Jen and Sylvia Soska are the Canadian ladies behind Twisted Twins Productions. After the release of their first grindhouse-inspired feature, Dead Hooker in a Trunk, the twins went on to release American Mary, a critical darling of the indie horror scene last year. On top of their filmmaking careers, the Soska’s are dedicated advocates for the Canadian horror industry and they made an appearance at Rue Morgue’s “Festival Of Fear” over the weekend as part of the Vancouver Fan Expo.
Jen and Sylvia sat down to chat about their upcoming monster movie, their love for comic books, Sinister Cinema, and plenty more.
BD: Last time we spoke was at Toronto After Dark and you were just starting the big American Mary release tour. How has the journey been for you?
Sylvia: It’s been really awesome. I think we’ve traveled more now than we ever have in our lives, and it’s been so nice to meet people at our screenings.
Jen: It’s amazing to be able to travel the world. I never thought I’d be in Australia or the UK. But to go there and meet all the fans and friends we’ve made online and people who have been supporting our films, it’s wild. I was surprised to find that most people online don’t look like their pictures. Sometimes in their profile pictures, they look like a psychopath, and they don’t look like that in person!
BD: Well that’s a nice surprise!
Jen: Yeah, I would be scared if they showed up with a machete. Every once in a while there will be a total psychopath that shows up though, and we’re like, oh my god, how did you get by security!
BD: Do you have any stories you can share?
Sylvia: I got the most interesting death threat the other day. It was really creative and really descriptive. It was a guy from the UK and it was awkward because he listed some hotels we stayed at and he listed how he was going to kill us. I felt so embarrassed because we wanted to go to the police but I couldn’t find a number or anything so I went to agent and I was like, umm don’t worry about this but this guy is planning to murder us.
Jen: We make it easy for anyone to contact us. All our info is on our website under the contact section. But I was thinking about this individual that said he was a father and that he had a teenage daughter who wasn’t allowed to watch our movies even though he thinks our movies are amazing. Then he said he thought we were sexist for wearing high heels, that they were imprisoning us and these were negative stereotypes to be forcing on young women. And I was just like, Woah! I wear high heels all the time, and I do it for me.
Sylvia: You know, in high school, not everyone had cellphones so we sent notes and I’m kind of sad we won’t get that paper letter death threat now. Psychopaths can just send a tweet now.
BD: It’s a little less personal over twitter.
Jen: There’s no romance in it anymore!
BD: You were talking about how it was nice to meet your fans all over the world. Did you expect the response you got for American Mary?
Jen: I didn’t expect anyone to be there. I couldn’t believe that people were waiting outside our hotel room
Sylvia: I guess, in the UK, they were first to screen Dead Hooker, and they did the world premiere for American Mary, so when we went back for the theatrical run, I didn’t know how big the reaction would be. We had no idea what we were going to get when we were going from city to city. I met Laurence Harvey, and I didn’t even realize it, I thought he was just a big fan of Human Centipede, and I had been talking to him for months before we met in person. One of our guys was like oh yeah, that’s Laurence, and I was like, what, no way! I mean there are so many people on our friends list with pictures of stuff like Jason and Freddy, it’s hard to know sometimes. But, so many people came out and it was just such a fun trip. We had photographers follow us to our hotel and it was super weird. Then we come back home to Vancouver and nobody gives a fuck.
BD: You guys are pretty big advocates for horror in Vancouver and in Canada, but I imagine it must be quite different overseas.
Sylvia: I think genre in Canada has always had a struggle. If you think about Cronenberg, who makes awesome and weird stuff, and Jason Eisner, we have so many filmmakers with unique voices. Canada can make unique genre films, but we’ve always been fighting for that. There’s a joke that joke that the Canadian government will only fund movies that nobody wants to see.
Jen: When we were going to be on Canadian TV, our mom was like, are you nervous about it? And we weren’t because we’d been on TV a lot in the UK. Our first big Canadian experience for American Mary was at Toronto After Dark. Before that, with Dead Hooker in a Trunk, we’d been lumped with movies like Human Centipede and a Serbian Film at a festival. The fans were probably like what the fuck is this movie doing in the mix?
BD: There are always a lot of interesting Canadian movies and TV, but they never seem to blow up.
Sylvia: It just seems like we’ve been struggling for a national cinematic identity forever. We’re not trying to create our own stories with our own teams; we just have other people coming in to get a cheap tax credit for the next big American movie. And those movies are fun and everything, but what is our voice as a nation? You think of Korean and French genre cinema, and they have such unique voices. But in Canada, we’re just the little sister to mainstream U.S. stuff. It’s such a struggle.
Jen: there’s no representation of Canadians as really weird, fucked up people, which we are. And you look at things like Breaking Bad, or Mad Men, things with real balls, and then in Canada, we don’t want to insult anyone. Cronenberg, again, struggled to make his films when he was starting. It’s hard to label his films because they are so original, and you can see parts of that in Brandon’s Antivral. But the fact remains, Cronenberg himself had to go to the states to be appreciated.
Sylvia: Even in New Zealand, peter jackson’s first films were so weird and the nation hated them and then he made Lord of the Rings and now they all support his work.
BD: You also get people like James Cameron who grew up in Canada, but now, nobody would ever speak of him as Canadian.
Sylvia: Isn’t that the weirdest thing? We just don’t seem to celebrate people who are doing different things, and they jump the boarder because they get recognition over there.
Jen: I think we’re going to see that with Astron 6, unfortunately. Manborg is awesome, I love those guys. I think Jason Eisner is also working a lot in the U.S. as well.
BD: You guys are working on a new film as well. What can you tell us about it?
Jen: This is a movie that almost went before American Mary, and we thought we would make something with a bit broader appeal. It’s a film called Bob, it’s an original monster movie, focusing on practical effects. The tagline is, “there’s a monster inside all of us, and sometimes I gets out”. We’re collaborating with MASTERSFX again, and we’re creating the monster and doing the break down. We also have two other scripts from someone in comics. We’re huge comic book nerds, and we’re so excited to be working with these.
Sylvia: I can’t say who it is, but if you see us talking with them on twitter, it might, might be them.
BD: Is there anything you can tell us about your comic book projects?
Sylvia: It’s very under wraps right now, but we are going to be at a lot of cons this month and we are going to unveil the details there. We are also doing director cut graphic novel adaptations of all our films with a publisher. And we may be adapting some of their stuff, so there will be announcements coming soon!
Jen: We’ll also be at San Diego, and we’ll be making a special announcement.
BD: Going back to Canadian cinema, you guys just started out with Sinister Cinema. What can you tell us about that?
Sylvia: Yeah, Raven Banner and Cineplex have teamed up and they’re doing Sinister Cinema, which is a series of one night only events where they show really cool independent horror movies. It started with John Dies at the End, next up is The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh. I saw that last year and dude, you will love it. I can’t tell you why because it ruins the movie, but I saw it and it’s so confidently done and the camera work is just fucking awesome. That’s on May 9th. Then on May 30th, it’s American Mary, which is pretty alright.
Jen: Yeah, a couple Canadians made a movie called American Mary.
Sylvia: and then the last one is No One Lives.
Jen: It’s all up to the fans for this. If they sell out at the theatres, it will show that there is actually a demand for indie horror films, things that aren’t Scary Movie 18.
BD: Evil Dead just came out a few weeks back and it did pretty well at the box office. Have you checked it out yet?
Sylvia: I haven’t seen it yet. But even if it’s a good remake, it just means more shitty remakes that will be released. Technology has gotten so much better and so storytelling seems to be stagnant. I hear it’s super gory and that it’s a bit of a throwback, but I’m not sure. I’m a big fan of Evil Dead, so I will see it at some point. The only movie I won’t see because of the title, is the new Spider-Man movie. I’ve been buying spider-man comics since I was a little girl, and I’m sick of shitty comics and shitty movies. I almost cried three times in the theatre just because I was so embarrassed.
Jen: I’m usually against remakes, especially if it’s a remake of the international franchise just because people are too lazy to read subtitles. Ideally we’d love people to research film and comic books and video games, but the reality is that I don’t think people will. I think people will become snobs, that they won’t watch stuff if it’s not in 3D, HD.
BD: Well, there are people who are post-converting to 3D and making money off that.
Jen: Yeah, how many times is the Titanic going to be in theatres? No wonder it’s made so much money in the box office, it’s been in theatres five fucking times! Do you think Manborg gets a 3D re-release?
Sylvia: If there is any justice in the world, Manborg will get a 3D release in twenty yeas.
Jen: But it’s emotionally manipulative of fans for things like Jurassic Park. I remember before I saw it in theatres, everyone was talking about how it would change the film forever, and it did. The blend of CGI and practical effects was groundbreaking. But people go back and see these re-releases because it meant something to them when they were younger.
BD: Anything else you guys want to add?
Sylvia: Thank you to everyone who has supported us from Dead Hooker in a Trunk. Only because of that were we able to make American Mary. We are so busy for the next three years and now I won’t have to go back to waiting tables, so thank you so much! If you ever want to talk to us, our contact is on our website: twistedtwinsproduction.net. We’re on twitter and facebook and tumblr all the time. Our tumblr is 18+ though because we post of a lot of superheroes doing each other.
Jen: I honesty thought tumblr was a porn site for the longest time. But then I saw people writing personal stuff and I was like, wait a second. I thought it was totally just porn. Also, if you see us at cons anywhere, we would love to meet you. We’re not just there to hit on guys dressed as Deadpool or Wolverine, but chances are if you are dressed up, you’ll get a much more eager hug.