Extreme Body Modification Takes Center Stage in Soska Sisters' Follow-Up American Mary - Dread Central
Connect with us

Extreme Body Modification Takes Center Stage in Soska Sisters’ Follow-Up American Mary

Published

on

Post Thumb:

/nov11/americanmarys.jpg

After months of speculating, head-scratching, hand-wringing and a teaser trailer that evoked more questions than it answered, the secret is finally out. Just what is the Soska sisters’ new film American Mary all about?

The answer: underground, extreme body modification.

Dread Central was recently lucky enough to sit down with the Twisted Twins, Jen and Sylvia Soska, and discuss American Mary. To describe the experience, interviewing the Soskas is like trying to hug a beehive…incredibly intense energy, tireless activity and the sense that even though you’re dealing with multiple entities, there’s an overall feeling of single-mindedness and unity. The Soskas are an incredible breath of fresh air, and after the success of their unique first film, Dead Hooker in a Trunk, the ladies are looking to solidify their place in the horror community. Judging by early response, American Mary is just the film to do it for them.

Extreme Body Modification Takes Center Stage in Soska Sisters' Follow-Up, American Mary

“American Mary follows the story of Mary Mason, played by Katharine Isabelle, as she becomes increasingly broke and disenchanted by medical school and surgeons she once admired,” Sylvia Soska explained. “The allure of easy money sends Mary into the world of underground surgeries that leaves more marks on Mary than her freakish clientele.”

Jen Soska added, “In a way, American Mary is a metaphor for our own journey through the film industry,”, alluding to the fact that the people who look the most trustworthy and perfect are often anything but.

So how do two filmmakers who are fresh off a film like Dead Hooker in a Trunk, which Sylvia describes as “a love letter to grindhouse,” come up with something as intriguing and original as body modification as a subject for their next film? “If Sylvia sees something horrible on the internet, she likes to either ruin someone’s night by showing it to them unexpectedly, or she becomes obsessed with it,” Jen said. “She did this once with our short film Bad Girls, where she saw a break and entering where a grandmother got beaten with an umbrella. That was very significant to her so we made that film.”

“I saw the pictures afterwards of what this woman looked like, and it scarred me,” Sylvia said. “I was like, why don’t we do a short where we have this old lady grandma just beaten to fucking death? I thought it was a great idea and people would be moved by it…but no. They were so angry.”

Although Sylvia’s beaten grandmother inspiration didn’t go over so well, things are looking much brighter for American Mary, which was inspired similarly. “So once upon a time, Sylvia is on the internet looking for something horrible, and she finds this image of these two identical twin brother surgeons,” Jen said. “One of them had his arm voluntarily amputated and connected to the sternum of his brother so he just has this dead hanging arm. And the other one, the one with the hanging arm on him, cuts off a finger from his brother and he has it put onto his finger so he has an elongated finger, and the caption says that you have to be an identical twin to understand why we did this. We thought it was completely real, and it wasn’t until much later that we found out it was an April Fool’s joke by Body Mod Extreme Magazine.”

Sylvia continued her sister’s story, as the duo are frequently apt to do, feeding off each other’s comments as the lively interview rolled on. “Because it disturbed me so much, I became obsessed with body modification. It’s almost like plastic surgery in a way, but it’s surgery that’s not accepted by anybody who exists today and they can’t even get their procedures done legally. We had Russ Fox, who is really big in body modification, as our flesh artist consultant on American Mary. And he wanted to get licensed as a medical professional to do this, and a lot of what he does is fixing hack job operations that people get in hotel rooms from these random guys and they won’t let people do it because it’s not considered ideal beauty or acceptable. They always claim people have some kind of mental illness when they do this.”

“I think plastic surgery is more accepted because it’s the universal idea of what is beautiful,” Jen said, “but if you’re getting a tit job, you can’t really say 100 percent that’s for you. That’s what other people probably think is beautiful. If you get a split tongue or horns, you’re doing that, more likely than not, just for yourself because you’re not trying to fit into someone else’s aspect of what is beautiful. Why is it acceptable to cut open your tits, slip some plastic in, sew it up and say, ‘Look, it’s beautiful.'” To which Sylvia replied reflectively, “Well, a good tit job is kinda beautiful.”

Upon researching the world of underground body modification, Sylvia discovered that an interesting trend is occurring. “I found out that medical students, because they’re so hurting for money, will meet you off in a hotel room and do it because they’ll get paid and they kind of have experience. There’s a little bit of that in American Mary.” Funny, they never mentioned anything like that on “Grey’s Anatomy.”

And no matter how interesting horror fans may find the world of body modification, it’s not the easiest sell in the world for filmmakers. “When we first were pitching the film around, because of the content of body modification, Sylvia would open with “Have you heard about body modification?” and people would think subincised penises, amputations, weird shit done, and people would automatically shut off,” Jen said. “We tried to explain the film isn’t going to be Hostel, it’s not going to be Saw. It’s going to be horrific, but we’re going to very tastefully show and shoot the parts that you would find really disturbing.”

But don’t be fooled into thinking American Mary is going to be anything but an extreme experience, combining an intriguing story, great performances and an incredible F/X team. “We were looking around for an F/X team, and in Vancouver there is only one place. That’s MastersFX,” Jen said. “They are fucking awesome! They are absolutely phenomenal, working around the clock. I cannot say enough good things about Todd Masters and MastersFX.”

Sylvia added, “Not only did we have MastersFX come on board, we had people from the actual body modification community coming on board and just being themselves. Seeing the mix between them and the characters in makeup, the thing is, nobody could ever tell the difference.” That’s impressive F/X work.

Sylvia continued, “The closest anyone has ever come to doing body modification was Clive Barker with Hellraiser, but nobody was really interested. So he turned them into these demons and called them Cenobites.”

As for the name, American Mary? “I wanted to pick the most powerful female name I could think of,” Sylvia said. “I was thinking Mary Mother of God, Mary Magdalene (because there’s a little bit of that in there)…and Mary Harron, who’s one of my favorite directors. She directed American Psycho. She first taught me about making more controversial pieces, and I always wanted to make something that pissed people off. And considering that people have gotten ill during test screenings and people have run out during certain scenes of the movie, I think we did it.”

The Soskas drew inspiration from many foreign works, noting that there has been a bit of a lull in American horror, especially theatrical releases. Jen said, “I think something fucked up happened in North America where we now think ‘horror’ means ‘slasher’ and if we couldn’t come up with a slasher, we just did fucking remakes again. So the most interesting things are coming from other parts of the world right now.”

Fans of the Soskas’ previous film, Dead Hooker in a Trunk, will certainly be wondering what similarities their second effort has to their original offering. One thing you can count on is the twisted Soska humor returning in full bloom. “You’re gonna know who the sick fucks in the audience are,” Jen said. “There are moments that are very laugh out loud, but there are moments where you have to be one of the dark creatures to be laughing.”

“I’m so passionate about this movie,” Sylvia said. “I get so fucking focused on what this needs to look like and what the characters need to do, I don’t see anything else. I love stories about outcasts and people who people don’t usually understand. Jen and I were horribly teased growing up. We were teased, we were spat on, they called us witches, they beat us up and threw us in lockers.”

“We were not popular at all,” Jen remarked.

“They called us ‘The Fitzgerald Sisters’ so we watched Ginger Snaps,” Sylvia said, “and that was the first time we saw Katie.”

Katie, of course, is Katharine Isabelle, who plays the lead role of Mary Mason. Sylvia met Katharine several years ago on the set of Josie and the Pussycats and vowed to one day work with the actress. I was watching her career and loved Ginger Snaps,” Sylvia said, “but she just kept getting these roles and you see her with Pacino in Insomnia and see her with Halle Berry. She can pull her fucking weight.”

“She’s a very talented actress, but for whatever reason, because Ginger Snaps was such a pivotal film for her career and for horror as well, everyone got so caught up in casting her as the angsty teenager, chain-smoking and swearing all the time, but she’s a woman,” Jen said. “She’s grown the fuck up. She needed something that was a mature role. She’s great in everything she does, but I’ve always wanted to see her in something grown-up and mature and complex and dark, and Mary is definitely that part.”

You can also count on seeing a Soska cameo, but it may be the last one for a while. “I’d say it’s a cameo, but it’s a very pivotal role,” Jen said. “It’s a ‘look at me’ cameo. You’re going to be waiting for it and it’s going to be hinted at before you see it, but there’s a pretty good payoff. If you’re going to step back from acting, you might as well do it with a bang.”

And, of course, the million dollar question is where and when will we be able to see American Mary? The Twisted Twins were tight-lipped about the distribution information, but those tight lips were smiling. “There are a lot of interested parties in American Mary,” Jen said, “and there’s one large interested party that’s already claimed some of her. And there’s lots to claim.”

And although they are completed immersed in the world of Mary right now, the Soskas do have a couple of irons in the fire for the future, including word that they will be hosting several episodes of the rumored Chainsaw Sally Show: Season 3. “It’s so cool to see indies like this,” Sylvia said. “Those guys (JimmyO and April Burril and the Forbidden Pictures team) work so fucking hard. It’s all about social media and promoting. It’s about getting word out there.”

And as she often does, Jen finished her sister’s thought. “There’s a fucking billion of us indie filmmakers so you need to be out there. You need to see people doing the same thing as you and you need to collaborate…and they’re fucking masters of that.

We will keep you updated on any and all American Mary news. The Soska sisters are set to explode, and American Mary is the match to light the fuse. For now dig on the newest poster for the film, which has the first image of Katharine Isabelle as Mary. Enjoy! More news as we get it.

Be sure to hit up the American Mary Facebook page and the official Twisted Twins Productions website, where you’ll find more links to the talented duo’s Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Vimeo pages.

Extreme Body Modification Takes Center Stage in Soska Sisters' Follow-Up, American Mary

VISIT THE EVILSHOP @ AMAZON!
Got news? Click here to submit it!
Have some elective surgery in the comments section below!

Image Type 1:

Comments

Advertisement
Comments

Reviews

LIQUID SKY Blu-ray Review – You Don’t Need Acid For This Mind Melting Trip

Published

on

Starring Anne Carlisle, Paula E. Sheppard, Susan Doukas, Otto von Wernherr

Directed by Slava Tsukerman

Distributed by Vinegar Syndrome


Succinctly summing up a slice-of-life avant-garde feature film can be difficult when the picture relies heavily on the audio-visual experience and not necessarily the story. Liquid Sky (1982) is an acid-fueled trip through the emerging New Wave movement, viewed through the vapid lens of the fashion world, where drugs and sex are a commodity to be frequently bartered. The film juxtaposes the grimy and gritty streets of New York City with liberal use of bright, flashy neon, creating an aesthetic that both revels in the post-punk subculture and looks forward to the eye-popping pastels that would come to define the ‘80s. Within this kaleidoscope is a story about androgyny, rampant drug use, pleasures of the flesh, sexual abuse, and tiny invisible aliens that subsist on the endorphins released when people either get high or get down. As director Slava Tsukerman states in the extras, the idea was to craft a unique visual palette, the likes of which cinemagoers maybe hadn’t seen before; in that respect, Tsukerman capably succeeded. This is true subversive cinema, not for the mainstream.

Margaret (Anne Carlisle) is an androgynous NYC fashion model, looking to get her big break into certifiable stardom. Her nightclub fashion shows bring out all the fringe of the city – drug users, sexual deviants, flamboyant personalities, and her rival, Jimmy (also Carlisle), who is a fiend for cocaine. Margaret’s girlfriend, Adrian (Paula E. Sheppard), is a coke dealer whom Jimmy constantly harasses for a quick high, despite the fact he never has any money. Sex is his usual currency, consensual and otherwise. For reasons unknown, though easy to glean, a tiny UFO has landed on top of the apartment building in which Margaret lives, the visitors here to feast on endorphins released by the brain during drug use… or explosive, orgasmic sex.

Jimmy has lunch with his mother, Sylvia (Susan Doukas), a television producer who he sees as little more than a blank check. Sylvia also happens to live across the street from Margaret’s building, making it the perfect vantage point for scientist Johann Hoffman (Otto von Wernherr) to observe the till-now undiscovered, minute aliens and their spacecraft. Margaret, meanwhile, finds herself in one compromising sexual position after the next, often against her will, though these (let’s be honest here and call them) rapes tend to end with her perpetrators dead, a thin crystalline sliver embedded within their skulls; brain removed. Margaret doesn’t quite understand why, but the frequent cause and effect makes her imagine she has unbridled power, able to kill anyone that has sex with her. Eventually, Margaret comes to use this “power” to destroy anyone who crosses or uses her, which as the film will show is a significant number of people. Little does she know, all this time her saviors have been invisible to the naked eye and living atop her building.

The above plot synopsis barely scratches the surface of the weird and insane places this film travels. The biggest takeaway here should be the ground Tsukerman was breaking, which feels very much in the vein of something Andy Warhol might have been behind. The cast is comprised of societal outcasts; populated by homosexuals, ambiguous individuals, gender-fluidity, heroin users, club cronies, kink, vulgarity… all things that in no way conform to societal standards of normality. Carlisle pulls double duty playing two characters – one reprehensible, the other vaguely sympathetic – yet both fall under the rubric of blurred lines; they embody qualities of both masculinity and femininity. Tsukerman embraces the abstract and absurd, delivering a film that is fiercely independent and wholly incapable of direct categorization.

Driving this tour de force is a cutting edge synth score that is constantly active and consistently weird. A trio made up of Tsukerman, Clive Smith, and Brenda I. Hutchinson composed the soundtrack, and it sounds alien and otherworldly while also capturing the essence of the New Wave. The electronic cues and deep bass beats are energetic and repetitive, often making use of bizarre time signatures. Large portions of it reminded me of John Massari’s stellar synth score to Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988), as the synthesizer sounds are nearly identical in some passages. The grooves are infectious and wonderfully lo-fi, adding an audible assault to complement the visual feast.

Still, Liquid Sky is something of a challenging watch, especially a first-time viewing when expectations are impossible to calibrate. Because Tsukerman purposely made his film so esoteric and obtuse, it can be tough to settle into a comfortable viewing mindset because so much of the film is uncomfortable and unconventional. The acting quality is passable enough that viewers may find themselves watching the film less as a veritable feature and more a staged, lengthy piece of performance art, which it is in certain respects. Liquid Sky doesn’t lampoon the period or people associated with it, though it does offer an exaggeration of current trends. One thing is for sure, this is bespoke filmmaking at its core and a shining example of the marriage between emerging trends and psychedelic euphoria. Mind blowing stuff.

Vinegar Syndrome is consistently lauded for their A/V work and, boy, did they ever knock this one out of the atmosphere. The 1.85:1 1080p picture is pristine, making it almost impossible to believe this is a low-budget indie from ’82. The original 35mm negative has been given new life via a 4K scan, with the resulting image looking nearly flawless. Aside from literally two or three white flecks the picture is immaculate. Film grain has been smoothed out and minimized without the use of waxy DNR. Fine detail is exquisite, adding a sense of true life to these shiny and squalid environments. Colors are richly saturated and pop off the screen, just as eye-catching neon might do in real life. Color filters are used frequently, bathing the image in hues of blue or green or whatever color fits the intended mood. Skin tones are spot-on and accurate. There is nothing worth complaining about making this one of the finest images Blu-ray is capable of producing.

Although the audio is a single-channel English DTS-HD MA 1.0 mono track you’d never know it from the sonic quality. The synthesized score is catchy and constant, causing the film’s soundfield to be brimming with life at every moment. The aggressive mix and high levels cause a mild sensation of discomfort and unease for viewers, ensuring the picture is never viewed too comfortably. Dialogue is understandable and totally clean, with no indication of hissing or pops at any point. Subtitles are available in English.

An introduction is available before the feature begins, with director Slava Tsukerman giving viewers a brief greeting along with praise for Vinegar Syndrome’s new home video edition.

An audio commentary is available, featuring director Slava Tsukerman.

The disc also contains an isolated soundtrack, highlighting that groundbreaking score.

Interview with Slava Tsukerman is a recent chat with the Russian director, who touches upon his career, influences, and the legacy of his most endearing creation.

Interview with Anne Carlisle is a similarly themed chat, with the leading lady discussing topics ranging from her early beginnings to where her career has taken her now.

Liquid Sky Revisited is a nearly-hour long documentary covering all aspects of the film’s production, with Tsukerman delving into every bit of minutia behind the production, genesis, inspirations, etc.

Q&A from 2017 Alamo Drafthouse Yonkers Screening, featuring Tsukerman, Carlisle, and co-composer Clive Smith.

A lengthy reel of outtakes, alternate opening sequence, rehearsal footage, multiple trailers, and a still gallery complete the wealth of bonus features found here.

Additionally, the cover artwork is reversible allowing for display of the original key art or newly commissioned artwork.

Special Features:

  • BRAND NEW 4K RESTORATION OF THE FILM from the 35mm original negative
  • Brand new commentary track with: Slava Tsukerman (director)
  • Video interview with Slava Tsukerman
  • Video interview with Anne Carlisle (actress)
  • Director’s introduction
  • “Liquid Sky Revisited” (2017) – 50 minute making-of documentary
  • Q&A from a 2017 Alamo Drafthouse Yonkers screening with: Slava Tsukerman, Anne Carlisle and Clive Smith (music)
  • Isolated soundtrack
  • Never before seen outtakes
  • Alternate opening sequence
  • Behind the scenes rehearsal footage
  • Multiple theatrical trailers
  • Still gallery
  • Artwork designed by Derek Gabryszak
  • Reversible cover artwork
  • English SDH subtitles
  • REGION-FREE
  • Liquid Sky
  • Special Features
3.5

Summary

Supremely psychedelic and infinitely eccentric, Liquid Sky was 1983’s most successful independent film and for good reason: it is impossible to categorize and there are few films that color outside the lines so vividly and uniquely. You can’t explain it or understand it; you just have to see it. Vinegar Syndrome have raised the bar with their impeccable a/v quality and wonderful selection of extras.

Sending
User Rating 0 (0 votes)
Comments Rating 0 (0 reviews)

Comments

Continue Reading

News

Even Sarah Connor Hated TERMINATOR: GENISYS

Published

on

I think it’s safe to say there aren’t many people out there that were fans of Terminator: Genisys. The film was kind of a major mess and it looks like life on the set was as well.

That film’s new Sarah Connor, Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones) was recently speaking with Vanity Fair about some other crap and then the conversation swung around to the failed reboot of the Terminator series. And Clarke had some interesting things to say…

First, she told the magazine how she was “relieved” when the film bombed at the box-office so she didn’t have to sign up for further sequels. And then Clarke says she watched frequent Game of Thrones director Alan Taylor “get eaten and chewed up on Terminator. He was not the director I remembered. He didn’t have a good time. No one had a good time.”

Damn girl, tell it like it is! Got to respect the woman for not holding back and sugarcoating things under the blanket of “creative differences.” Hell, maybe Clarke will be able to do the same regarding all the drama surrounding that new Lando: A Star Wars Story movie one day.

What did you think of the film? Make sure to hit us up and let us know what you think in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram!

Synopsis:

When John Connor (Jason Clarke), leader of the human resistance against Skynet, sends Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) back to 1984 to protect his mother, Sarah (Emilia Clarke), from a Terminator assassin, an unexpected turn of events creates an altered timeline. Instead of a scared waitress, Sarah is a skilled fighter and has a Terminator guardian (Arnold Schwarzenegger) by her side. Faced with unlikely allies and dangerous new enemies, Reese sets out on an unexpected new mission: reset the future.

Comments

Continue Reading

News

Idris Elba Directs and Stars in Netflix’s HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME

Published

on

Like many of you out there, Idris Elba is one of my favorite actors working today. And it is with this in mind that I’m excited by today’s news that says Elba will be tackling The Hunchback of Notre Dame for Netflix.

THR reports that Elba will not only star in the film, but he will be directing and producing the music described as a “sonic and musical experience” as well. That’s a lot of hats there, Gunslinger.

For those who might be unaware, The Hunchback of Notre Dame is an 1831 novel by Victor Hugo that follows Quasimodo, a hunchback, who falls in love with the Gypsy Esmeralda. Michael Mitnick (The Current War, The Giver) will write the modern-day retelling with Fred Berger (La La Land) and Brian Kavanaugh-Jones (Midnight Special) producing along with Elba and Ana Garanito.

Are you excited by this news? Make sure to hit us up and let us know what you think in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram!

Comments

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Recent Comments

Advertisement
Advertisement

Join the Box of Dread Mailing List

Trending

Copyright © 2017 Dread Central Media LLC