by her story arc within the film from promising medical student to rogue body modification surgeon to psychotic woman. Mary is the embodiment of a woman who can be both highly intelligent and sexy. With an array of stylish yet provocative outfits, Mary looks amazing whether she’s covered in blood in a PVC apron or in the designer green dress created for her by Ruby Realgirl (Paula Lindberg). She knows what she has to do in order to survive and is not to be crossed with as deadly consequences will arise. The majority of the time Mary is cool, calm and collected which is vital as she carries out some obscure and unconventional methods of surgery in order to either please her clients or torture her victims. When a horrific incident happens to her she takes matters into her own hands enlisting the help of smitten club owner Billy (Antonio Cupo) and gentle giant, bodyguard Lance (Twan Holliday) in order to act out her revenge.

A master at her craft, its evident she relishes in the work she does, which molds her into a creative, beautiful yet feared woman. The majority of the time Mary is sarcastic and deadpan which underlines her disillusion with her unfortunate experiences. Her relationships with the other characters in the film is interesting. She doesn’t quite let them in and deals with her problems mainly alone. Her quasi-friendship with Betty Boop lookalike Beatrice (Tristan Risk) is one of the film’s highlights, with contrasting personalities and attitudes Beatrice tries her hardest to get to know what’s behind Mary’s exterior more so than other characters. Through Billy’s eyes she is seen as sensual yet frightening, comparatively to other women he hires at the club he holds more respect for Mary and there’s a genuine fondness on his part. She also manages to deceive Detective Dolor (John Emmet Tracy) for as long as she can demonstrating how double-crossing she can be while protecting herself and her unique body modification “business”.

A complex and compelling character, Mary continues to gain cult and iconic status providing Scream Queen Katharine Isabelle with another memorable role under her belt next to Ginger from Ginger Snaps (2000). Whether feared or admired, there’s certainly something about Mary!

2. Laurie Strode, Halloween Series (1978, 1981, 1998, 2002)

  • Played By Jamie Lee Curtis
  • Directed By John Carpenter
  • Written By John Carpenter and Debra Hill

laurie strode  Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) is one of the earliest examples and arguably the most famous of the ‘final girl’ trope. Despite not being the first horror heroine to come up against and survive a maniacal killer in the slasher territory (See. Jess, Black Christmas (1974) and Sally, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) as earlier examples) she holds a great deal of significance. Laurie’s character and status as ‘the final girl’ has been famously examined by Carol Clover in Men, Women and Chainsaws and its become pretty much concrete that Halloween (1978) set the standard for the slasher films that came after it and coined several of the tropes that have been recognizable ever since. The term ‘Final Girl’ came from Clover who stated the attributes as being a strong female character and one that was distinct from other females within slashers. As us horror enthusiasts know if you’re the slutty blonde cheerleader your more likely going to die but if you’re the shy, bookish, virginal girl, you’re going to survive! The final girl is the one who realizes the extent of the threat facing her and its even suggested that once she confronts the killer and more than often stabs him with a knife (a penetrative motion) its used as a metaphor for her sexual frustration.

It seems as if ‘Final Girls’ during this period of horror were constructed as masculine, with their feminine qualities suppressed, they were in place more as an experience for cinematic terror. By having a female figure rather than a male the intent was to convey fear as women aren’t viewed as physically strong as men. It created more vulnerability when the final girl would face up against a killer twice her size.

Another attribute of ‘The Final Girl’ is having a gender neutral name which supports this idea that the role of the female in slasher films is for a male audience to be able to identify with. Clover’s theory however has been criticized for being problematic as it doesn’t suggest that the heroine reflects female identity and anxieties. Laurie in fact does display several of the characteristics Clover set out. Despite thwarting the killer at the climax and surviving, Clover’s focus on a male outlet has been argued against as Laurie is ultimately rescued by a male character Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence). Through this she is not entirely an ‘active’ final girl who seeks out the killer herself but she is one step ahead of the other characters as she remains continually cautious and is smart enough to keep herself alive. Laurie is an early reference point for the trope however she does evolve over the years. In the sequel she is hospitalized but still displays more awareness, warning others about the boogeyman who attacked her, the doctors dismiss her fears and continue to sedate her. In Halloween II (1981) Laurie makes the connection that her attacker is in fact Michael Myers and also her brother. With that knowledge she is able to defeat him once more with the help of Loomis. During Halloween IV (1988)V (1989) and The Curse of Michael Myers (1995) she is presumed dead leaving behind a young daughter Jamie Lloyd (Danielle Harris) who becomes Myers next target. In Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998) its discovered that Laurie is alive and living behind a secret identity. Fragile and unable to cope with her past, she is on medication and a shadow of her former self, which makes her more human. This time round she has her teenage son John (Josh Hartnett) to protect as Michael targets his little sister once more. By the end Laurie gains the courage to fight back and finish off Michael Myers once and for all, beheading him with an axe. By this point Laurie had molded from the vulnerable teenager in the first installment to a stronger woman. Unfortunately Halloween:Resurrection (2002) exists, destroying everything the previous film had intended with the evolution of Laurie’s place as a final girl, by having Myers kill her off in an asylum in the films opening minutes. Allegedly Laurie had decapitated a security guard rather than Myers in H20.

As stated Laurie Strode is one of the most emblematic heroines to emerge from the genre. Even though she does fall into several categories that make up the traditional final girl, its not to say that she doesn’t display any feminine qualities. She begins as a teenage girl with insecurities and becomes a strong woman which is plenty for a female audience to relate to. Laurie is without a doubt the first notable final girl in the slasher sub-genre and a huge influence on all the strong horror females that came after her.

1. Sidney Prescott, Scream Series (1996, 1997, 2000, 2011)

  • Played By Neve Campbell
  • Directed By Wes Craven
  • Written By Kevin Williamson

scream4_06  The countdown has now reached an end and its time to finally discuss the feistiest female in Horror and that is Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) from the slick, post-modern Scream franchise.

If Laurie Strode was responsible for evoking ideas about ‘the final girl’ then Sidney Prescott was in place to challenge them. The 90’s were upon us and the horror genre was in dire need of a re-vamp. Precisely everything had been done by this point and filmmakers needed to find a way to keep on terrifying audiences who were now all too aware of the cliches and tropes thrown at them. Enter Kevin Williamson, a complete godsend. Williamson re-invented the genre with his quick-witted, self-aware but also brutal Scream (1996) along with the experienced genre director Wes Craven on board. Instead of re-hashing the same tired conventions, Williamson challenged them by creating a slasher film where the characters were conscious of being in one yet still met a bloody demise at the hands of an all new sinister serial killer, Ghostface (voiced by Roger L. Jackson) who knows these movies inside out and through the knowledge of the conventions is able to outsmart the targeted teens.

As a final girl Sidney on one hand does qualify for some of the attributes Clover discussed. She has a gender-neutral name and has intimacy issues. On the other hand she is clued up on how females in horror are constructed yet when faced with a slasher-type situation she acts on instinct rather than logic. That’s until the sequels where she becomes even more savvy on how to outsmart the knife-wielding masked murderer. The previously mentioned intimacy issues are down to trauma rather than just playing the good girl. Sidney’s mother was brutally butchered before the events of Scream (1996) however she eventually bows down to pressure from suspected boyfriend Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich) and sleeps with him right before the blood-curdling climax. Even more of a turning point is Billy does turn out to be one of the killers meaning in this instance rules have changed and Sidney not only has sex, she has sex with the villain which establishes what audiences thought they knew about horror conventions is about to change.

By Scream 4 (2011) Sidney has encountered and defeated seven serial killers that donne the Ghostface disguise all out for her blood. Sidney achieved somewhat of a sick, celebrity status as ‘everyone’s favorite victim’ even though she yearns for a normal life where she doesn’t have to look over her shoulder. She overcomes more than most, the death of her friends and her only stable boyfriend Derek (Jerry O’Connell) as well as family members attempting to massacre her yet she still comes out on top. There has been rumors over the years that if another Scream installment was to be made there is the possibility that Sidney may be killed off however that would be disrespectful to her character and legacy and would be taking it down the previously mentioned Halloween:Resurrection route, which would just be awful! What’s empowering about Sidney is she isn’t afraid to pull the trigger and takes no second chances when eliminating the threat. There has been criticism that technically Sidney is as bad as the killers in the franchise as in self-defense she murders them in equally bloody measures however given the situation any rational person would react similarly in order to save themselves and remaining friends. She does all she can to protect herself, in the sequel she stays around her friends and is given two bodyguards, in the third installment she is a broken woman who isolates herself in a highly-secured house before deciding to come out and face the danger rather than pushing her surviving friends away. By the fourth and most recent film Sidney is wiser and displays more confidence, she even becomes an author recounting her traumatic experiences as a way of catharsis.

Sidney Prescott is my number one female of horror because she is strong, empowered, determined, will always fight back and has a well-rounded character arc. Sidney is a survivor who has left just as much as an impact as Laurie before her through turning conventions on their head and giving genre audiences much more to expect from what a final girl is capable of.

Hayley Alice Roberts.

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

The Most Eagerly-Anticipated Horror Movies of 2014 (so far!)

Posted in Horror Festivals, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 9, 2014 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

2014 has some thrilling genre titles on the way, already establishing that the year ahead is shaping up to be one of horror’s most exhilarating and bloodiest yet! Here are my top picks so far on the movies that are likely to appeal to my tastes. In no particular order:

Truth Or Dare

  • Directed By Jessica Cameron.

truth or dare posterTechnically a 2013 film, Truth or Dare has circulated genre festivals in the USA and Belgium. It’s Hollywood premiere is taking place on January 10th at the Shockfest Film Festival. There’s been a huge internet buzz surrounding the film which has picked my interest since I first heard about it. The premise sounds deadly and brutal, a group of friends have become an internet sensation through their popular “truth or dare” videos. Things soon take a sinister turn when their biggest fan decides he wants in on the action however he starts to play by his own rules! With the ever-growing internet phenomenon, the film appears to make a dark commentary on something so prominent in people’s day to day lives and there’s nothing scarier than that! Hopefully a UK release date will be on the cards or some festival screenings this coming year. Although Truth or Dare is Jessica Cameron’s directorial debut, she has already proven she’s a rising cult star in the making by starring in over 30 horror, thriller and sci-fi projects over the passed couple of years including To Jennifer (2013) and The Black Dahila Haunting (2012). Cameron has collaborated with Jonathan Scott Higgins on the screenplay to create a disturbing and gory feature which is already getting fans talking while putting a high quality of indie horror on the map.

The ABC’s Of Death 2

  • Directed By Various

abcs 2Anthology horror is becoming an increasing trend within the genre, thanks to film’s like last year’s success, The ABC’s of Death. There’s bound to be something for everyone on offer with such an eclectic range from gross-out gore, to humor to downright psychological terror. ABC’s is an impressive piece as it showcases what directors can come up with when given a limited run time. There’s no surprise that ABC’s warranted a sequel, bringing in more directors from all over the world. Following the search for the 26th director which saw many competitors battling it out for a segment in the film, the winning entry is officially Robert Boocheck’s M is for Masticate. I can see why it was chosen for its balance of humor and stomach-churning effects however it wouldn’t have been my personal winner. Joining Boocheck are a number of talented filmmakers  who will hopefully produce some diverse and interesting segments including Jen and Sylvia Soska (American Mary), Aharon Keshales (Big Bad Wolves), Dennison Ramalho (short film director) and E.L Katz (Cheap Thrills) which are the ones I’m most looking forward to seeing.

See No Evil 2

  • Directed By Jen Soska & Sylvia Soska

see no evil 2Being two of the most successful female directors currently in the genre with a hugely supportive fan base, the majority of us gore freaks are anticipating what the Twisted Twins will do next following their beautifully dark, body modification movie, American Mary. Collaborating with WWE studios, many were surprised that Mary’s follow-up would be a sequel to an average slasher flick from 2006. However there’s no doubt that the Soska’s will bring in their own unique style to the piece and transform Kane into one of the most talked horror movie villains of the decade. See No Evil 2 allegedly picks up where the first film left off. Killer Jacob Goodnight, played by the wrestler Kane wakes up in the morgue ready to terrorize a group of medical students. The Soska’s have expressed that since Mary became successful they have been encouraged by the studios to continue to use the same types of trends within their future projects and have come across scripts that are basically American Mary. As disheartening as that it is it appears they have reached a compromise by including the medical angle in See No Evil 2, making it the one aesthetic it shares with Mary as well as providing a trademark for them as directors. Katharine Isabelle is set to star in her second film with the Twisted Twins and will be joined by iconic Scream Queen Danielle Harris. This is one movie that is sure to celebrate the rising status of women in horror and will have enough packed in to appeal to the horror and wrestling communities alike.

Wolf Creek 2

  • Directed By Greg McLean


Eight years after its initial release, Australian ordeal shocker, Wolf Creek is getting a sequel. Loosely based on true events, Greg Mclean’s 2005 outback carnage saw a group of tourists terrorized by menacing serial killer Mick Taylor (John Jarratt). Literally getting away with murder, the film was left open ended meaning evil Mick Taylor still remains a deadly threat to all that cross his path. The upcoming sequel has been in development for a while although finally has a February release date in Australia so hopefully mad Mick will be making his way over to the UK very soon. There hasn’t been much information as of yet surrounding the plot therefore its unknown if it deals with the aftermath of the first film or whether its a prequel. Two tie-in novels have been penned by Mclean himself, detailing Mick Taylor’s bloody origins, Wolf Creek: Origin and Wolf Creek: Desolation Game. It’s uncertain whether a sequel is really warranted to what could be considered a modern classic, however if there’s more story to tell then it could be a very interesting film.

The Purge 2

  • Directed By James DeMonaco

The Purge 2 Movie

The Purge was one of my favourite genre offerings of last year. It upped the ante on the home invasion sub-genre by bringing in a well-crafted concept that made it a little less conventional than the standard fare. A sequel has recently been announced and it will certainly be intriguing to see if it manages to hold up as well as it’s predecessor through replicating the formula or whether this is an attempt to place The Purge in the same league as the SAW and Paranormal Activity franchises. A plot has not been revealed as of yet however some cast members have been confirmed. The film will star Zach Gilford, Michael K. Williams, Frank Grillo, Kiele Sanchez and Carmen Ejogo. With an all new cast of characters, it will be interesting to see if any rules have changed since the previous instalment. With the same director on board it gives it a promising start meaning the vision from the first film will be in place. The home invasion sub-genre has proved popular in 2013, but will it continue? Time will tell when The Purge 2 hits our screens in June.


  • Directed By Various


The second anthology film I’m anticipating in this list. XX is set to be a female led horror anthology, featuring segments from the most innovative female directors in the genre and promises to incorporate a lead female character in each. Women in Horror is bigger than ever and far more celebrated than it may have been in the past. Its been argued for a long time that women have been under-represented in the genre and now finally a surge of successful female filmmakers are given the opportunity to showcase their dark visions for the big screen. Its been said that there will be some animated, stop-motion sequences in place to transition between each segment created by Sofia Carrillo who’ll also be in charge of the title sequence. Joining her will be Jennifer Lynch (Chained, Boxing Helena), Mary Harron (American Psycho), Jovanka Vuckovic (The Guest, The Captured Bird), Karyn Kusama (Jennifer’s Body) and of course the Twisted Twins Jen and Sylvia who are making an impact in horror this year through their involvement in various projects. Many films have been directed by women over the years however it isn’t until recent times that they are been given a prominent voice. It’s about time more films were shot in a way that women can identify with rather than feel objectified, not that its always the case. XX is sure to be inventive, ground-breaking, stylish and brutally gore-geous!


  • Directed By Alexandre Aja


Alexandre Aja (The Hills Have Eyes (2006), Mirrors) adapts Joe Hill’s novel of the same name in what looks like a dark, quirky thriller about a young man who mysteriously develops a set of horns following the brutal rape and murder of his girlfriend which he is accused of. Daniel Radcliffe marks his return to the genre following his lead role in 2012’s gothic, hammer horror The Woman in Black, in a role that’s far cry from his Harry Potter days. Radcliffe described his part in the film as both “emotional” and “outrageous” to play as his character experiences deep turmoil when using his new, unusual abilities to track down the real culprit! With the names attached it will be interesting to see how they approach the project, Aja as director and Radcliffe as an actor. Deep, harrowing, compelling and enigmatic, Horns will be one to look out for as its due for an upcoming theatrical release.

There we have it, some of the most exciting titles in Horror for 2014. I’m sure they’ll be many more to join them in the near future but for now, let me know which genre movies you can’t wait to sink your teeth into this year! Feel free to comment below or tweet me on @hayleyr1989.

Hayley Alice Roberts.

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

Women in Horror Recognition Month 2013

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 2, 2013 by Hayley's Horror Reviews


Head over to my facebook page, for plenty of discussion on Women in Horror recognition month. Unfortunately due to university work including my dissertation and script work, I am unable to dedicate as much time to film reviewing currently however by May time I plan to be back making this blog more active, so directors, producers and writer’s out there please send me your horror movies to review! Next February I have big plans to mark this awesome occasion which draws awareness to the under-representation of women within the genre but for now please comment here or on facebook and tell me what is your favorite female orientated film and why?! Let’s generate some discussion!

However, I do believe that thanks to the recent Soska storm with their increasingly popular body-modification, Asian and European influenced American Mary that women direction in horror is being put on the map, which is very inspiring for me. The Twisted Twins have managed to create a powerful female film and have managed the balance between remaining sexy without being gratuitous and exploitative! We need more of this please!  There is definitely plenty of room for talented women in horror and hopefully I can achieve my dream of becoming a horror presenter, writer and director!

Below are a few pictures of the genre women that have inspired me!


Sylvia & Jen Soska (The Twisted Twins)

582770_509316209118802_1399237812_nEmily Booth.

johartleyJo Hartley

imagesKatharine Isabelle

sophiadisgraceSophia Disgrace

tristan riskTristan Risk

If you’d like to send me a screening via vimeo of your film’s for a future review, please contact me on

or send a message via the facebook page!

Hayley Alice Roberts

“From Grindhouse to Body Modification”: An Interview with the Twisted Twins, Jen and Sylvia Soska.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on June 15, 2012 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Canadian writers and directors Jen and Sylvia Soska are known as the Twisted Twins among the horror circuit. Their debut release “Dead Hooker in a Trunk” (2009) was hugely successful as an appreciation to grindhouse cinema; but for their second feature “American Mary” they have gone for a different approach dealing with the fascinating world of underground surgery and body modification. These talented twins have brought a unique and stylish vision to modern, horror film-making and encourage others to get out there and create something that inspires you! In this detailed interview Jen and Sylvia discuss their approaches to film-making, how they dealt with representing a serious subject for their latest film, fan appreciation, Cannes, feminism, influences of Asian and European cinema, doing their own stunts and much more!

The Twisted Twins recreate a famous scene from “The Shining”, Stephen King was an early inspiration for them.

1.       Can you tell us a little bit about your new film “American Mary”?

S: The film follows medical student, Mary Mason played by Katharine Isabelle, as she grows increasingly broke and disenchanted by medical school and the surgeons she once admired. The allure of easy money and notoriety sends her into the messy world of underground surgeries that leaves more marks on Mary than her so-called ‘freakish’ clientele. I was first introduced to body modification when someone was trying to scare me. It lead me to do what I always do when scared, obsess until I know as much as I can about it – because fears are just stemmed from a lack of knowledge. Instead of differences, I found a lot in common with the people in the community and I feel very lucky that I had the opportunity to collaborate with these individuals for AMERICAN MARY.

J: The film itself is very haunting and disturbing, but in a beautiful sort of way. In many ways, stylistically, it is the polar opposite of DHIAT. DEAD HOOKER was very grindhouse and spontaneous while MARY is deliberate and deep. There is depth in the story and the characters. It also deals with the matter of appearances and what makes a monster. I’ve found that in life appearances are very misleading and often the ones in society that come off as good or worthy of trust are anything but, while those who appear a little different and perhaps a little darker aren’t the ones you should be watching out for. We’ve always felt like outcasts ourselves and being identical twins we often have to battle against the stereotypes of what people expect us to be. MARY does question one’s perceptions of right and wrong and good and evil in a very unique way.

2.       Would you say there are similarities between “AM” and your debut release “Dead Hooker in a Trunk?”

S: We try to write something that entertains and means something to us and has something personal in it. MARY is much more personal than DEAD HOOKER as it is an analogy of our time in the film industry, but the dark sense of humour, language, and content is the same. We took a fair bit of shit from some people reviewing DEAD HOOKER in regards to the camera work, characters, and story – all those things were a principle focus on MARY. HOOKER was a love letter to grind house filmmaking whereas MARY is hugely inspired by European and Asian horror filmmaking.

J: We put ourselves into our work so there will always be similarities between our films regardless of the content and the genre. I don’t think it’s possible for us to write something without elements of horror and humor, two things that we find go beautifully together. There’s nothing like giving your audience a little breath or an awkward laugh when things get a bit too heavy and dark. I’m pretty desensitized to the horror we put into our films so I can lose touch with how extreme some aspects of it can be. Like the extreme moments in DHIAT, there are some very disturbing moments in MARY. And we enjoy writing strong female characters. It was something that we felt was really lacking when we were acting and we try to write the kind of roles we would have liked to be offered to us.

3.       What was the most rewarding part of making the film?

S: The audience reaction to the film is what I live for. It’s also extremely stressful and nerve-racking because you never know how people will react to your film. I felt like I was on the verge of being sick up til the worldwide market premiere screening of AMERICAN MARY at the Cannes market. The audience, excluding one woman who ran out for content reasons, really dug the flick and it was cool to see them laugh and cringe – it makes everything worth it.

J: Definitely the audience reactions. We are horror fans ourselves and we try to make the kind of work that we’d like to see. We’ll always make our films with the fans in mind. Another wonderful thing about this film in particular is acceptance and challenging people’s views on those society deems outcasts. I think this film will open a healthy discussion about body modification and challenge the reasons why it is not universally seen as acceptable while “cosmetic surgery” is. I see no difference between the two accept for the fact that cosmetic surgery is largely used for people to fit into society’s idea of what is perceived as beautiful whereas body modification caters to enhancing one’s own ideal of beauty and individuality.

4.       The film’s theme depicts a world of underground surgery, what sort of research did you have to do in order to portray this?

S: It’s very important to Jen and me to have honesty in our work, it makes it more relatable even in a fantastical situation like filmmaking. The underground surgeries, the procedures and body modification community is very real. They don’t stop being who they are after the film is finished and given that this is one of the first films, if not the first feature film, to put that culture into the spotlight, we wanted to properly represent them. I think too often people make judgements without really looking into what or who they are talking about and I didn’t want that to happen in this situation.

We brought members of the community onto the production. Russ Foxx was our flesh artist consultant and him and Katie went through different techniques to keep it genuine. We mixed the phenomenal prosthetics from the Masters FX team with authentic members of the body mod community, so you’re never really sure if you’re seeing something real or something created. From my experience, I’m a huge fan of the body mod community and the people in that community. I think the film is going to change a lot of people’s ideas of what these people are actually like.

J: We wouldn’t be able to write something without researching it heavily. We spoke to the community and I’ve had so many conversations with Russ Foxx, who was wonderful. I felt like a bit of an idiot with the things I’d ask about, but he was always a gentleman, occasionally reacting with a little laugh, and always a deep, thoughtful explanation.

5.       You’ve recently taken “AM” to the Cannes Film Festival, how was it received there?

S: I felt absolutely spoiled by the audience’s reaction to the film. It was extremely well received. At a market screening, you’re up against official festival selections and a lot of your audience are buyers that watch ten minutes of a film before rushing to another screening, audiences rarely react the way a festival audience would. I was prepared for that, but it wasn’t what we got. What we got was a packed room with a responsive audience that sat even through the credits and stuck around late into the night with us, talking about the film. One woman got up and hurried out shaking her head at a scene that I call radical feminism, like a bra burning to the nth degree, but I don’t think she would agree with me.

J: It was more than we had hoped for and more than we had expected. AM had her world wide market premiere at the festival and traditionally those are lightly attended with little focus on the film and frequently have people coming and going. It’s vastly different from a festival screening where you have the benefit of fans being in attendance. We had a full audience and people laughed and groaned and whispered excitedly. It was incredible. I felt so humbled to be there. ha ha, and they even laughed at our bilingual jokes. I was all like, “how’d they know what he said without subtitles? Oh, yeah, we’re in Europe, ha ha.”

At the Cannes Film Festival with the Abertoir Festival Organisers.

6.       What’s coming up next for the film, will it be going around the horror festival circuit?

S: Next will be the film’s official in festival film festival screenings. We are still waiting confirmation before we can announce it, but we are hoping to start towards the end of the summer. I’m very excited to see how people react to the film because it is so different.

J: We’ll definitely be hitting the film festival circuit as we’re dying to show the film to the fans. We can’t say where it’ll have its official festival premiere just yet, but look for it towards the end of the summer. And don’t worry. When we can say, we will say. Loud. There’s no chance you’ll miss hearing about it, ha ha

7.       What’s the main appeal of making horror films?

S: It’s funny because we never set out to make a horror film. We love horror films, we grew up on them, and love prosthetics as that’s what really got us into our horror love. Knowing that everything you see on screen is a collaborative effort with the intention of scaring the audience was something that my mom taught me when I was ten and freaked out by POLTERGEIST. We made DEAD HOOKER as an anti-chick flick road trip movie. We had some pretty serious gore and stunts in there which made it more of a cult-style horror. Then, when we started writing AMERICAN MARY, we planned on making it a more ‘straight forward’ horror and it just ended up taking this life of its own. Sometimes horrible things happen and the best way I can deal with that is if I put it into a script, then I have control over that situation. It’s not that horror films are the only kind of film that I am interested in making, I just don’t know if I would make a story without prosthetics and something horrific.

J: We’ve been drawn to horror our entire lives. I’m not sure if it’s the thrill of it or the ability to watch a horror movie or read a horror story and come closer to darkness and evil and danger than you ever could in your real life and be able to walk away completely unscathed at the end of it. Or it could be that whole “you’re not supposed to” aspect of it. Horror is bad. Stay away from it. The more people hear “no”, the more they are naturally drawn towards the forbidden. It’s like a morbid curiosity or fascination. Fear is a learned emotion. If your mother jumped on a chair and screamed like crazy every time she saw a spider, you would have sub consciously learned to be afraid of them. We were fortunate enough to be raised with a mother who let us watch scary movies and read Stephen King novels at an early age. I highly recommend it. It’s great to vastly improve your reading level at an early age. We were never discouraged from our love of the strange and unusual. I’ve always felt that we, ourselves, are strange and unusual.

8.       Who would you say your main influences are in terms of directors and style?

S: Robert Rodriguez and Carlos Gallardo were a huge influence on us and what really got us to make DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK. Also, the directors behind the multi-collaborative GRINDHOUSE had a bug influence on us. If it wasn’t for that film, I don’t think we would be where we are today – it came a perfect time when we needed to feel excited about making movies, enough to make our own. A lot of AMERICAN MARY is influenced by European and Asian cinema and directors like Lars Von Trier, David Cronenberg, Takeshi Miike, Yoshihiro Nishimaru, and Clive Barker.

J: Everyone that Sylv just listed. We are die hard comic nerds and gamers so we’ve taken inspiration from Stan Lee and Hideo Kojima. Another director I adore is Joss Whedon. His writing is superb, his characters are unique and iconic. His dialogue is phenomenal and he writes these beautiful story lines that unfold in the most rewarding of ways. His character interaction is flawless.

9.       What’s the best part about collaborating with each other on your projects?

S: I feel really lucky to have Jen. We’ve been best friends our entire lives and we work together like it’s second nature because it is. We joke that Jen is the Joss Whedon because of how she writes and how funny she is and that I’m the Lars Von Trier because I put scarring shit in everything. Somehow, even though we are totally different, we really compliment her. I don’t know how I could work without her. We break down scripts together, then scenes, then tag team write – one of us plays video games while the other types. Either gets blocked or stuck, we swap out, and the other goes over what was written and tweaks. It’s a lot of fun. We also have different focuses on set for the same goal, so we divide and conquer which I always think must be a little confusing for the cast and crew because we look alike.

J: Sylv is an amazing writing, director, and artist. People ask us what it’s like to work with one another and I honestly don’t know how people do it alone. We could work separately, but why would we want to? We can cut our tasks in two and divide and conquer or come together to really tackle something head on. Sylv is very driven, passionate about her work, and has this incredible dark and creative mind. We’re as similar as we are different. I often say we always end up at the same place, but we take very different paths to get there. I’ve read so much about writers endlessly hunting for writing partners. I’m blessed that I was born with one.

10.   You’ve both trained in martial arts and are able to do all your own stunts in your films, is that a lot of fun to do? And what challenges does it present?

S: I love martial arts and doing my own stunt work. On the teaser trailer for DEAD HOOKER, we did all of our own stunts and I got a little injured. Our original Cowboy Pimp thought I was a cunt and wanted to teach me a lesson, so he booked it for my horse drag and I lost a few inches of skin. When you have a feature and lots of scenes to shoot in a short period of time, you can risk any injury, so we still did a lot of our own work, but I had this brilliant stunt performer, Maja Stace-Smith, do the horse drag and the double kick in that fight. She doesn’t get enough credit – she is a real super woman.

J: Oh, we love martial arts and stunts! We have so much respect for the professionals that do it. We get pretty excited about it, but we try to not have our excitement suggest that we don’t have a lot of respect for the challenges and risks involved. For us, a new challenge is getting the okay to still do our own stunts. People worry and say “what if something happens to you?”. That’s kind of ignorant, actually. Anytime a stunt professional works, they are risking their safety and often their lives. I understand the risks involved and I would never ever attempt to do anything of that sort without trained professionals preparing me and being present.

And doing stunts is really a thrill. It’s a rush, that’s undeniable. It’s like doing martial arts and sparring. You just get this amazing rush and it’s wonderful. I’ve wanted to be a superhero as far back as I can remember. It makes me feel like I am.

11.   So, what’s next for the Soska Sisters? Have you got any future projects coming up?

S: I’m really excited for what we have coming up. We’re very proud of our hometown, Vancouver, and are teaming up with the Rio Theatre, who were the ones to screen DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK, to have monthly horror nights which includes horror burlesque shows with Tristan Risk, one of our stars from AMERICAN MARY, and Russ Foxx, whose human tackle box shows are like a cenobite’s wet dream, with us hosting. We are also looking to get to work on the next film soon. We have some very cool opportunities not only with our own scripts but bringing some people’s work that we greatly admire to a big screen adaptation.

J: We have a lot of interest in our “next one”. At this point, it’s tough to tell what it’ll be. We have several scripts ready to go, but we’ve been talking about directing someone else’s work, which is pretty cool. You can expect whatever it is that we’ll have our horror and humor elements in there. We want to have our next one started by year end. I’d really love to do BOB. It’s a script we wanted to get going before MARY, but she’s an undeniable lady. She wanted to be made and she is really relevant to right now. I feel BOB is the same. It’s a blend between the styles of DHIAT and MARY. It’s as vicious as it is hilarious. And, of course, very unique.

12.   Finally, what advice would you give to aspiring filmmakers who want to become involved in the horror genre?

S: I would say that you should just do it. You have all the resources in the world, accessible technology, you can shoot on digital inexpensively, and you can learn from your favourite filmmakers through DVD commentary, books, interviews, and even speak to some directly online to learn how to pull it off. Rodriguez’s first hand account of EL MARIACHI, ‘Rebel Without A Crew’, was our Bible on DEAD HOOKER. Lloyd Kaufman’s ‘Make Your Own Damn Movie’ series is awesome. Learn as much as you can, make a project that means something to you, that is different, and that you don’t mind dedicating the next few years of your life to, and make it. Too many people wait for an opportunity to live their dream, we wasted years waiting for ours, so we got a killer group together with the same passion for filmmaking and made ours. As long as you stay focused and work your ass off, you will be successful.

J: Go make a movie, don’t just talk about it. Is it scary? Abso-fucking-lutely. But that’s part of the fun of it. You will never learn as much from reading about it or film school as you will from actually going out there and doing it for yourself. And at the end of it, you’ll have a movie that’s yours. I’d recommend watching a lot of movies. Sylv and I watch something new every day. Start with your heroes that inspire you and then try to see why their work is so good. Is it the way they use music? Is it the editing choices? Is it the framing? Is it the dialogue? The characters? And do the same thing with anything and everything you watch. You can learn more from a shitty movie than a good movie. Try to see where it became a bad movie and why so you can avoid doing that in the future.

And never use the excuse that “we didn’t have enough time” or “we didn’t have enough money”. If something sucks, don’t use it. No one cares why it sucks, they just see that it sucks. Pool your resources. Make a list of things you have available to you from locations (a business, an apartment, a church, a community hall) to props to cool things that will make your film stand out from the rest (an exotic animal, a classic car, anything unique). You’ll be surprised by how much you have available to you. Think of an idea for your film that gets you excited every time you think about it because you’ll be talking about it for the rest of your life. For Robert Rodriguez, it was a man with a guitar case filled with guns in EL MARIACHI. For us it was a dead hooker in a trunk. Also, don’t listen to anyone who tries to discourage you. If we stopped every time someone quite literally laughed in our faces, we wouldn’t be where we are today. Go do it!

Thank You to Jen and Sylvia for taking the time out to do this interview for Hayley’s Movie and TV Reviews,  I wish them every success with American Mary.

Interview Conducted By: Hayley Alice Roberts.

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Cult Retrospect: “Dead Hooker in a Trunk” (2009)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 5, 2012 by Hayley's Horror Reviews


Immediately the title of this film invokes curiosity and encourages the viewer to take a look. This exploitation flick is a must-see thrill ride with twists and turns and plenty of blood, guts and gore that keeps the audience gripped and disturbed from beginning to end. The film features interesting and experimental camera work conveying a gritty tone as the narrative cleverly changes direction defying expectations on several occasions resulting in a satisfying pay-off!

The plot centers on a group of misfits consisting of twin sisters one referred to as “The Badass” and the other ” The Geek”, their “Junkie” friend and a “Goody-Two Shoes” religious  “love interest” for “The Geek”. After picking him up from his “Youth Group” they discover the dead body of a nameless hooker in the trunk of their car! Without giving too much away, from then on we see a roller-coaster ride of extreme violence accompanied by tongue in cheek dry humor.

Canadian-born sisters Jen and Sylvia Soska deliver one of the best exploitation films of recent years, the dialogue is inventive and witty, the characters come across as larger than life caricatures with their dark sense of humor and actions and the plot is full of intrigue. The violence is deliciously extreme from eye gouging to arms being hacked off to guts being spilled, it really is a crowd pleaser for genre fans who enjoy something a bit more unusual and exploitative than mainstream horror has to offer! “Dead Hooker” also features some awesome women who can really kick-ass reminiscent of “Faster Pussycat, Kill, Kill!” (1965). It also has a sense of uniqueness that as well as the title makes it stand out. The only criticism for the film would be a little too much exposition at the climax, depicting an incident the audience was aware of in order to fit in some more carnage.

“Dead Hooker in a Trunk” definitely deserves its status as a Cult Classic. One hundred per-cent recommend it.  The Soska sisters next project currently in post-production “American Mary” (2012) looks equally as intriguing and will be eagerly anticipated.

Hayley Alice Roberts.