Six years. That’s about how long I’ve been doing this wacky website thing, updating horror news for the legions of screaming fans who want their information right now, damnit. Six years may not seem like a long time, but when you figure I’ve seen our reporters go on set visit after set visit, on everything from Mortuary to Silent Hill, and never once had the opportunity to go myself, it can feel like a lifetime.
So when Fox offered to fly me out to Vancouver to hit the set of Wrong Turn 2, the direct-to-DVD sequel starring Henry Rollins, Texas Battle, and Erica Leerhsen, I felt it was about damn time. It didn’t hurt that the film’s director, Joe Lynch, is a tried-and-true horror geek like the rest of us, the kind of guy that any fan could easily chat with for hours if for no other reason than to pick his encyclopedic brain for all variety of horror facts and opinions.
My trip started off on a real-life scary note when I got to the airport and realized, while waiting to check in, that I had forgotten my passport at home. After a few minutes of panic, trying to figure out just how to explain to Fox that I’d wasted their generosity by making the most common of international travel blunders, my lovely wife came to the rescue with a last minute drop-off that saved my ass. Of course I then go to check in only to find out that they’ve stopped seating for the flight already and almost missed my plane anyhow, but for a change the people working the service counter did their jobs right and got me through in no time.
The view from my hotel room… not too shabby for a ‘net geek, eh?
After spending about 7 hours on a plane, I landed in beautiful, sunny Vancouver, British Columbia, which has to have one of the most picturesque airports I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting. As you get off the plane you look to your right and see nothing but snow-capped mountains on either side. Not a bad view if you ask me.
I got to the Suttton Place hotel in downtown Vancouver a mere half hour later and settled in for a night of TV watching and relaxing, enjoying the fact that not only was I on the other side of the country getting ready to do my first set visit, but that the studio had put me up in one of the nicest hotels in the city. I would venture to say the place was far too nice for a schlub like me, but then I’m not going to stare into the gaping maw of this particular gift horse.
The auto graveyard
Early the next morning I met the Fox reps in the hotel lobby along with fellow journalists from Fangoria, Suicide Girls, UGO, Cinemafantastique, and G4TV. An interesting side note (at least it was for me); the on-camera guy from G4 was none other than Zach Selwyn, aka Randal Keith Randall from Dead & Breakfast. Anyone who’s seen that movie will know him as the narrator/musician that makes the little horror film that much more enjoyable.
Me, with no hair, and Zach Selwyn, with perfect hair
A quick jaunt over to the nondescript set and before I knew it we were checking out the auto mausoleum, a massive indoor car graveyard that is the dumping grounds for the vehicles of all the inbred family’s victims throughout the years. We’ve seen something similar in the recent Hills Have Eyes remake, but this was all inside, which if you think about it does make a helluva lot of sense; “From a story point of view, if you’ve been killing people for years and years, what with the way satellites are able to see anything on the ground now, what would you do with that massive accumulation of vehicles?” explained production designer Brentan Harron, who came onboard shortly after working on Hollow Man 2. “[Director] Joe Lynch has always seen this family as being very industrious, creating their own utensils and tools to make their lives better and using the cars as a source of material for them to build things to accommodate their lives, so that was the theory behind some of the pieces being disassembled.”
Another piece of the auto graveyard
Indeed, the mausoleum is very impressive, featuring all manner of cars both stacked on top of one another and hanging from the rafters, a look that was certainly not a quick accomplishment. “Three days of mayhem!” is how Harron describes the setup. “We had tow trucks in and out, we had cars going and lifts, while at the same time riggers and grips were putting up all the lights; it was just absolute chaos for three day straight. A lot of fun, no one got hurt thankfully, and we all worked together very well.”
Director Joe Lynch gives the serious face
Working well together is a common theme from pretty much everyone on set, and first-time director Lynch couldn’t be happier with the crew that was put together for the sequel, “What’s really great is I have a much better crew than I would have ever expected,” he reported. “We’ve either got fans of the genre who really want to make a great movie, or they’re just saying ‘that kid Joe, he’s got a lot of spunk… he’s got moxy!’ (laughs) Everybody has just been unbelievably supportive, from the location guys all the way up to the producers.”
I pretend I’m taller than producer Jeff Freilich
“We got a phenomenal crew together,” agreed producer Jeff Freilich, whom fans may remember as one of the creators of Freddy’s Nightmares back in the day. “We came up here at exactly the right time, in between the bigger movies, so people were coming right off of X-Men and Fantastic Four. We got people who were used to these huge productions, but they’re all looking for the same things I was: the challenges of making something that looks huge in less time with less money. And this picture looks huge!”
So what, exactly, is Wrong Turn 2 about? As you may know, the film centers on a reality show that challenges its contestants to survive in the wilderness for a set period of time. Normally the winner will walk away with $100,000, but in this case they’ll be lucky to keep all the limbs God gave ’em. But the reality show isn’t the focus of the movie; it merely serves as a method to give the mutated cannibal clan some fresh pickings.
One of the many desolate looking setups for Wrong Turn 2
“The reality show it not what this picture is about at all, it’s just a good reason to put people in the wrong place,” explained Freilich. “It’s not a bunch of characters who make one stupid mistake after another putting them into deeper and deeper shit, which is what a lot of horror pictures, including the first Wrong Turn, do these days. The great horror pictures are never about people making stupid mistakes; they’re always about people being sucked into certain situations and you know as the audience that they’re walking into danger but they can’t help it. Audiences love reality shows because they love seeing other people being humiliated and tortured, and here’s the perfect opportunity to do that in a horror picture.”
What the hell is all this? Nasty, that’s what
That’s not the first time I heard some encouraging words on set about just how good this movie could be. It seems everyone involved knows that this sequel has the potential to be even better than the original. “There’s a lot more action, and the death scenes are better,” star Texas Battle, who was last seen in Final Destination 3, explained. “People want to be in that situation where they can be there in that moment in time but then come back to reality.” Producer Freilich agrees, “The kills cracked me up, most of them I’d never seen before. Some of them we’ve changed dramatically, only to make them better, but the ideas were all in the first drafts of the script.”
Said script, penned by Turi Meyer and Al Septien, was also what got director Joe Lynch excited about the inherit potential, “I read the script and I gotta admit, I was really intrigued because it had moments in there where I was like ‘they’re never going to shoot that… there’s no way’,” he revealed. “I mean it was some really gruesome shit, you know? There were moments that I was able to say, as the horror fan that I think I am, ‘What would I do? What would I want to see?’ For example, instead of seeing barbed wire around someone’s wrist, or the hands being nailed into the chair, which you see in every movie like this in some form, why not razor wire around the arm? That’s what I want to see in a horror movie.”
Despite this being his first feature length directorial gig, Lynch is really the heart of this film. Everyone I talked to had nothing but great things to say about his work ethic and his energy on set, but how did a guy who started off making music videos and writing for Troma manage to land such a dream project?
I went to Vancouver and got head!
“I was working on G4 for about a year and a half, shooting and directing little bits, and then a friend of mine who was working for Anonymous Content, who had had my back for a long time, told me about this,” he explained. “I was in Tokyo, shooting drift racing (you can see a video of Joe and some real-life drift racers over on his MySpace page) and I get this IM asking me if I’d ever head of Wrong Turn and I was like ‘Hell yeah, I saw that in the theater!’ So he asked me if I wanted to do Wrong Turn 2… You know that excited move you make on IM (mimics typing really fast, “OMG OMG OMG”)? That was me! So he sent the script over and said if I wanted to do it, I was in.”
Apparently the suits in Fox’s home video department had done their research and wanted a director who could bring something fresh to Wrong Turn 2, as opposed to a director-for-hire who was only concerned with the bottom line. “Joe’s seen everything, which reminds me a lot of Quentin Tarantino” Freilich enthused. “There’s not a subject you could bring up that he couldn’t talk about. Not only that but he talks more than Quentin does, and faster too which is really hard to believe!”
Lynch directs star Erica Leerhsen on screaming… which she did damn well
“Joe is the consummate horror fan,” explained star Erica Leerhsen. “He’s like the fan standing by, telling you what works and what doesn’t, and really that’s what you want. You don’t want a director who’s trying to make a statement about how they feel about the world. That’s not what horror is about to me; it’s about creating believable, edge of your seat moments. Horror fans poke holes in your believability, so you want someone there who’s checking to make sure the holes are able to be filled in.”
Ken Kirzinger, who plays Pa in Wrong Turn 2 but fans will likely remember from his turn under the hockey mask in Freddy Vs. Jason, thinks there is no one more suited for this gig than Joe; “He’s a rabid fan who’s gotten the opportunity to finally do what he wants and he’s having as much fun as possible with it,” he told me. “He’s just a kid in a candy store, and his enthusiasm is totally infectious. Joe’s an aficionado of this genre and it’s really hit a chord with him. I’ve met so many horror fans who would just kill for this opportunity, and he’s got the skills and the heart to really do it right, which makes it that much more fun.”
Rollins = badass
Even veteran actor/musician/author/spoken word master Henry Rollins was impressed with Joe’s enthusiasm. “The guy’s like a shook up can of Coke,” explained Rollins, who plays Dale, the host of the reality show and consummate badass. “I like being around people like that cause that means you’re going to get the job done.”
The casting of Rollins was a coup for both the director and the producer, as Joe had no one else in mind for the part from the get-go. For his own part, Rollins was flattered that he was the first guy they thought of. “Jeff and Joe have trusted me to do this part without an audition,” he told me, “which was great because, for me, auditions are often difficult. I’m sure it’s not unique where someone who could actually pull the job off can’t get past the audition. The reason I don’t do well is just the awfulness of Hollywood; it’s standing there in a room watching all these guys walking back and forth in their Tarantino outfits going ‘Fuck you motherfucker…No, no, fuck YOU motherfucker…’ I just want to leave. Get me past this part and put me in the frikin’ movie. Don’t make me do the gravy train line; I don’t want to do the Hollywood Shuffle. I never liked it, but it’s part of it. When you’re a little guy like me, you have to stand in line.”
Henry talks, I listen
Not so with this film, though, and the former Black Flag frontman couldn’t be happier or more dedicated. “I will fling myself through seas of fire and walk on bloody stumps through snow-covered mine fields to satisfy [Jeff and Joe]. I just want to make good their faith in me. I’ll do a take and they’ll say it’s fine and I’ll be like ‘Are you sure? I’ll do it 150 fucking times, I want you to be so happy you hired me’. We go through it every day, too, they’re always making sure I know that if they need another one they’ll tell me. I just want them to be satisfied.”
A common complaint amongst horror fans the world over is the over-usage of CGI in our beloved genre; even the first Wrong Turn used the technology as a shortcut instead of creating real effects. This time out, producer Freilich promises just the opposite; “Everything in Wrong Turn 2, with one minor exception, is practical, including an axe being thrown into someone’s head… I don’t want to divulge too much about it, but I’ll tell you that the effects guys rigged a practical axe that looks like what it’s supposed to look like. It doesn’t look like some animated axe flying across the screen, which would look phony and laughable, which helps make it more like a tragic death.”
Star Matthew Currie Holmes is having a bad day
And the man responsible not only for the flying axe, but pretty much every other makeup effect that will show up on screen? Veteran effects master Bill Terezakis, whose work you’ve likely seen in everything from Deep Rising to Thirteen Ghosts to Freddy Vs. Jason. That last film was the one Joe was most familiar with and the reason he was excited to be able to work with Bill in the first place.
“I like the whole aspect of human oddities and that sort of thing,” Bill told me. “As soon as we agreed to do the film, we right away found out what actors were going to be a part of the mutant family, and once that was done we had some photographs taken of them all and those were sent to the shop. I have a lot of reference from medical text about defamation of skull and spine, just trying to pull from reality as much as possible.”
Something bad’s going to happen on one end of that log…
Indeed, the makeup that I was able to catch a glimpse of was incredibly impressive, and that was standing about two feet away from the character under it (sorry, no pics of the monsters were allowed). If I didn’t know better, I would have sworn this person was truly deformed. Kirzinger told me it was one of the tougher bits of prosthetics he’s been under. “The makeup is about a three- to four-hour process, it’s fairly complicated,” he explained. “It’s about four separate pieces, along with the fake teeth. Of course that’s all dependent on how many people are working on me, too. Then it’s about an hour or so to take it off. The Jason makeup was actually pretty simple, just a hood I put on and then the mask on top of that; they didn’t really have to glue anything to me, but this one is more actual prosthetics glued to my face.” Of course, Ken gets to act a lot more in this as well, which is a welcome change for the veteran stunt man.
“Ken’s really brought Pa to the forefront in terms of a character,” explained stunt coordinator Jacob Rupp. “He’s worked as a coordinator before and he’s very intelligent, so he’s able to have a lot of input into what he thinks his character would do. It’s important when I work with any actor that they have an idea of where they want their character to go.”
Henry talks, Zach listens
Speaking of stunts, director Lynch told us numerous times that Rollins kicks a lot of ass in this movie, more than he ever really has before, and Henry’s loving every minute of it. “I’m not coordinated, so of course there have been some issues, but by the time we’re shooting it, we’re cooking,” Rollins told me. “The martial arts and all that defense stuff is just using someone’s body and power against them, so when someone’s arm is coming at you this way, you turn just so and direct their arm back to stab themselves with it, and you just have to see that sort of thing as a windmill movement. Kind of like ‘wax the car’ sort of idea.”
That is the core principle to any martial arts, but sometimes accidents do happen no matter how prepared you are… and even if you’re Henry freakin’ Rollins; “I was in a big fight scene with one of our stunt guys Jeff Scrutton, who plays Three-Finger in the movie. He swings with a right, and I was just kind of there for it. Got me right in the jaw. He asked if I was okay and I said, ‘Yeah, I’m fine… I’m awake now!’”
A wood chipper that chips a helluva lot more than just wood
Unfortunately, none of us really got to see anything too exciting get filmed, though we were told that right after we left the set on the first day, they did a huge scene with the wood chipper and one of the characters being fed to it, which we were assured we would have loved to see. The wood chipper is an especially wicked looking device that comes into play more than once during the movie and is definitely not the kind of machine you want to find yourself on the business end of, as you can see here.
Ultimately with any sequel what it comes down to is amping up the kills and the excitement while at the same time trying to make it at least as believable, if not more so, than the original. This is a task Joe Lynch was more than up for, and his excitement about the material he’s directing served to make all the energy and high spirits on set downright infectious. Of all the reporters present, I was the only one who had approached the set visit expecting something very cool, due in no small part to my correspondence with Lynch beforehand, but by the time we left, everyone agreed that Wrong Turn 2 is shaping up to be a worthy follow-up to its predecessor and something that fans will get behind to show their support.
There are no solid release plans for Wrong Turn 2 yet, but word around set was everything from April to October of 2007. Editing is under way as you read this, and from what I’ve heard it’s all going very smoothly, so there’s a good chance it could be even earlier. And don’t rule out the possibility of a brief theatrical stint either. If Fox sees enough money making potential in this, we just may see it on the big screen before its inevitable DVD release.
Stay tuned to Dread Central.com for the latest news on Wrong Turn 2 as it drops in our laps!
I try the serious face with Joe this time
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