Exclusive Interview: Joe Lynch talks CHILLERAMA, Holliston, and how THE BLOB changed his life

Last week I had the pleasure of talking with Actor/Director Joe Lynch. As a fellow fan of B-Movies, it was hard to stray from topics surrounding his great segment in CHILLERAMA, the living B-Movie legend Roger Corman, and how THE BLOB remake basically changed and shaped his life.
While he’s currently steeped in the B-movie world with WRONG TURN 2 and CHILLERAMA, it’ll be exciting to see how his future projects fare. KNIGHTS OF BADASSDOM was a Comic-Con hit and will be released in 2012, and he’ll be starring in the Fear Net television show Holliston. The most exciting and intriguing tidbit of them all though was his teaser about his upcoming project, EVERLY. While sounding completely different than his current body of work, somehow it sounds like it makes total sense as a career move.

Read the full interview below:

For CHILLERAMA, your short had a lot of nods to past horror movies and b-movies. What are your favorite B-movies?
That’s a really good question - there are just so many! I’m a forever student of cinema and I like everything - good, bad, and otherwise. It’s hard when someone asks, “what’s your favorite B-movie?” because there are some B-movies that I would go like …. For example, I think the remake of THE BLOB is one of the best horror/sci-fi movies of the 80s and some people will go “oh that’s a total B-movie” but then you find out Frank Darabont wrote it - the guy who did SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION - and then it’s elevated itself to a B+ movie. So it’s hard to really delineate for me - I’ll have the same kind of reverence for Steven Spielberg’s WAR HORSE as THE TOXIC AVENGER.

When I grew up, anybody that could make a movie they’re on this other level and to gain that level you just got to respect it. But when it comes to making movies, like when I was making WRONG TURN 2, I knew I was making a “B-movie” from the get-go. That’s kind of the same thing that Roger Corman was doing in the 70s and 80s - with the advent of the direct-to-video market. That’s the kind of genre that I was going with.

To answer your question, here’s a list of movies that influenced Zom-B-Movie: REANIMATOR, DEAD ALIVE, EVIL DEAD 2, GREMLINS, the whole Joe Dante kind of allure was influential to me. The other influences that I had with Zom-B-Movie were like DAZED AND CONFUSED and AMERICAN GRAFFITI - those films that are a slice-of-life, they take a moment in time kind of thing, and that kind of device where you have a whole bunch of characters are you’re catching up with them and hopefully by the end of the movie you get to learn about them and go along so it’s combining the B-movies that are more horror like DEAD ALIVE and REANIMATOR but also the nostalgic kind of movie that pertains to the drive-in which is AMERICAN GRAFFITI and DAZED AND CONFUSED.

Are you familar with SYFY Original Movies?
Oh yeah, WRONG TURN 2 plays on SYFY almost every weekend! A lot of people compliment me on that SyFy movie I did, even though it wasn’t made as that. Not quite on par excellent as SHARKTOPUS but I am very well aware of them, yes.

They’re kind of considered a new generation of B-movies - do you have a favorite of those SYFY Originals?

SHARKTOPUS is the one that I went “Oh my god, that is the greatest idea of a B-movie mash up that you could possibly take!” I was actually a big fan of DINOSHARK, that one was really funny. They’re all played very tongue-in-cheek, there’s a lot of taking two animals and shoving them together. And SHARKS IN VENICE - just throw sharks anywhere and I can guarantee I’ll watch it at least once. I know a lot of people reference this, but I do think SHARKTOPUS is on the top of the heap, so to speak. And what’s so funny and ironic is that the same guy who started the B-movie revolution, Roger Corman, is the same guy that did SHARKTOPUS. He’s most definitely a big influence on Chillerama, so SHARKTOPUS would have to be my be-all-end-all.

Not only do you direct, but you’re also acting in the upcoming Fear Net TV series Holliston. Did you get connected to that through working with Adam Green on CHILLERAMA?
Adam and I have been best friends for about 5 years now, ever since we met at a screening party. One of our friends, Spooky Dan, would just show movies in his back yard. One night, the first time that I met Adam after hearing about him through friends, it was a screening of his film HATCHET. While we’re watching it, there were two sections - one that I was on and one that Adam was on and they were all  these laughs coming from his end and all these laughs coming from my end and I was like, “who is that guy?” We were each thinking, “I want to find out whats up with that guy; I want to know whats so goddamn funny about that guy.” Since then we’ve been really close friends - he and I went to a British Film Festival and from there we started doing short films. From there a blossoming bromance has ensued and we’ve really just been working on our own projects but we always find a way to come together whether it be the Halloween short and then CHILLERAMA was kind of just an extension of that because Adam Rifkin and Tim Sullivan knew that we worked well together. We can kind of put all of our resources and our creative juices together and that was CHILLERAMA.  

Adam has a movie called Coffee and Donuts that he had done almost 13 years ago with his partner Will Barrett and they were trying to get this thing made into a TV show for practically over 10 years. After the 2nd short we did together, we just felt there was a chemistry here and that’s when Adam asked me to be a part of this show that ultimately turned into Holliston and thankfully we already had these shorts together and that turned into a teaser for all these companies looking into this show. And the rest is history.

You’ve got experience in both acting and directing, which one do you prefer?
I started out not as a professional child actor, but I’ve been hamming it up since I was 2 with my parents. I started acting in the theater at around 6 for 7 and I just always wanted to be in the movies whether it was acting or makeup effects. Then I saw the remake of THE BLOB and it was amazing to see because I was trying to do everything - I was writing short stories, I was acting, doing makeup effects - and when I saw THE BLOB, I saw the reaction because I saw it opening day. I saw all these people freaking out about it - screaming, laughing, yelling - and I thought whatever the guy is who does that, whatever job it is, I want that job! So I looked up what exactly it is a director does and it’s a little bit of everything. As a good filmmaker you need at least one that feels confident about their voice and their vision; you should try to know every facet of the production. You can’t do everything and it’s a very collaborative process so it’s good when the director kind of knows how to do everything. You don’t want to be a “jack of all trades, but a master of none” its good to have that knowledge in your pocket at all times so that if the writers or the actors or anyone has a question you get what they are talking about, whether its technique or how it can be done based on time and limitations.

If I had a preference I would definetely say director because I tend to put my hand into every facet of the production and on every production we do I always find myself throwing myself into everything. You’re going to see me with like a Hitchcock-like cameo with a mustache walking by. Acting is so much fun and you learn so much more about acting and working with other actors and learning about behind the camera.  Because Holiston was an intensive 6 week shoot and I was helping out with the script on the producing because Adam and I were executive producing and Adam was actually directing them.  We had Sean Decker of the Guild as our supervising director and he was our eyes behind the camera because once you’re acting, if you’re worried about where that camera should be, you’re not in that moment. That was hard for me and tough at first because I was used to having a small part or a cameo; this was something that I was directly involved with and passionate about, but I was also front and center of it with my best friend. It was an amazing learning experience but if I had to pick between the two, I would take directing only because in the process you can do everything and you’re telling a story and being a part of it.

I saw you at Comic-Con this year for KNIGHTS OF BADASSDOM - very excited about that flick! Any word on when it’s coming out?

Its always so exciting there! You’re gonna see TWILIGHT, THE AVENGERS, the usual suspects are either going to excite you more or they are going to disappoint you but its always good to find the hidden gems. I went for 10 years my favorite moment was the Iron Man trailer. Before it everyone thought “oh it may be good” but the second it finished, when Iron Man walked away form the exploding tank, that’s the reaction we were hoping for KNIGHTS. We were this tiny film that wasn’t talked about much, but the idea that we knew from the get-go that this was a comic con movie we knew we had to take it there.  We are nowhere near finished with the movie we are still editing, but we knew if we didn’t strike at comic con we’d miss out on a major opportunity to get the word out on it and I never would have expected in a million years the reaction to the movie to be what it was. It helped that we got a bunch of the cast out there and it wasn’t even designed! People were like, “you must have had a list of all the top geek actors in the world” and it wasn’t like that! I mean, I’m a geek/dork/whatever you want to call it, I knew the actors from their films and TV shows. I knew them from those and loved them, but I never was like, “Lets get Summer because she’s popular in this demographic.”
We cast people who were excited about it and got the gist of it. We weren’t making fun of larpers - it was more of an adventure! Everyone we cast just got it; once you start talking to an actor that you like and respect, its just another extension of acting and everyone got that and they were just excited to go out with big swords and beat up demons and beat on each other. It was amazing - all that excitement got built up in Hall H; it was amazing and one of the greatest days of my life.

Any word on a release date for KNIGHTS OF BADASSDOM?
We’re done filming, but are still in post. We’re slowly getting it all ready and finding the right time for a release date. You don’t want to pick a date then be like “oh shit, Hunger Games is coming out then” or “Crap, Avengers comes out” because whether you’re a $1 million film or a $100 million film, most people aren’t going to be like, “I’m glad I paid that $7 or $15 to see that big movie.” Most people don’t think about if it costs a million, they just want to be entertained. So just trying to find the right time to strike too, its one thing you don’t think about it during the process but so many films over the years have just come out at the wrong time and they get lost. Eventually they get discovered if they are good movies; they get discovered on DVD or blu-ray, tv, and some movies that weren’t very good were successful just because they were released at the right time. So for us it’s just getting the film finished, then finding the right time.

Last question, what other projects are you currently working on and excited about?
Obviously CHILLERAMA is done because its out now (thank god!) and we are in post on Holliston. That’s going great and we are premiering that on the Internet in April. Also in April, I’ll be knee deep in my new project which is call EVERLY which is a film that I wrote with my friend Neil Hannen. It is very far removed from anything I’ve ever done before; its definitely much more serious. It’s an action thriller and the best way to describe it is...well, 1.) its my Christmas movie which is very vague you’ll get it when you see it but 2.) its DIE HARD in a room. Without giving too much away, its one woman, 100 yocuza and 10,000 bullets and again if you’ve seen my previous work its not like anything I’ve ever done before. But if you look at all my favorite directors, they have all done things that are always challenging themselves.

I’m thinking I could make another horror movie and I love the horror genre, but its not like I only love the horror. Or I could make another comedy, but its not like I only love comedy. I love everything. One of my favorite movies of all time is DIE HARD so I want to make my own version of it in a way, but when it comes to action some of my influences are more along the lines of early Cohen Brothers, Michael Mann, and Early Jon Woo. Something that is much darker and much more intense, but you watch it and you can clearly tell that the filmmakers have a definite vision and story they are telling and that what EVERLY is. We are shooting that if I can get the cast I want, then hopefully we’ll be shooting that by spring and that would be my next film. It’s definetly a geek friendly film, but again its not like anything I’ve ever done before which is exciting for me and of course it also makes me nervous because its not something I’m used to. But being out of that comfort zone is such a powerful reason why we make movies. If you want to make the same movie over and over again go for it, but I didn’t get into movies to make the same movie over again. EVERLY for me is definitely the next step and I’m hoping that its the next big step for me.

Chillerama is out on Blu-ray now, and keep an eye out in 2012 for both KNIGHTS OF BADASSDOM and Holliston on Fear Net.
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